In a First, Raven Coach Wins Double Honor
In a first for any level of college football, one man earned recognition as both an Assistant Coach of the Year and Athletic Director of the Year. Previously, he was featured for his Catholic faith.
Benedictine College’s Charles Gartenmayer, who serves as the college’s Athletic Director as well as the Defensive Coordinator for the Raven Football team was named a Heart of America Athletic Conference Assistant Coach of the Year. He has also been honored as the American Football Coaches Association National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002, as well as the Heart Athletic Director of the Year in 2019.
“There are not many programs, even in small schools, where the athletic director also holds a key coaching position — and is at the top of both professions,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “Year after year, Charlie commits himself to excellence in everything he does, and it is heartening to see that he is being recognized for that.”
Gartenmayer, who was once featured on EWTN for his involvement with Varsity Catholic, has also been in the spotlight because of his Catholic commitment. When Benedictine’s national championship quarterback Shaffer Schuetz entered the Church, he credited Gartenmayer for inviting him to the weekly Wednesday 7 a.m. rosary with President Minnis.
“I saw a little bit of light in each of them,” Gartenmayer told The Leaven newspaper. “They had made some strong friendships with people who had a really strong walk with Christ. I think they were wondering, ‘Well what is all of this?’”
Gartenmayer gave them a handout on how to say the rosary. The Rosary became “something we would look forward to every week,” Schuetz said. “It was rosary and then breakfast and it was awesome.”
The National Catholic Register also recently featured Gartenmayer’s work focusing on faith and sports, quoting him saying, “Our goal is for our students to get their degree, have a strong walk with Christ, get along with others, and become leaders.”
In the 2018-2019 academic year when Gartenmayer was named the Heart Athletic Director of the Year, Benedictine’s Men’s Cross Country team, the Women’s Soccer team, the Women’s Lacrosse team, and the Football team all competed at the highest level, going to the NAIA national championship game or meet in all 4 sports. The Men’s Basketball team also went 24-0 in conference play and made it to the second round of the NAIA National Basketball Championship Tournament. That same year, the Raven Athletic Department became the first school to win the Heart Commissioner’s Cup, an annual award to a member school that symbolizes athletic excellence in conference-sponsored championships.
This fall, Gartenmayer helped lead the Raven Football squad to an overall record of 7-2 season while finishing 4-1 in the Heart South. Through the end of the fall season, Gartenmayer’s defense currently ranks second nationally in the NAIA for opponent fourth-down conversion (17.0 percent) and total sacks (34). They also rank third nationally in rushing defense per game (69.9) and fourth in scoring defense per game (12.0). Linebacker Brett Shepardson was named the Heart South Defensive Player of the Year and was also the South Co-Player of the Year. The Defensive Player of the Year honor marks the fifth such award to a player coached by Gartenmayer.
“How exciting for our players to be recognized for their on-field accomplishments, they are truly great young men,” Gartenmayer said. “I’m humbled to be recognized as Assistant Coach of the Year. Everyone on the staff knows that the majority of the work was completed by Kaleb (Koch), Andy (Merfield), Jon (Stammers), Brad (Hines), Mike (Nigus), and Bryan (Barraza). I am truly blessed and remain extremely excited about what I get to do each and every day. Most importantly, it is with whom I get to work with each day that ignites the Benedictine spirit in me. I love being a Raven.”
Under his leadership as Athletic Director, Raven Athletics has continued to grow and the facilities have flourished. He has added men’s wrestling, men’s lacrosse, and women’s lacrosse as intercollegiate sports. He has overseen the addition of the Asher Sports Complex — home of Benedictine Baseball and Softball — helped upgrade O’Malley Field to FieldTurf as well as add the John Casey Center to what is now known as Legacy Field. Additionally, under his leadership, Raven Athletics officially became an Under Armour school.