ASU athletics adds staff with grants

Above, Palton Demps Below, Emma Wren

ALAMOSAThe Adams State University Athletics department has been awarded two grants to help fill hiring needs for the 2021-22 academic year.

The Sports Information Department was awarded the Phil Langan Graduate Internship, which was introduced in 1999 as a way to assist understaffed offices and provide opportunity for those wishing to break into the field. It is a one-year grant of $15,000.

With the grant, Paiton Demps returns to Alamosa as the Assistant Sports Information Director.

In addition, the Grizzlies received a Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). Grants were awarded to institutions to support collegiate female coaches on the rise, assisting with living expenses, professional development and mentorship. Adams State is one of 10 universities and colleges to receive the grants, which will be designated for female coaching fellows in a wide variety of women’s sports.

With the grant, Emma Wren will step in to be an Assistant Cross Country & Track and Field Coach.

Paiton Demps - Assistant Sports Information Director

Demps joins the ASU Sports Information staff as Assistant SID after completing a successful basketball career including the past two years for the Grizzlies. In addition, Demps served as the senior student sports information assistant for the 2020-21 school year.

During her tenure as a student assistant, Demps assisted with website maintenance, official statistics as a caller and stat inputter and video streaming.

“I am so excited to have Paiton back to help conquer the sports information duties,” said Sports Information Director Eric Flores. “She proved to be a quick learner and her attention to detail, handle stress and complete tasks under a tedious deadline, which are all valuable assests.”

In addition to handling several day-to-day operations in the SID office, Demps will be the main contact for several Grizzly sports including MSOC, WSOC, WBB, MSWIM, WSWIM, WLAX and MLAX.

Emma Wren - Assistant Cross Country/Track and Field Coach

Wren is entering her second year of coaching with the Adams State University Cross Country and Track & Field programs, primarily working with the distance and middle-distance runners, under the direction of Head Coach Damon Martin. Her first year was spent as a volunteer assistant coach where she helped with daily practice operations, home meet management, and travel to competitions. She is currently working on her master’s in Applied Sport Psychology. 

This past spring at Adams State, she used her remaining Outdoor Track & Field NCAA eligibility to compete for the Grizzlies focusing on the 1500m race distance. Not only did Emma improve her personal best in the event from 4:31 to 4:24 this season, but she also displayed stellar leadership. At the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championship this past May, Emma earned All-American honor for the first time with her 10th place finish.

Prior to Adams State, Emma competed in Cross Country and Track & Field for Kansas State University. At K-State, she earned three All-Big12 honors as a scoring member of two indoor track DMR teams and once in the Mile race. In 2018, she was a part of the winning 4x1600m relay team at the Drake Relays, the first time a K-State team had won the event. That same year, she was also a member of Kansas State’s Big12 Outdoor Track & Field championship team. She graduated in May of 2020 with an undergraduate degree in Architectural Engineering.

Wren is very passionate about coaching at the collegiate level and developing her knowledge and skills by learning from others to become a better coach. She is involved in the USTFCCCA Female Coaching Mentorship Program as a mentee where she learns from experienced female coaches and fellow mentees through individual and group discussions. Emma is also a member of the Women’s Running Coaches Collective (WRCC), another organization that connects female coaches of all levels. Through the WRCC, she attends various chapter meetings and has presented to fellow female coaches on her graduate studies in sport psychology, specifically educating coaches on mental strength training techniques they can apply to their athletes to help enhance performance. 

“We are honored to receive this fellowship, and excited for Emma as she furthers her career. Emma is an exceptional coach, who is eager to advance her career and is so deserving of this award,” said Adams State Athletic Director and SWA Katelyn Smith. “Thank you, WSF for believing in us and for providing young women all across the country with the opportunity to further their coaching careers.”

WSF began awarding grants from the VanDerveer Fund in 2019 to address the lack of women in coaching positions at all levels of sport. Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, the percentage of women in head coaching roles for NCAA women’s sports has steadily declined from 90% in 1970-71 to 41% in 2020. Only 28% of all NCAA assistant coaches in 2020 were women and, only 6% of all NCAA assistant coaches were BIPOC women. Aspiring women coaches are able to jumpstart their careers and contribute to growing representation of women in the coaching space through the opportunities they receive from the Tara VanDerveer Fund. Hired by educational institutions that receive the grant, fellows receive mentorship from established collegiate coaches, hands-on-training and professional development resources. Since its inception, the Fund has provided a total of $600,000 to 26 colleges and universities across the country, supporting 27 coaching fellows across 11 different sports.

“Having greater representation of women in leadership positions, especially coaching, plays such a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “WSF is proud to continue honoring Tara VanDerveer’s history-making legacy with this important Fund that helps encourage and support women pursuing a coaching career.”

To learn more about the VanDerveer Fund and meet the 2021 grant recipients, please visit: