Longtime University of Mary Washington Athletic Director Ed Hegmann announced last Saturday that he will be retiring following the conclusion of the spring semester. The decision was one that Hegmann had been considering for some time, but he really gave it greater deliberation over this past winter break before coming to the conclusion that it was time to end his 36-year run as the school’s athletic director.
The 69-year-old Hegmann cited joint pain that has plagued him in recent years, particularly arthritis in his feet that has given him some mobility problems, as one of the main reasons for determining it was time to step aside.
“Even a couple years ago I was getting tired, and I never thought I’d get tired, yet I really had to wait until we finished the Anderson Center,” Hegmann said. “Until that was done, I just wouldn’t have felt good about walking away.”
After being hired to a slew of positions in 1976 (athletic director, men’s basketball head coach, women’s tennis head coach, chair of the physical education department and intramural sports director), Hegmann helped evolve UMW athletics from a six-sport school to a 23-sport program with elite facilities.
“What I’m most proud of is the facility expansion and the expansion of the program to 23 sports, which is kind of unprecedented,” Hegmann said. “Coaching wise, winning three [women’s tennis] national championships is just incredible.”
From the Battleground Complex, to the Indoor Tennis Center, to the most recent William M. Anderson Center, Hegmann’s vision and pursuit to give the university’s athletes the best places possible to compete was paramount to each of those upgrades getting completed.
Hegmann was also pleased with the way the athletic programs he oversaw were constructed, with no one team superior to the rest.
“I’m really proud that we were able to build quality [sports programs] in a very balanced way,” Hegmann said. “Women’s sports, men’s sports, big team sports, small team sports, everyone gets the same treatment. At most schools some sports become the flagship sports and everyone else just kind of comes along for the ride. We’ve never done that here. I never wanted to have any athlete feeling like a second-class citizen.”
Yet his administrative accomplishments pale in comparison to Hegmann’s true love of coaching. His 1999 retirement from women’s tennis sounds as though it has helped prepare him for the end of his reign as university athletic director. Though he admitted that he will miss being a part of his administrative team with the opportunity to make their collective vision a reality, it won’t be the same as the loss of the bond Hegmann had with the numerous athletes he came in contact with during his 23 years as the women’s tennis coach.
“I was lucky to be able to come here every single day when I was coaching,” Hegmann said. “I couldn’t wait to get here. And now just being an administrator is not near as fulfilling as being a coach. So I’ll miss some of [the administrative things], but I’ll still miss the coaching more.”
Hegmann said he mainly hopes to be remembered as someone who simply really wanted Mary Washington to be the best it could possibly be in terms of athletics.
Now Mary Washington has a void at the athletic director spot for the first time in more than three and a half decades, leaving big shoes to fill for whoever is charged with the task of replacing Hegmann.
Though Hegmann does not have a successor and he’s unsure how much he’ll be involved in the selection process of the next athletic director, he says that he has been contacted about meeting with the vice president of student affairs and the dean of faculty to give input on the “fashioning of the job description.”