Mary Hegarty is a creature of habit. She can’t start her day without coffee, exercising, walking her dog, or checking her email. It’s all part of her routine.
But once her work day begins, there’s nothing routine about it.
The former UCLA basketball star’s schedule requires the endurance of an athlete. On a given day Hegarty might drop in on a women’s volleyball match then jog over to a soccer game, then race off to a coach’s meeting. On another day, she might be juggling budgets and filing requests to repair a shower, fix a field, or counsel a handful of student athletes.
“I want to help our athletes get to the next place, I want to help them transition into the next level and make sure our athletes have a positive outlook once they leave,” Hegarty said.
A Santa Ana native, Hegarty knows how much of an impact the Santa Ana community can have on a young person’s life. As a girl with a passion for sports, the city provided opportunities to play.
“In many ways, Santa Ana is responsible for the trajectory of my career because if I hadn’t had such a positive experience as a young girl in sports who knows if I would have continued the path I went on athletically, first as a basketball player, but then certainly coaching and everything else,” Hegarty said.
Before taking the role of athletic director Hegarty had a strong background coaching at the collegiate level at five different schools.
She was an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara, Humboldt State, her alma mater UCLA, Cal State Long Beach, and then became Head Coach of Women’s basketball at Chapman University where, during her 10-year stint, she turned the program around by posting nine consecutive winning seasons and an overall record of 160-92.
After many years of coaching, for Hegarty, making the transition from coaching to athletic director was an easy move. She says the biggest transition from coaching is being able to continue to impact young people.
“What I loved about being a coach was being able to help kids grow and provide guidance like I got when I was a young girl.” But when you’re an athletic director most of your encounters are with coaches and peers. “It’s a totally different dynamic,” said Hegarty.
“I’ve worn about almost every hat you can think of in an athletic department, but I want to leave a lasting legacy for student athletes and SAC for many years to come.”