Bethel Hires Natali

January 31, 2019

Tom Visker, Athletic Director at Bethel College for the last five years and professor and chairperson of Kinesiology and Dean of Arts and Humanities Division for parts of 11 years prior to that, has announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Assistant Athletic Director and men's and women's track and field head coach Tony Natali has been named as Visker's successor as Athletic Director. Natali will assume the role on July 1.

"Tony Natali is a gifted and proven leader," stated Holtgren. "He has shaped a dynamic and successful Track & Field program, and we are excited to see him expand his influence as he steps to this new role. Tony has a heart for Bethel, our mission, and our students, and he will lead the department well as we look to the future."

Natali has served as the head men's and women's track coach since he came to Bethel in the fall of 1999. He has coached the Pilots to 10 NCCAA team national championships and 7 NAIA individual national titles. He steps aside from a program that has produced 137 NAIA All-Americans and 728 NCCAA All-Americans thru 2017-18. The 19-time Coach/Coaching Staff of the Year recipient (across the NCCAA and the Crossroads League) was recently inducted into the NCCAA Hall of Fame in the 2018 class.

"I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to be the next Athletic Director at Bethel College," affirmed Natali. "Bethel has been a huge part of my family's lives and I can't wait to serve as best as I know how in this capacity.

"I am looking forward to seeing how God leads in the next phase of this institution's great heritage. I have been blessed to work under many great athletic directors in my time at Bethel such as Mike Lightfoot, Mark Lantz, Jody Martinez, and our current A.D., Tom Visker.  I have learned many great attributes under each one that I can now use moving forward.  They have laid a great foundation that can now be built on in the near future."

Natali will oversee the department's 29 intercollegiate athletic programs, including men's and women's swimming and diving, and men's and women's bowling which are set to begin their first years of competition in the fall, more than 60 staff members, and more than 350 student-athletes.

 "My vision is to have a Christ-centered department that puts our tremendous student-athlete population in a position to have the best possible experience they could have here at Bethel," continued Natali. "I would love to hear from our student-athletes and work with them to make their experience top-notch while always making Christ central in all we do.

"We are all called to excellence and I am looking forward to lead that way. We have a great community of faculty, staff, alums, administrators, and students that I am so looking forward to serving the best way possible. It will all be a process, but I know that as long as we stay focused on Christ and give Him all the glory, He will lead this department in years to come.  I am so very thankful to our administration for this opportunity to lead this department in the days ahead. I feel very blessed."

Among Natali's tasks at the helm of the department, will be helping forge the new identity for athletics as Bethel College will become Bethel University in May, as well as helping the men's and women's basketball teams navigate a new national landscape as the NAIA consolidates its basketball championships to one division from two in 2020, and continued work on the planned track and field training facility.

Natali was selected following input from multiple departments, leadership groups, and individuals from all walks of Bethel College. A search for his replacement for track and field head coach is underway.

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