Going the extra mile: Columbia College’s Fotti wins CoSIDA Rising Star award

Cindy Fotti

Ever wonder what "going the extra mile" really means?

Cindy Fotti, assistant director of athletics and the department's media relations and compliance officer, knows. Softball coach Wendy Spratt, on whose team Fotti played for two years, required her team to run a mile in a prescribed time. Fotti ran it with time to spare; she'd run track and cross country (among other sports) as a high school student in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Not all of Fotti’s teammates were as fast. Fotti saw a teammate flagging so she jumped back on the track to complete the lap with her.

This cooperative ethic is a big reason why Fotti received the 2008 College Division Rising Star Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in Tampa, Fla. This marks the first time the award has been given to a sports information director at an NAIA institution.

"My dad was telling me all along just work hard," Fotti said. "Just work your butt off, and it’ll pay off in the long run, and really it has."

It hasn't been an easy journey, though. A volleyball tournament during senior year of high school left her with a burst blood vessel in her left eye. Even after surgery the prognosis wasn't good. "If you get hit in the face, you’re gonna go blind," Fotti recalls doctors saying. Fotti had to lie face down for 11 days; at night, she had to be strapped in so she couldn’t roll over. Sports were, of course, out.

But Fotti did recover and returned to athletics. The scars in her eye compromised her peripheral vision, however, and Fotti, a right-handed softball batter, had to teach herself to hit from the left. Fotti played three sports at Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., and then transferred to Columbia College to play softball. More trouble was to come: Her first season was cut short because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. She still garnered All-America Scholar Athlete, All-Conference, All-Region and National Tournament All-Tournament Team. Fotti later began working in the athletic department while earning first a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with a major in education and a minor in psychology, then a master's in teaching.

Bob Burchard, athletics director and men's basketball coach, said he was extremely proud of her. Added Burchard, "She can act as liaison between professors and [our] students and help direct those students ... That’s an incredibly important connection that needs to be made ... It can be a potentially tenuous relationship between academics and athletics, and I think [she's] helped that."

Article adapted from "Going the extra mile: CoSIDA honors Columbia's Fotti," by Ryan Nilsson, Columbia Tribune, June 7, 2008