Every year spring sports at Malvern are draped with championship expectations, and the baseball, lacrosse and track programs never fail to disappoint. This season lacrosse and baseball look to repeat as Inter-Ac Champions and clinch the Heyward Cup for the Friars. Although, all of this athletic achievement in the Spring and throughout the rest of year could not be made possible without the contribution of one woman, Mrs. Denise Popper.
Mrs. Popper works in the O’Neill Center practically running the athletic program from behind the scenes. Tirelessly she coordinates the scheduling of officials, buses, and games to make sure that each athletic event runs smoothly. Without her our athletes wouldn’t be able to even step out onto the field. As one of the most integral parts of our athletic program, I had the chance to ask Mrs. Popper a few questions about her responsibilities, her favorite Malvern memories, and what she has planned for the future.
MH: How long have you been working at Malvern?
DP: I started working at Malvern in August 2001. I have been working here for 13 years.
MH: Which positions have you held and enjoyed the most while working here?
DP: I began working 2 hours a day in the Dean of Discipline’s office with Mr. Legner in August 2001. The following year, I continued to work for Mr. Legner in the mornings, and then went over to the athletic office in the afternoons when Mr. Frank Ryan was the AD. The next few years transitioned with Mr. Ruch becoming the Athletic Director and Mr. Dougherty becoming the Dean of Discipline and me working for the both of them, which I enjoyed very much. I became full time in athletics in 2007, and it’s been a great job. I’ve been able to get to know the students and essentially watch them grow up before my eyes. I’ve met and worked with some really great people who have become my good friends. I think that the day-to-day interaction with all of those people is what I’ve enjoyed the most, and I would imagine that it will be what I’ll miss the most as I look toward retiring.
MH: What are some of your responsibilities for your job working in the athletic office?
DP: I am responsible for scheduling games, arranging transportation, requesting officials, preparing awards for the various athletic assemblies, and assisting Mr. Ruch with the ever changing issues that arise in our department on a day to day basis.
MH: I know that two of your sons attended Malvern. As a faculty member and parent, what do you value the most about a Malvern education?
DP: Brian (’01) and Chris (’03) attended Malvern, and it was the perfect choice of school for the both of them. My husband and I came from catholic educations, and we knew that we wanted the same for our sons. The value of the Augustinian tradition was a major factor in our decision along with the caliber of academics which proved to be extremely beneficial when it came to Brian’s and Chris’ college choices. As a Malvern parent, the entire experience exceeded our expectations……it wasn’t just about the academics, the athletics, the spiritual environment or the MECO experience, but also about the unyielding support and concern that was available for me and my family during some difficult times, which, I know was not unique to us–there are many other people who can tell the same story.
MH: Do you have a favorite Malvern moment or memorable Malvern game which you attended?
DP: I have many favorite moments at Malvern, but at the top of my list are Graduation and attending mass at Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel. Graduation is a tradition that never seems to change, and the richness of that tradition is what makes Malvern so special. The chapel is a haven for all of us on campus. It allows us to stop in any time or attend mass when the men’s chorus sings to enrich our experience amid the beautiful mosaic of our Blessed Mother and the Christ Child–I’ll never get tired of looking at that.
MH: After this year, what do plan to do in all of your free time?
DP: I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life, and I look toward “giving back” in my free time. I’m not sure exactly how, but I trust that in time, it will unfold and the journey will be rich and rewarding. I expect to travel with my husband, spend more time with my sons, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter. I anticipate helping friends and family when the needs arise. I look forward to reading more, adding miles to my running, playing more tennis and digging in my gardens. I will be keeping my eyes and ears wide open in the hope that I won’t miss a single moment in this next chapter of life. I think that I will be pretty busy.