Looking ahead with new Lamar Director of Athletics Marco Born

Looking ahead with new Lamar Director of Athletics Marco Born

Marco Born was named Lamar University Director of Athletics by President Dr. Kenneth Evans on March 29 and wasted no time before being seen out in the community. For those who have never seen Born in person, he stands nearly 6-foot-10 and loves to talk and promote Lamar University.

A former student athlete, Born won a NCAA Doubles Championship in tennis with Andreas Siljestrom while at Middle Tennessee State in 2007. With a three-set victory over the Illinois doubles team of Ryan Rowe and Kevin Anderson, the two finished the season ranked fourth in the country, which was the highest final ranking of any doubles team in program history and earned a spot in the MTSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Anderson is currently ranked fifth in men’s singles by the ATP and lost in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic in July.

Born came to Beaumont after spending the previous four years at Louisiana Tech, but upon arriving at Lamar University, he was faced with issues involving the softball program, which is still ongoing.

Despite the adversity, Born continues to promote the positivity of Lamar University athletics by meeting with donors, fans and alumni, something that had been missing from the athletic director’s position.  

The Examiner sat down with Born who has been on the job four months as he prepares for the 2018-19 athletic season.

You were met with adversity after a few weeks regarding the Lamar softball program.

I never expected a decision had to be made like that after the first week or two after being here. It came on plate and I’m in charge, so decisions were made. It was good and bad that my family wasn’t here. It wasn’t good that they weren’t here because I missed them, but I did have time to focus on it. At the same time, we still need to be positive and promote Lamar University. There is a lot of positivity at Lamar University and I appreciate the media’s support in that. We have a really good softball coach in Amy Hooks. She has done a good job since she has been here and we didn’t lose many players. She has had an immediate impact on recruiting, which will pay off over the next few seasons and has reconnected with high school and travel ball coaches in this region.

How have your first four months on the job been?

It’s been good. I’ve met all the staff from the secretary to the head football coach. I’m learning about Lamar and what we need. I have a list of things to accomplish now, so that’s what the next 90 days will be.

What type of changes can fans expect?

You wills see a big difference in actual game days beginning with football. The team will have a walk when they arrive on the buses through the tailgating area, which is something we haven’t done in awhile. Fans will see a big difference on the video board and we want to keep them engaged. We will have skydivers, fireworks, some post-game fireworks as well as fireworks planned during halftime of future games. Not only football but the basketball teams are getting new locker rooms. A new turf is being installed for baseball in both infield and outfield, which should be done by January. Plus social media will be more active.

How has Southeast Texas treated you?

Southeast Texas has been very welcoming, but I think it’s important for me to understand this culture, embrace the area including the industry. I think many people are excited to hear from the athletic director. I was just in Orange and they just want to hear from you. They are willing to give you a chance. I’ve been speaking to a lot of people. I am happy to talk to anyone about Lamar University, about the success we have — four conference championships last year with 111 student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA and 40 with a perfect 4.0. Academically, our soccer program is in the Top 10 of all Division 1 soccer. There are a ton of things to be proud of and we need to tell that story.

What does Marco Born bring to the table?

Being a former student athlete helps. My job is to hire good coaches and raise money and support our student-athletes. Every daily decision made — how does that support our student athletes? My wife was also a student athlete and we had good experiences. The goal is champions in the classroom, champions on the field, champions in life. That’s why we need to sell more tickets. That’s why we need to sell more sponsorships and receive more donations. It 100 percent affects the student athlete plus building relationships with the student athlete is important. I like to surround myself with people that are better than me. Smarter and better will make Lamar University better. It makes me excited about being in this role.

How was your time being a student athlete?

It was a great way to finish my college tennis career. I didn’t pick up a racket six months after. I had a mind made up the semester before. I was dating my future wife at the time. I knew I would eventually propose and get married. I started lining up my master’s degree, then got a graduate assistant position in athletic marketing at Middle Tennessee. I was just burned out. I began playing tennis when I was 3. The travel, energy, I was completely burned out. I’ve since picked up golf, which is my passion now. It’s not pretty.

What are your realistic expectations this year?

I’m very excited about soccer and hopefully see them defend their conference championship. When you win the league, the expectations are to win it again. You will see improvement in football. I really like what coach Mike Schultz and his staff are doing in all aspects. The guys were here all summer getting bigger, faster and stronger. Three of the first four games are at home and that is really exciting especially for our fans. Volleyball is rebuilding, but coach Michell Kuester is doing it the right way. Cross-country will compete for another conference championship, the same with basketball. Baseball will be much improved. I expect us to compete for championships. We want to win the Southland Conference Commissioners Cup and we’ve never done that. The right pieces are in place so hopefully we start dominating the conference. This area is a hot bed for talent. We shouldn’t leave the five-hour radius of Beaumont to find student-athletes.