The University of South Carolina Sumter athletics department addressed two of its biggest needs in recent weeks - one on the field and one off.
USCS is adding two new sports for the fall, and the Fire Ants announced the hiring of Hope Giordano as the new head coach for the upcoming women's golf program.
A native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Giordano is a recent graduate of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
"It was just something I really could not turn down," Giordano said of the opportunity to coach at USC Sumter. "I truly do love the game and I love helping others, and I decided I really wanted to go into coaching. I saw the opening at USC Sumter and the fact that they were starting a program. I thought that was huge - giving women the opportunity to play."
That opportunity is something Giordano knows well. She originally went to Emmanuel College and made the Southern States Athletic Conference All-Conference Team in 2014 and was a National Christian College Association Golf National Championship Individual Qualifier.
Giordano played her last two seasons at Kutztown where she was a two-time MVP recipient, a two-time All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference First Team selection and a PSAC Golfer of the Week in 2014. Giordano left the KU golf team with a scoring average of 81.3 for the 2015-16 season - the second-best single-season mark in school history.
"She's got a great knowledge of the game as well as an enthusiastic attitude, which I think will be really helpful in recruiting," USC Sumter Athletic Director Age Cataldo said. "She's been on that side of things and she's also assisted with a couple programs.
"So with her work ethic and dedication, she was the perfect choice to bring into USC Sumter and start our golf program."
Though she came aboard already a few months into the recruiting season, Giordano hopes to sign a couple players this week and is looking forward to putting a team on the greens come this fall.
"I'm looking to them getting to experience something I did, only from the other side," she said. "So being able to build the program and see the looks on the girls' faces in tournaments is something that I'm really looking forward to."
Cataldo and the Fire Ants also recently announced that Christie Stutz has been hired as a Fundraising Coordinator, with her sole focus being on raising money for the athletic programs.
USCS has to raise all the money for its athletic teams itself, and Stutz's experience with the department made her a natural choice, Cataldo said.
"She has a background in raising funds and donor development," Cataldo said. "Our big priority with her was to bring her in and take the (fundraising) load off the coaches and put someone in charge who can really organize the athletic department in that way."
Stutz has been with USC Sumter for the past 10 years and served as a fundraising coordinator for the 2016 Fire Ant Color 5K run.
"My goal is to recruit enough corporate and private contributors and/or sponsors to allow the coaches of each athletic program to spend more time recruiting and focusing on the student athletes' needs in the classroom as well as on the field of play," Stutz said in a statement released by the school.
Aside from a trio of fundraising events this year, there are also two big projects on the horizon as funds are being raised for a new athletic bus and a new softball facility at the school.
"With an expanding athletic department, we need more transportation so that our teams can go safely to and from games and competitions," Cataldo said. "So we're excited about the growth and the future with other programs that we may bring in."
The new softball field will be beside the baseball practice field at the school and across the street from the soccer field, Cataldo added. Plans are for the new facility to be completed this fall or by next spring at the latest in time for the new season.