LEXINGTON, Ky. (6/12/13) – Holly Sheilley may be taking on a big new role in Lexington’s college athletics world, but she feels right at home.
Sheilley recently accepted the athletic director position at Transylvania University, a milestone that developed from an already successful career in athletics spanning across Kentucky. Sheilley, a Louisville native, received her undergraduate degree from Asbury University, her master's degree from Eastern Kentucky University, and her doctorate from the University of Louisville. She began her career as a volleyball coach, softball coach, and educator at Lindsey Wilson College.
“Even when I was little, I mean five and six years old, I had a desire to be a coach,” said Sheilley. “That evolved when I went to college. The athletic director I had at Asbury was also my coach at the time and was very influential in my life. I really saw the opportunity to not only be able to coach, but to be in administration and help student athletes and coaches succeed.”
That desire led to her career at the University of Louisville, holding positions including assistant director for student development and championships.
“Any bids we put forward to host anything in the city of Louisville that had anything to do with the University of Louisville, I was involved in that,” she said. “I also did the student development program which included anything from the career center for student athletes, community service, just all those elements at the University of Louisville that we felt were important to surround our student athletes with in order for them to be successful in those programs.”
Her Louisville experience ultimately led to her becoming the NCAA assistant director of championships, where she dealt with NCAA membership, championship qualifications and venues, and media relations.
Now she's taking the athletics throne at Transylvania, the first female to ever fill those shoes. Sheilley says she is delighted to be the first female athletic director at Transy, but being the first woman in the position wasn't one of her goals.
“I think the female's place in athletics has definitely changed, obviously with the advent of Title IX from 1972 and just how it's progressed,” said Sheilley. “I think there's challenges in athletics no matter what gender or ethnicity you are. I don't really look at it like that. I trust and pray that the reason I was hired at Transy had nothing to do with my gender and everything to do with my abilities and experience.”
As a former student athlete at Asbury and coach at Lindsey Wilson, Sheilley recalled a time when she competed against Transylvania. She said that despite those rivalries, she always respected the institution.
“I even visited Transylvania as one of the schools that I considered on my short list myself as a student and as an athlete,” she said. “I've always had an appreciation and respect for, not only their academics, but their athletic programs.”
Although she will not begin the job until July 1, Sheilley already scheduled meetings with the coaching and athletic staff for her first two weeks.
“I want to be able to see where we are,” she said. “How do the goals and objectives that we want for the athletic department tie in to the university, the board of trustees, the president, the plan of 2020 for Transylvania? How does it all fit together? Athletics shouldn't be over there on a sideline by itself.”
Sheilley will replace Jack Ebel, who served in the position since 2006. She said she is very thankful to be able to continue working in athletics in an area she's happy to call home.
“I don't have enough words to say how very blessed I am for this opportunity to work in the state, as well as to work at Transylvania,” she said. “I'm expecting great things in the days ahead and I'm excited to get there and get started.”
Photo provided by Transylvania University
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