Hollins Adds Track and Field to Athletic Programs

Track and field will become Hollins University’s ninth intercollegiate athletic program.

The team is expected to start competition as early as the 2019-20 indoor track and field season and will continue into the spring 2020 outdoor season.

“We are excited to add track to our slate of intercollegiate teams at Hollins,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “We plan to focus on distance events at first, so we expect that it will enhance our ability to recruit for the cross country program as well.”

Robert Sullivan Jr., who was promoted to head coach of Hollins’ cross country team in August, has been tapped to lead the new track and field program. He is also currently the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville, Virginia, and is a Level One Certified Coach for USA Track and Field.

“We are fortunate to have Coach Sullivan here to help us get the program started,” Sims noted.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to be the first track coach at Hollins,” said Sullivan. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be here during this time of growth, both athletically and academically. With this addition, I hope cross country will grow as well. It will definitely help us recruit high-quality runners because a lot of them like to run all three seasons. I look forward to having both programs build off one another.”

Track and field was chosen due to its increased participation rates across Virginia and the country. The proposal put together by Sims, using data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, shows track and field as the most popular high school sport for female participation for nine straight years.

This is the first athletic program Hollins has added since the university reinstated the cross country team in 2016.


Hollins Names New Sports Information Director

Hollins University has announced that Justin McIlwee is the school’s new sports information director. He previously served as the assistant director of athletic communication at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.

“I am thrilled for Justin to join our team because of his experience and his enthusiasm for the field of sports information,” said Hollins Athletic Director Myra Sims. “He has a strong skill set that will serve Hollins athletics very well. After working in a different field for a few years, he found his calling in athletic communications and has pursued this career with great intention. I have no doubt that Justin will earn the respect and admiration of our coaches and student-athletes, and will be a strong colleague across the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.”

“I am excited to be a part of the Hollins family,” McIlwee said. “I want to thank Myra Sims for giving me the chance to come in and lead the Hollins sports information office. After meeting with her, seeing what she has done for the athletic department, and learning about her vision for the future, it was clear that Hollins was where I wanted to be. I also want to thank Richie Waggoner (whom McIlwee succeeds as SID) for laying down the foundation of the university’s sports information office over the past 13 years.”

During his time at Millsaps, McIlwee worked with all of the college’s 16 sports and was the primary contact for the Majors’ volleyball, men’s soccer, cross-country, women’s basketball, softball, and track and field teams. He got his start in collegiate sports information as the statistician for James Madison University’s women’s volleyball team during their 2017 Colonial Athletic Association championship season. He also worked for various newspapers in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley as a sports editor and general news and features writer. In 2015, while working on his Master’s degree in sports journalism at Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis, McIlwee was the media relations intern for the Indianapolis Indians, the AAA minor league baseball affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

 


Hollins Names Skinner Head Swim Coach

After a nationwide search, Hollins has announced Ned Skinner will become the university’s head swim coach and director of the Northen Swim Center beginning August 1. He succeeds Patrick Richardson, who led the swim program for the past four years.

“I am absolutely thrilled that our current and future Hollins swimmers will enjoy the expertise of an experienced and successful coach like Ned Skinner,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “When you look at his background, it is clear that Ned is extremely knowledgeable in the technical aspects of the sport. Yet, he is also invested in mentoring student-athletes outside of the pool, and in treating each swimmer as an individual. Aside from his collegiate coaching experience, Ned has an extensive history with camps, clinics, and private lessons. He is very well-connected with youth swimmers and coaches in the region and will be able to broaden the reach we have in recruiting for the swim program. I am confident we are getting a coach who can take Hollins swimming to the next level.”

Skinner comes to Hollins after a distinguished, 20-year coaching career at Virginia Tech. Starting in 1998, Skinner led the Hokies to four conference championships while seeing more than 100 student-athletes turn in All-American performances. In addition to the All-Americans, Skinner coached 50 individual conference champions, a trio of Olympians, and a member of the USA National Team. During an eight-year stretch from 2008-2016, Skinner coached five different USA Olympic Trial swimmers who reached the semi-final and final rounds. In 2016-17, Skinner also served as a coach on the United States Swimming National Team staff. In addition to collegiate and national team coaching, Skinner presented at multiple swim camps and clinics as well as various national conventions and conferences, and founded and served as director of the Maroon and Orange Swim Camps from 2000-2018. In 2004, Skinner earned his Ph.D in education curriculum and instruction from Virginia Tech.

“I am very excited to become a part of Hollins University and serve in the athletics department,” Skinner said. “I felt an immediate connection with Myra Sims and am looking forward to working with her.  The opportunity to teach classes and be the aquatics director will be enjoyable new challenges for me. I am also impressed by the other coaches and administrators and feel a real camaraderie among the staff, which is important to me. The current group of swimmers is eager to get started and I am excited by their unity and commitment to the program.”

Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Skinner served as director of swimming at the College of William & Mary, a position he held from 1994-1998. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Louisiana State University before launching his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio University. Upon receiving his M.S. in athletic administration degree at OU, Skinner got his first chance to be a head coach at Central Connecticut State University.

 


New Strength and Conditioning Position “Is a Tremendous Step Forward for Hollins Athletics”

Hollins University Director of Athletics Myra Sims has announced that Leslie Williams is the school’s new strength and conditioning coach. She will begin working on a part-time basis with Hollins’ athletic teams and student-athletes this semester.

Williams comes to Hollins from Virginia Tech, where she has served as a coordinator of curricular initiatives since January 2017. Previously, she was a graduate assistant in strength and conditioning and an assistant strength and conditioning coach for Olympic Sports.

“Adding this strength and conditioning position is a tremendous step forward for Hollins athletics,” says Sims. “Leslie is a great fit for our program, having the background and experience that will allow her to provide a quality training program for our student-athletes.”

Williams completed her undergraduate degree in exercise and sport science at Bluefield College, where she was a four-year student-athlete in tennis. After graduation, she spent a year at Coastal Carolina University as a strength and conditioning intern before earning her master’s degree at Virginia Tech.

“I am honored to be a part of the Hollins University sports performance team, and look forward to serving the student-athletes through comprehensive program design, proactive training, and practical application,” Williams says. “My goal is to reduce the risk of injury while addressing and enhancing physical performance and increasing mental and physical toughness. My training philosophy is rooted upon ground-based, multi-joint movements that simulate realistic competition.”


Hollins Basketball Announces “Rising Star” as New Head Coach

Emilee Dunton has been named the new head basketball coach at Hollins University. She succeeds Jenny Logan, who left the basketball program in August to become head coach at Eastern Mennonite University.

“I am humbled and honored to get this opportunity, and I’d like to thank [Director of Athletics] Myra Sims and the search committee for entrusting me to lead the program,” Dunton stated. “It is an exciting time to be a part of the Hollins community with Myra and President Pareena Lawrence. I truly believe that with the current administration and the quality of academics, the women’s basketball program will gain respect within the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).”

Dunton comes to Hollins after a successful three-year stint as head women’s basketball coach at Liberty High School in Bedford, Virginia. She led the team to two conference championship appearances and was selected as the Conference 30 Coach of the Year in 2016. She is no stranger to the ODAC, having been a student-athlete at Randolph College, where she graduated in 2015. While a member of the WildCat basketball team, she was a captain and a key component of the 2014 squad that tied the program record for wins in a season. She also earned Academic All ODAC and VaSID Academic All State honors.

“I am thrilled to have Emilee become our next head basketball coach,” said Sims. “She is an energetic and committed young leader who did an outstanding job with the program at Liberty High School. A number of well-respected coaches have expressed a high level of respect for her basketball IQ and her ability to effectively transition into collegiate coaching. Several of her references have called her a ‘rising star’ in the college coaching ranks. She has demonstrated a strong vision for our program and convinced us during the interview process of her ability to effectively sell that vision to current and future Hollins players.”

 


Kosicki to Lead Hollins Tennis

After a nationwide search, Hollins University Director of Athletics Myra Sims has announced that Alex Kosicki will become the new head coach of the Hollins tennis program. He will take over the day-to-day operations on August 6.

Kosicki comes to Hollins from Division III Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, where he had served as head tennis coach since 2016. Highlights of his career as Wesleyan include the USA South Conference Sportsmanship Award and the ITA Regional Community Service and Outreach Award, both in 2017. In addition, seven different players last year earned ITA All-Academic status, and his team won the Wesleyan Team GPA Award with a cumulative 3.55 GPA. In addition to his tennis duties, Kosicki also served as head coach of the cross country team after Wesleyan brought the program back after a four-year hiatus.

“I am very pleased that Alex will be leading our tennis program.” Sims said. “He is a relentless recruiter, has a strong reputation for developing the tennis skills of individual players, and is focused on creating a great team dynamic in which student-athletes can thrive.  He is committed to building community within his team and within the athletic department.”

Prior to coaching at Wesleyan, Kosicki served as the associate head tennis coach for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Western New England University (WNEU) in Massachusetts. WNEU teams won over 100 matches during his eight-year tenure. From 2013-16, Kosicki also coached women’s basketball at Holyoke Community College and spent a year as their interim sports information director.

Sims noted, “With more than 10 years in Division III tennis, Alex brings the experience and knowledge that Hollins needs right now.  Hollins has enjoyed tremendous accomplishment in tennis in the recent past and I am confident that Alex is the right person to lead the program into the next era of success.”

Kosicki is a 2008 graduate of Springfield College, where he was a four-year member of the tennis team.

“I would like to thank Myra Sims and the rest of the search committee for this wonderful opportunity,” he said. “Hollins has a reputation of excellence, both academically and athletically, and I am really excited to be a part of this culture. I look forward to meeting the team and becoming a part of the Hollins community.”


Hollins Tabs Keagins to Lead Lacrosse Program

Kate Keagins, who served as head lacrosse coach at South Carolina’s Coker College for the past two seasons, has been named head coach of Hollins Lacrosse. She will assume day-to-day operations of the lacrosse program on July 16.

Keagins was selected as the South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading the Division II Cobras to their best record in program history. She also coached the conference Player of the Year that season while the program received Division II top 20 recognition.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Kate take over the lacrosse program at Hollins,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “She is committed to developing individual players and building a strong team culture. She believes in keeping it fun while also promoting a solid work ethic every day.”

A native of Bay Shore, New York, Keagins is a 2012 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where she was an America East All Conference selection. She was named to the 2009 America East Rookie Team and earned Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Northeast All Region honors. Following her senior season, she was voted the America East Fans’ Choice Player of the Year.

After graduation, Keagins began her coaching career at Longwood University of the Big South Conference. From 2013-15, she was responsible for organizing practices, recruiting, team travel, camps, clinics, and player development.

“Kate has extensive youth lacrosse and high school contacts in the mid-Atlantic region from her coaching experience at Longwood. I am confident she can help our program develop over time with strong recruitment of qualified student-athletes,” said Sims.

 


Hollins Swimming Earns Scholar All-America Honors

The Hollins University swim team has been awarded Scholar All-America status for the Spring 2018 semester by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).

This is the sixth semester in a row in which the CSCAA has honored Hollins Swimming. To receive Scholar All-America status, teams must have earned a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the semester. The swim team boasted a 3.52 GPA this spring.

Hollins Swimming can also claim the distinction of being the top academic team within the Old Dominion Athletic Conference overall for the second consecutive semester.

“We can’t wait to continue this trend next year,” said Head Swim Coach Patrick Richardson.


Hollins Athletics Forms Partnership with Adidas

Hollins University Director of Athletics Myra Sims has announced a new collaboration between Hollins and Adidas in which the athletic shoe and clothing giant will become the official provider of uniforms, apparel, and equipment for Hollins Athletics.

The agreement was made in conjunction with Team Sports Outfitters, a full-service sporting goods store located in Bristol, Tennessee.

“We are excited to forge this partnership with Adidas and Team Sports Outfitters,” says Sims. “This generous agreement will provide our student-athletes and coaches with top-quality apparel and equipment.”

Volleyball team member Brie Faircloth ’21 was among the student-athletes who previewed the merchandise and equipment that would be coming Hollins’ way. “I am completely ecstatic about Hollins becoming an Adidas school,” she says. “Adidas is as recognized as any other athletic brand and I am proud to be representing it on the court.”

Sims believes the relationship between Hollins and Adidas will not only provide benefits to the university’s current competitors, but will also be seen as a positive step forward in the minds of future student-athletes. “Our association with the Adidas brand will certainly bring more visibility and credibility to Hollins Athletics. I feel certain that this will be a significant asset in attracting talented student-athletes to our teams.”

This fall, athletic teams at Hollins will begin sporting the Adidas brand as uniforms, travel wear, shoes, and equipment are gradually replaced. At the same time, Adidas-brand Hollins gear will be made available for purchase on the Hollins Athletics website.


Senior Student-Athlete Receives Major NCAA Scholarship

Hollins University senior and swimming standout Dani Raymond has been awarded the NCAA Women’s Enhancement Graduate Scholarship, which supports students enrolled in a sports-related program as a full-time graduate student.

Raymond, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in sports management beginning this fall at Virginia Commonwealth University, will receive a $7,500 nonrenewable scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year.

Raymond competed as a member of the Hollins swim team during each of her four years as an undergraduate and was the team’s primary distance swimmer. Highlights of her career include serving as team captain for two years and receiving the Bonnie Kestner Sportsmanship Award at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Swim Championships. Outside the pool, she served as both a team representative and an officer with the Hollins Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and completed internships with the ODAC and the Hollins Sports Information office.

Raymond will graduate this May with a double major in English and communication studies, and participated in the university’s Batten Leadership Institute. Her academic accomplishments include earning Academic All-ODAC and VaSID Academic All-State citations. She is a Batten Scholar at Hollins and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Chi Sigma Alpha, and Lambda Pi Eta.

As a scholarship recipient, Raymond is invited to attend the 2018 NCAA Career in Sports Forum (CSF), which will take place at the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, May 31 – June 3. The CSF brings together 200 selected student-athletes to learn about careers in sports with a primary focus on intercollegiate athletics. The educational event is designed to assist student-athletes in charting their careers in the business, giving them the opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals.