Justine Gaskamp, Sports Information Director
GOODWELL — Panhandle State Head Softball Coach Meghan Mulcahy is set to take over as the Director of Aggie Athletics following the retirement of Dr. Wayne Stewart at the end of June; Stewart led the department for eight years.
Mulcahy, who enters her sixth season as the Aggies’ head coach (2018), came to Goodwell in 2012 from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery, where she was assistant coach for the 2011 season. She served as assistant coach for the Aggies under Rachel Burleson and was responsible for the pitching and catching staff, along with hitting.
Instrumental in making an immediate impact on the team, the Aggies improved from a 3-47 season in 2011 to a 19-30 record in 2012. Mulcahy’s success continued as the Aggies posted their best season since 2004 under her direction when the team went 20-31 in 2016. During her time at the helm of Panhandle State softball, Mulcahy has put players on the All-Heartland Conference roster every year and her team has had strong representation on both the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls.
In addition to coaching, the Peachtree City, Ga. native previously served as the Senior Women’s Administrator and Game Day Administrator for Aggie Athletics. A graduate of Nicholls State University, she earned her BA in Psychology in 2007 and went on to obtain a MS in Kinesiology in 2009 from the University of North Texas. Mulcahy has been an adjunct instructor at Panhandle State since her arrival in 2011 and has implemented the Aggie Cup, a program that recognizes the academic achievements, community outreach and campus involvement of student athletes. This program was modeled after the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program, which Mulcahy oversaw as the Assistant Coordinator and Compliance Intern at Southern Methodist University in 2010.
As she enters into the next chapter of her career at Panhandle State, the creativity and commitment to excellence Mulcahy brings will help build on the pride of past, present and future generations of Aggie athletes. Her plans for the department includes six critical components, which she feels will “position student athletes to realize their academic potential as well as their athletic potential.” A Strategic Plan outlines the implementation of these goals over a five-year period to include Student Success, Governance and Structure, Facilities, Finances, Marketing and Reputation, and Successful Competition.
In short, Mulcahy says her vision is to, “Do everything we can to help create an environment for student-athletes where they can be competitive on their team and conference as well as in academics and other areas. I want help them to have a positive experience being a part of OPSU and the Aggie Athletics program.” University President Dr. Tim Faltyn focuses on the same goals and feels that Mulcahy is a phenomenal leader and tremendous asset to Panhandle State saying, “Coach Mulcahy is going to be an excellent Athletic Director. Her experience, mind, and passion for helping student athletes will help take our athletic program to an even higher level.”
Other recent staff changes within the department brought new leadership within the sports of volleyball and women’s basketball. Assistant Coach Matt Heffner will take over as the head of Aggie volleyball, and Assistant Coach Victor Esparza now leads the women’s basketball team. Faltyn foresees great things ahead stating, “Both coaches bring experience and fresh enthusiasm to excellent recruiting classes. There is no doubt in my mind that these two coaches have the potential to contribute all the positive growth and excellence on campus.”
Heffner finished his first year at Panhandle State as assistant to Head Coach Mike Stephens, who had served at the helm since 2009.During his short time at Panhandle State Heffner has found that, “Everyone works hard to help each other out. We are supportive of each other’s successes and that creates a really nice atmosphere for everyone on campus.”
Originally from Wyomissing, Pa., Heffner came to Panhandle State from Jacksonville, Fla. where he helped lead Bishop Kenny High School to a State Championship in 2015 as an assistant coach. Prior to that, he coached St. Augustine High School to a state runner up title in 2013, where he held both head coach and assistant coach positions. Heffner’s collegiate coaching experience includes an assistant coach job at St. John’s River State College in Palatka, Fla. and he has worked numerous college camps including Georgia Tech, University of North Florida and Emory University in Georgia.
With a degree in History from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., Heffner also serves on the academic side at Panhandle State. This spring he taught the Theory and Coaching Volleyball class for the Health and Physical Education Department.
As head coach, Heffner looks to continue to “Build up the program with our amazing student athletes.” He will continue recruiting student athletes who are good in the classroom, on the court and in the community; and hopes to build the teams presence in the community and grow the Aggie volleyball family and the athletics family in general. “I want to increase our volleyball IQ and presence on the court this preseason and dive right in to our new NAIA conference and opponents this fall with full confidence in the great athletes that we have here at Panhandle State University.”
Women’s basketball welcomes a familiar face in Coach Victor Esparza. A 2008 graduate of OPSU, Esparza first entered the coaching realm as a student assistant for the Aggies in 2006. He became a full-time assistant coach for men’s basketball in 2007, serving seven years under the Aggies’ current head coach Jerry Olson. In 2008, Esparza added the sport of cross country to his charge, named head coach of the men’s’ and women’s cross country teams. Under his leadership, the Aggies earned Heartland Conference honors in 2011, when men’s runner Gedion Busienei held the title of Conference Champion.
In 2013, Esparza moved on to serve as Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Missouri Southern State for one year. From there, he gained his first head coaching job at Raton High School, where he also served as Athletic Director through the spring of 2016. This past fall Esparza had the opportunity to return to Panhandle State, taking the assistant women’s basketball coach position under Head Coach Charles Terry. Terry completed his fifth season as the women’s head coach and had previously led the men’s team from 2000-2003.
Esparza hails from Cimarron, N.M. and earned a Master’s degree in Secondary Education (Sports Administration) from East Central University in 2013. “It has always been a dream of mine to be a college head coach. I am extremely honored and excited for the opportunity to be the next head coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University; the opportunity to get do that at my alma mater is a true blessing.” His main goal for the program is to “build a team of character that will be hard-working both on and off the court. We want to have a great mental toughness with a positive attitude and selflessness.” He adds, “I look forward to connecting our players and myself with the fans and the community, and to share our vision of what is yet to come for the Panhandle State Women’s Basketball program.”
With fresh leadership and new goals department-wide, it is sure to be an exciting year as the Aggies enter into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in all sports for the 2017-2018 seasons.