Former Georgia Tech associate athletic director Theresa Wenzel has a new job – president of the Atlanta Dream.
Wenzel, who left Tech in December after 10 years at the school, the last nine of which she served as the senior woman administrator. She oversaw women’s basketball, golf, softball, volleyball and the men’s and women’s teams for swimming and diving, track and field and tennis.
“I think things happen for a reason,” Wenzel said Wednesday. “I’m on the receiving end of a pretty good opportunity.”
Wenzel replaces Angela Taylor, who was dismissed after a two-year term as the Dream’s president and general manager. The move was made after the Dream finished the 2015 WNBA season with a 15-19 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since their inaugural season in 2008.
Wenzel left Tech without plans beyond taking a month off to figure out her next steps. But, she said, the conversation with the Dream and owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler began the day she left the job. Wenzel was aided by recommendations from Tech coach MaChelle Joseph and Danielle Donehew, the executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and a Yellow Jackets great. Brock is married to John Brock, a Tech grad and prominent donor to the school. The Brocks recently completed leadership of a fundraising campaign that raised more than $1.8 billion for the school.
“It’s been neat to see how it’s kind of materialized and it’s certainly been fortunate with Mary and Kelly being committed to the team,” Wenzel said. “They want to see it being very successful for Atlanta.”
Outside of a short stint coaching at the high school level, this will be Wenzel’s first foray into professional athletics after a career spent in college coaching and administration. But she sees some of the challenges as similar, particularly developing corporate partnerships and filling the arena. The WNBA reportedly recorded the lowest attendance figures in the league’s 19-year history this past season. The Dream averaged 6,122, ninth in the 12-team league but a 4.4 percent increase.
“I think for any team, (the challenge) is getting people to the game and appreciating and understanding the value of the product and how well the game is played by the team,” she said. “In the summertime, it’s challenging, because a lot of people are on vacation, but I don’t see the challenge any differently than what you see in college athletics – getting people to value the product and wanting to support the product.”