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Gera Leaves Behind an Impressive Legacy as Montclair State Director of Athletics

Recently, Holly Gera announced she would be retiring as Montclair State Director of Athletics on Jan. 1, 2019. In 1989, Gera returned to her alma mater, quickly rising up the ladder from Director of Campus Recreation to Assistant Director of Athletics, culminating in being named the first female Director of Athletics in the program’s history in 1996.

“I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and always tried to look at my job as more expansive and prescribed duties were as Director of Campus Recreation,” said Gera. “Exciting things were happening in the athletic department and since I reported to the Director of Athletics I was able to get involved in things and if I had not reached out to broaden my experience I don’t know if the opportunity would have to become Associate Athletic Director.”

“I always tell young people I talk with if you are interested in the field, put yourself out there, volunteer for things and offer to do more than what is expected and if you do good things will come out of it.”

“After 30 years, my most important takeaway is all the people I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with from students to staff members to colleagues around campus and alumni. I have had the opportunity to see students complete their four years and go on to get jobs and come back as alumnus. A very rewarding profession from the standpoint of working with motivated people and staff every day for 30 years.”

The Red Hawks athletic program has dominated under Gera, winning 50 conference championships, producing 15 NCAA individual champions, 200 All-Americans, 18 sports appearing in NCAA Tournaments (including 11 advancing to national finals), and 21 student-athletes selected as Academic-Americans.

“A busy department with around 550 student-athletes with traditional and non-seasons overlapping,” Gera said. “Teams’ that are successful and playing in postseason whether conference or NCAA Tournaments make for a lively and an exciting time but large commitment from working here in the department. The staff works long hours and hard to keep it successful. Whenever you have 550 students always things can happen and you and your coaches and athletes representing the institution in a positive way.

“Very gratifying and credit our student-athletes, coaches and support staff because it does take a lot of people to put together a successful program and we like to look at our sports just not as teams’ but as programs. A program has an athletic component, academic component and community/sportsmanship component and way we look at a successful program. We love traveling, the experience of our athletes being a member of a team whether they are a starter or bench player and I would like them to feel when they left here had a quality athletic experience and will remember throughout through out their lives”

“The NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) is a great conference because it’s geographically close and makes the competition a little bit easier and less need for missed class time, trips and long travel. We’re all public institutions in our state, Division III is the right model for care and concern for the student-athlete and gives students an opportunity to compete in sports they love and be involved in other campus wide activities”

“Holly Gera is the only AD I have ever know, she is amazing and one of the best in the business and so appreciate of what she has done for me and helped me in my career and going to miss her but she deserves this retirement,” said Montclair State Women’s Basketball head coach Karin Harvey on Gera’s accomplishments.”She has put in 30 years at Montclair State, it’s going to be tough and feel so fortunate to have worked under her for almost my whole coaching career.”

“I’m taking from this job the people and coaches I have worked with including Coach Harvey over the years and their hard work, tenacity and motivation that makes these programs successful,” said Gera in response to Harvey’s comments. “She has been a great example of that and enjoyed working with her and respect her as a coach and person.”

Not only has Montclair State Athletics achieved on the field but witnessed the construction of new facilities on campus with MSU Soccer Park and MSU Softball Stadium, plus renovations with Sprague Field and Panzer Athletic Center. The university hosted the NCAA Softball Championship in 2009 and the Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship in 2012.

“One of the most exciting things in athletics is a participant in the NCAA Championships,” said Gera. “We have hosted many first and second round sectional competitions in a variety of sports. In 2009, hosted a successful event of eight teams, three games in five days, banquet and community service and all practices were a big undertaking but it was an amazing experience and always will remember and treasure.”

Outside of her position as Director of Athletics, Gera has served on numerous committees in Division III, NCAA and NJAC. Furthermore, she was honored by several organizations, including the Division III Southeast General Sports TURF AD of the Year award by the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics in June 2006.

“Part of being a great professional is being involved with your professional organizations whether it be at the conference or national level,” Gera said. “I was fortunate to be part of the NCAA committee in policy decision-making and suggestions for policy. You get to see how an organization works behind the scenes and how things are set up and valuable thing to bring back to your campus.

“Very exciting to receive that award in the first convention held in New Orleans after Katrina. An interesting time to be back there from the standpoint of the city trying to come back, even though not sure what they were going to find and bring business back to the city. When you respect your peers and they choose to honor you is very special.”

So what does the future hold for Gera?

“I’m not quite sure, definitely planning to look for something part-time and branch out to something different than athletics,” said Gera. “Very interested in museums and libraries, I might even be interested in Whole Foods.

“Montclair State has a bright future ahead, a great program here and now has a staff in place. I have very confidence the institution will continue to support the athletic program and try to provide the resources needed to keep playing at a high level.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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