DAPHNE, Ala. – United States Sports Academy alumna Mary Beth Spirk has more than 30 years of basketball coaching experience and recently added another title to her resume as the athletics and recreation director at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa.
Spirk is the winningest women’s basketball coach in Moravian’s history with 579 wins, ranking among the top active Division III coaches. She was promoted to the role of Moravian’s director of athletics and recreation, becoming the school’s first ever female athletic director.
Spirk earned her Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 2002 while working as a coach at Moravian. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1981 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., where she studied political science and criminal justice and played basketball and softball.
“I had always intended to be a lawyer, so right out of college I worked in the criminal justice field and tried to save money for law school,” she said.
“I also became an assistant basketball and softball coach at Moravian College in 1981. After about six years, the head coaching position in both sports opened, I applied, and 31 years later, here I am. I never went to law school, but got my Academy master’s degree to learn to be a sports administrator.
“The convenience of the Academy was key,” Spirk said. “I was able to continue working while taking classes. Since my undergrad did not really focus on sports, managing in the sport profession or even sport coaching, the education at the Academy gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in my current profession. The Academy was a perfect fit for me.
“The Academy offers an opportunity for working professionals in the sport field or looking to get in the sport field a chance to get a degree in a seamless and affordable fashion.”
Spirk has served as the head coach for Moravian’s women’s basketball team since 1987. She has led the Greyhounds to 19 20-win seasons, 27 postseason appearances and nine NCAA Division III Tournament berths. She also served as the school’s head softball coach from 1988-93, amassing a record of 104-57.
She has also served Moravian as an associate professor of physical education, assistant athletics director, associate athletics director and Senior Women’s Administrator.
“My roles intertwine constantly,” Spirk said. “As a coach, I recruit every day to find quality student athletes in the off season and during the season. Once the season starts, my days are filled with film, practice and game preparation, meeting with players, scheduling and whatever may come up through the day in the life of a coach.
“Now as the athletic director I am on call 24/7,” she said. “I deal with all the coaches and athletes that compete here at Moravian. I am the conduit between the administration and the athletic department. Budgets, evaluations, supervision and counseling are just some of the jobs I do on a daily basis.”
Spirk has also been a crucial part of Moravian’s fundraising efforts, having been a major advocate for the school’s participation in the Kay Yow Cancer Fund’s Play 4Kay initiative, a nationwide effort to raise money and awareness for cancer prevention and treatment. The Greyhounds have been the top NCAA Division III school in the initiative for the last nine years, raising more than $115,000 over that time span.
In 2017, Spirk was named the Landmark Conference Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, her tenth conference Coach of the Year honor in her career. She was also the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division III National Coach of the Year in 1992.
Spirk has also known as an ambassador for women’s athletics, speaking to high school athletes in the Bethlehem, Pa., area and advocating for gender equity and Title IX at national conferences.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.