A Maryville Role Model Returns to Lead Saints Athletics

by Laura Derickson, ’93
Lonnie Folks, ’82, ’98, is Maryville University’s new director of athletics and recreation. As an ardent supporter and a former Saints student-athlete and coach, Folks is a familiar figure on campus.

 

“Maryville has remained important to me, and I feel fortunate to be coming home to rejoin the campus community,” he says.

After graduating in 1982 with a BS in business management from the John E. Simon School of Business, Folks served Maryville and the Saints athletic community with distinction for nearly two decades.

“Lonnie Folks represents the best that Maryville alumni and employees have to offer – passion for education, professional integrity, a drive for excellence and winning and a devotion to their alma mater,” says Maryville President Mark Lombardi, PhD.

In 2009, Folks was inducted into the Maryville University Athletics Hall of Fame. That same year, Maryville created the Lonnie Folks Award to honor former student-athletes, coaches or administrators who exemplify good spirit, sportsmanship, stewardship and service.

Quitting was not an option

The most important lesson Folks learned as a Maryville athlete was not to quit. His freshman year, he started every soccer game in goal and was named Freshman Player of the Year for soccer. His sophomore and junior years, he moved to backup goalie and then to third string because newly recruited players were extremely accomplished goalies.

“Quitting never crossed my mind because while I was competitive and wanted to play, being part of a team meant something to me,” says Folks. “I still felt important to the team if only as a practice player or driver of the vans.”

Midway through his senior year he got a spot start and played well enough to become the regular goalie again. But staying on the team helped him achieve in other ways, too. “Had I quit, I probably wouldn’t have ventured into coaching, which has defined every professional accomplishment that I’ve had. Quitting was not an option, and that has defined my life.”

A Long Career of Success

Following graduation, Folks worked in Maryville’s athletic department for nearly 20 years. He rose through the ranks to become assistant director of athletics and head coach for women’s soccer and softball, securing four conference titles and two conference tournament titles. He also served as the head women’s basketball coach and sports information director. He was a two-time SLIAC Coach of the Year in both women’s soccer and softball.

Folks continued his successful career at Stockton University in New Jersey, where he worked for nearly 20 years as director of athletic operations, director of athletics and recreation and director for student affairs operations.

Even during his time away, Folks remained an active alumnus, serving on the Athletics Hall of Fame Committee, joining the Duchesne Society, emceeing alumni trivia night, regularly attending Alumni Weekend activities and acting as an ambassador to encourage the involvement of fellow alumni.

“I’ve stayed involved because I had the opportunity to get an excellent education at Maryville and wanted to give back,” says Folks. “If I’m any good at all today, it’s because of the opportunities that I had a at Maryville as a student and an employee.”

As he returns to Maryville, Folks looks forward to meeting student-athletes and getting to know them beyond their uniforms.

“I want to know what motivates them and discover what I can do to encourage them to do their best,” says Folks. “I also want to get to know our staff and take my appropriate role on our professional team as we seek to have Maryville be a program of significance, not only within the Great Lakes Valley Conference, but nationally.”

Having the perspective of a former student-athlete and employee makes Folks uniquely qualified to be Maryville’s new athletic director.

“Any decisions I make in my new position simply adds support to this precious cargo,” says Folks.

Posted on

Categorized In: