Spotlight On: Andy Wenstrand, Illinois Women’s Volleyball

Andy Wenstrand
Director of Operations
University of Illinois Women’s Volleyball
Hometown: Bellvue, Nebraska
Education: Florida Tech (Ocean Engineering) ’05
Official bio
Twitter: @CoachWenstrand

What do the first two hours of your day look like?

That really depends on the day of the week and what part of the year. One thing that I do every day is making lists. I review my to-do list from the previous day(s) to see what old business carries over to the new day, and what follow ups I need to plan. Then I check my various calendars and tasks to prioritize my day.

Monday mornings are generally my “paperwork” mornings, approving time cards, filling out NCAA reports (like CARA and Time Management Plans), scheduling our cameras to record practices for the week, reconciling receipts from the previous week and so on. The rest of the week, mornings are a great time to accomplish tasks and meet with the team around the team (events, marketing, video, et al) prior to the coaching staff coming in to the offices. With our practices in the afternoons, a lot of the behind the scenes setup happens in the mornings.

Name one go-to resource that helps you with your duties.

When I decided to venture into the Ops world, I leaned heavily on colleagues and friends that have blazed the trail before me. Though I still bounce ideas and get input from them, it was clear early on that a key to success in the operations field is to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible. As a program, we rely on TeamWorks to carry a lions-share of our communication and organization. The technology and apps continue to evolve, and every athlete tends to have their own style of communicating. I try to find what works best with each individual to serve the team as best I can.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some items I have on me at all times. Aside from my Apple Watch and iPhone (absolute necessities), I am always in possession of a pen, a notebook (Field Notes at the very least), a sharpie, and a spare SD card. One can never be too careful!

If you could go back to your first day on the job and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

In my first year as an Operations Director, I wish I would have made more calls to confirm details. I had been left scrambling a few times for various reasons that could have been avoided with a call, just to check and confirm.

Name one new thing you want to accomplish this year?

I would like to help bring an Academic All-American selection to our program. I’m not sure how I fit into that equation, but we have the athletes and support staff to foster a great tradition recognizing more than just the results between the lines.

As you look at the athletic operations field, what is one area that is growing/changing the most?

Operations has grown from simply taking care of the nuts-and-bolts of running a program to being able to tell the story of the program, as well. Social media has given every athlete, coach, fan and prospect a unique voice. I believe in leveraging each person’s individual brand as a way to share those unique perspectives while telling the story of our program as a whole.

Many organizations spend quite a bit of resources creating compelling content to share, but where I feel the biggest room for growth comes is creating a strategic content calendar to continue telling the story of your program. You don’t have to be a graphics or video wizard to be able to tell your story – in fact, the student-athletes are pretty good at doing that themselves.

Best career or work advice you ever received.

Working my first game, a supervisor told me “If you know the score at the end of the game, you probably haven’t done your job as well as you could have.” It’s a bit hyperbolic, but it still resonates. I don’t call the plays, and as much as I’d like, I don’t compete in the matches. By focusing on how I can best serve the student-athletes on any given day, I hope to put my team in a position to succeed on and off the court.

First event, person, or job that sparked your interest in this field of work.

I had a rather untraditional path to my current position. My first experience working sporting events came as a mascot while still in high school. I found that I could act-the-fool enough to make a career out of it. I vowed to keep pursuing this line of work until it stopped being fun and/or couldn’t pay the bills. Though I’ve evolved quite a bit from my early days in sports, I have found my niche in the collegiate sports world, serving student-athletes.

Talk about a project or effort you’re working on or a group or organization that you’re working with (either inside or outside of your operations function) that is near and dear to your heart.

Prior to arriving at Illinois, I served as the Creative Director for another university’s athletics department. I’ve been extremely fortunately enough to be able to continue some of my passions from that role. If I’m not locking down the next team meal or travel plans, you will often find me behind various cameras, creating content to engage in telling the story of the Fighting Illini.

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