Moriah Van Norman has spent most of her teaching career helping students transition and learn English as a second language. But her first language has always been sports.
Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon-Peters announced Van Norman as the new athletic director in July. She took over the position Bob Lofrano had before retiring in June. She is also the first female athletic director since 1990.
An Olympic silver medalist, two-time world champion and a four-time All-American are some of the awards that Van Norman has collected throughout her career.
Van Norman began playing water polo at USC where she was coached by legendary coach Jovan Vavic. She won the Peter J. Cutino award and a national championship in 2004.
Van Norman is grateful for the opportunity and said that athletics have always been a part of her life.
“I feel excited about this opportunity,” Van Norman said. “I’m a full-time faculty member here, so this is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between athletics and academics.”
Van Norman founded the water polo program at Pierce in 2012, and she was the head coach for that year. Her team won conference that first year.
She said that it all started when Lofrano, Fred Shaw and the swim coaches at that time recognized the need for a program on campus.
Van Norman played for the U.S. women’s water polo team winning silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
“Being an Olympic athlete is a great honor to represent your country. To play at the highest level is something dear to my heart,” Van Norman said. “The unique thing is not about the wins and losses, it’s about the friends you make over the years.”a
Van Norman wants to bring her life skills and experiences to her new position, because she wants to help student athletes be successful.
Playing on the national team, Van Norman also won the gold medal in 2007 and 2009, and silver in 2005 at the World Championships.
After her Olympic participation in Beijing, she went on to play in Europe. She played in Vouliagmeni, Greece, where her team won the European Championship in 2009.
“It’s amazing living in a different country and experiencing a different culture,” Van Norman said. “Water polo is bigger in Europe, and so it was nice playing on a bigger stage. I played with all the Greek Olympians, and so I got to learn a little Greek while I was there. Living in a different country, I would recommend it to all students, when they are of age, of course.”
Van Norman adapted quickly to life in Greece and said that language wasn’t a barrier because all of her teammates spoke English.
Dixon-Peters said that hiring for the position was tough because they had to look for the person that was right for the job.
“The process is challenging, because you’re wondering who’s going to apply for the position,” Dixon-Peters said. “We had amazing candidates, but we decided to go with Moriah.”
Dixon-Peters said that there always has to be a plan B in case a chosen candidate decides to step down.
“When a candidate decides not to take the position, we always have a backup plan just in case,” Dixon-Peters said. “There is always a well-qualified person there, and Moriah is an amazing candidate and she will do fine.”
Dixon-Peters expects Van Norman to do great and believes she will bring all her knowledge to the position.
“She will bring her expertise as an Olympian, as a Division I student athlete and a master’s degree holder,” Dixon-Peters said. “She will be a great role model for our student athletes. She is student-centered and focused, and she will be great.”
Swim and water polo head coach Judi Terhar has complete confidence that Van Norman will be great in her new role. She said that she has a sharp mind and tremendous work ethic.
“I have complete confidence in Moriah as our new athletic director. Her priority is our Pierce College students, and she cares so much about our athletes as well,” Terhar said.
Terhar said Van Norman will have a direct impact on all the coaches and the athletes.
“I think you will find someone who is seeking to serve students and find coaches with the same selfless attitudes,” Terhar said. “She is in a unique position to have an impact on everyone, especially those in athletics.”
Van Norman wants to be remembered as a person that has helped people and gotten them to where they want to go in life.
“This title for me isn’t going to be my legacy. My legacy will be the people I helped along the way. This position for me is a great opportunity to help more people,” Van Norman said. “I want to take students where they are and take them to where they want to go.”