Erin Doherty Named New Lacrosse Coach

Erin Doherty is the new head coach of Hollins University Lacrosse.

Doherty comes to Hollins from NCAA Division II Upper Iowa University, where she has served as head coach since 2017 and was tasked with launching the Peacocks’ lacrosse program. in her three years at the helm, she brought to the school 17 players from 10 different states. Previously, she was head coach at Bay Path University, a women’s college in Massachusetts, and an assistant coach at Western New England University (WNE). During her time at WNE, the Golden Bears were Commonwealth Coast Conference champions in 2015 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

“I am so excited to bring Erin to Hollins University to lead our lacrosse program into a new era, as we are committed to a successful relaunch of the program,” said Hollins Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “Given Hollins’ long tradition in the sport and the need to rebuild about a year off due to the pandemic, I am confident that Erin brings the right mix of experience in coaching and recruiting, and a strong commitment to the successful mentorship and development of young women. She has previously worked at a single-gender institution, established a brand new program, and been part of a highly successful Division III program. All of those experiences will be invaluable as she rebuilds the Hollins program. Erin has many connections in the lacrosse world from her time recruiting at three different institutions, and I am confident that she will be successful as a recruiter and as a leader for our lacrosse student-athletes.”

“I am excited and thankful to become part of the Hollins University community and family,” Doherty said. “The energy and passion of the administration, fellow coaches, and student-athletes is what has drawn me to Hollins. It is really something special to see and be asked to join. I am thrilled to be working with the current team, alumnae, and admission to bring the lacrosse program into its next phase.”

Doherty starts full-time at Hollins on June 7.


“My True Calling Is Helping People”: Hanna DeVarona ’21 Prepares for a Career in Public Health

As a veteran of 34 meets, including four Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship competitions, and co-holder of multiple relay event records, Hanna DeVarona ’21 of the Hollins University swim team is one of the school’s most accomplished student-athletes. She has placed in the top 16 in multiple events each year at the ODAC Championships, and this March the conference recognized her with one of its highest honors, the Bonnie Kestner Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes ODAC swimmers who “have demonstrated consistently good sportsmanship, ethical behavior, and unselfishness in his/her daily participation in intercollegiate athletics.”

Competing in a sport she loves convinced DeVarona that athletics would be her vocation. However, taking Associate Professor of Communication Studies Lori Joseph’s Health Communication course as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged during her junior year gave the business major a new perspective. After graduating from Hollins this spring, DeVarona will begin her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in communication and marketing at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I had never considered public health before, and that class made me realize that in the past I had actually been afraid to learn about health myself. When I was able to study it, I was no longer afraid,” DeVarona explained. “I know there are people out there who are just as afraid as I was to learn about health, but I don’t want them to fear something that isn’t fearful.”

DeVarona’s aspiration of becoming a health communication specialist may be a departure from her previous, long-standing career goal, but she remains steadfastly committed to what she describes as “my true calling, which is helping people as much as I can. I enjoy it, and that’s the whole reason why I’m drawn to public health.”

For the Woodbridge, Virginia, native, “being a true student-athlete has been absolutely wonderful. When I was looking at Hollins what stood out to me was that I could find that balance. Hollins does such a great job of that. The coaches understand that you are a student before you are an athlete, and the professors are supportive and accommodating as well. I really give credit to my professors and my coaches as well as my teammates for being able to get things done throughout my four years here.”

DeVarona’s list of accomplishments is indeed impressive. In addition to majoring in business with a concentration in marketing, she is minoring in both communication studies and economics. She’s a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee; Omicron Delta Epsilon (the academic honor society in economics); and the Honor, Conduct, and Appeal Board. She’s been a lead admissions ambassador and an orientation team leader, and she’s pursuing a certificate in leadership from the Batten Leadership Institute. This year, she’s serving as the Hollins Student Government Association’s athletic chair and has been inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, the student-athlete national honor society. For the 2019-20 academic year, she was awarded the Hollins Athletics Service Award, which honors the individual who has best shown the true character of Hollins in rendering service to the athletic department while demonstrating a high degree of leadership, initiative, and dedication.

DeVarona has also completed three internships during her undergraduate career, one each on campus with the university’s alumnae relations and athletic departments, and a virtual internship during this year’s January Short Term in global communications at The Estée Lauder Companies in New York City.

“Even though it was remote, I learned a lot,” she said. One of the highlights was attending virtually an international summit in Hong Kong, where she got a global outlook on dealing with reputation and issues management. During the month, she also participated in researching and drafting briefings for Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus and former CEO of Estée Lauder, as he prepared for media interviews in conjunction with the release of his new book, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty.

“I got to meet a lot of great people, some of whom studied health communications in graduate school and offered to help me with making connections in the D.C. area if I chose to pursue that career path,” she added.

On a personal level, DeVarona says she has benefited from the camaraderie she’s enjoyed as a member of the swim team. “We’re all equals, we’re all here to swim with each other, and our goal has been to have as much fun with each other as possible.” Those bonds have become even stronger during the pandemic. “This year our team has definitely grown more into a family. That’s something that I want to take along with me in the future. Even when we went home during Winter Break, we all got together regularly on Zoom calls and even played games online. Among Us (an online multiplayer social deduction game) was the most popular.”

At GW, DeVarona is hoping to continue swimming competitively. The university has a club team, but “there’s a chance I could compete with their varsity team since I still have eligibility.”

When DeVarona was recruited to swim at Hollins, “the moment I first stepped on campus, it felt like home. When I heard about the connections you make with the professors and alumnae, that put everything in place for me. I don’t think I’d be where I am, or who I am, today if I went somewhere else. I’m just really thankful to Hollins for giving me so many opportunities and helping me pursue things I’m so passionate about.”

 


Chi Alpha Sigma Inducts Eight Hollins Student-Athletes

 

 

Chi Alpha Sigma, the national honor society recognizing collegiate student-athletes for their achievements in athletic competition as well as in the classroom, is welcoming eight new members from Hollins University Athletics.

 

 

New inductees for the 2020-21 academic year include:

Kaeley Aroesty ’22 – Riding
Hannah Arthur ’22 – Volleyball and Riding
Madeline Evangelista ’21 – Swimming
Sarah Grace Himes ’22 – Riding
Summer Jaime ’22 – Swimming
Hannah Jones ’22 – Riding
Abigail Richards ’22 – Soccer
Kayla Surles ’22 – Basketball

The eight new members join the 18 Hollins student-athletes who were inducted for the 2019-20 academic year:

Juliette Baek ’20 – Tennis
Megan Bull ’21 – Swimming
Shravani Chitineni ’21 – Soccer
Grace Davis ’21 – Cross Country and Swimming
Hanna DeVarona ’21 – Swimming
Elizabeth Eubank ’21 – Tennis
Carsen Helms ’22 – Basketball and Lacrosse
Logan Landfried ’21 – Riding and Lacrosse
Emily Miehlke ’21 – Swimming
Hannah Piatak ’21 – Volleyball
Claire Reid ’20 – Riding
Cecilia Riddle ’20 – Basketball and Track & Field
Alex Sanchez ’20 – Swimming and Riding
Caylin Smith ’21 – Soccer
Molly Sullivan ’21 – Swimming
Madi Szurley ’21 – Lacrosse
Keyazia Taylor ’21 – Basketball
Yasmine Tyler ’21 – Basketball

Chi Alpha Sigma honors college student-athletes who participate in a sport at the varsity intercollegiate level, achieve junior academic standing or higher after their fifth full time semester, and earn a 3.4 or higher cumulative grade point average.

 

 


Hollins Athletics Welcomes Aaron Green as Head Swim Coach

Aaron Green has been named the new head coach for Hollins University Swimming. He will join Hollins Athletics on a part-time basis beginning June 1 and assume full-time duties on August 1.

Green comes to Hollins from the University of Lynchburg, where he’s been a graduate assistant swim coach since August 2019. In his time with the Hornets, he played a significant role in starting their swim program from scratch, helping recruit more than 30 student-athletes. In just two years, the Lynchburg men’s and women’s teams grew to more than 50 swimmers. In 2021, the women’s team captured the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship and the men’s team earned runner-up honors. In addition, the Lynchburg swim staff was named ODAC Coaching Staff of the Year for 2021.

“I am so excited that Aaron will be leading our swim program into the future,” said Hollins Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “His successful experience as an assistant coach at Lynchburg, and his own outstanding collegiate swimming career, have given him realistic insight into building and sustaining a strong program. He has a strong commitment to the sport and to coaching, and I am confident that he will be a positive role model and mentor to our swimmers. Aaron will bring a lot of enthusiasm and dedication, and I look forward to working with him.”

Green was a standout swimmer at NCAA Division III Widener University in Pennsylvania. He competed at the NCAA DIII Swim Championships as a junior and senior, and was named a four-time Honorable Mention All-American after finishing ninth in the 50 free and 11th in the 100 free at the 2018 championships, and 10th in both the 50 and 100 free at the 2019 championships. Green was named Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Rookie of the Year in 2016 and the MAC Male Swimmer of the Year three times from 2017 – 2019. He captained the Lions swim squad and was also recognized as the 2019 Widener University Male Athlete of the Year.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to embark on the next step of my journey at Hollins University,” Green said. “I am both humbled and eager to work under the leadership of President Mary Dana Hinton and Director of Athletics Myra Sims. I am dedicated and determined to help lead our swim team to success both in and out of the pool, and look forward to bringing new and fresh ideas to the program.”

Green succeeds former head swim coach Ned Skinner, who became head coach and director of swimming for the Virginia Gators.

 


Support Hollins Athletics By Joining In The Hollins Hustle Virtual 5K

Whether you’re an expert marathoner, casual runner, walker, hiker, or just want to be outside, you can take part in the Hollins Hustle Virtual 5k, April 5 – 12.

The cost is $25, and all proceeds benefit the Hollins University Athletic Department. Each participant will receive a Hollins Hustle race bib and a certificate of completion.

The registration deadline has been extended to midnight on April 2. Enter a gift amount of at least $25 and select “One-Time Gift.” Then, select “Friends of Athletics 5k Registration” and complete the giving form. Please include your current email address.

Here’s how the Hollins Hustle Virtual 5k works: Any time between April 5 and 12, in any location around the world, the 5k can be run, jogged, or walked on the road, trail, or treadmill, at the gym or on the track. Be sure to document your distance and time on an app such as Strava, Charity Miles, Map My Run, or others. Then, take a screen shot of your results and email it to Sports Information Director Justin McIlwee at mcilweej@hollins.edu.

Be sure to use the hashtag #HollinsHustle during the event to let us know you’re hustling for Hollins Athletics!

Medals will be awarded to the top two individuals in each of the following categories:

  • Age group winners: Under 20, 20-39, 40-59, 60 & over
  • Most picturesque image taken during the Hustle
  • Best selfie taken during the Hustle
  • Best Hollins spirit picture taken during the Hustle

The Hollins Hustle Virtual 5k is an event for anyone and everyone.

 


Hollins Will Not Compete In Intermediate Transmission Risk Sports This Spring

Hollins University Athletics has decided to opt out of intermediate transmission risk sports, as defined by the NCAA, during Spring 2021.

Hollins will not compete in women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s indoor track and field, or women’s lacrosse.

In December, the university announced it was canceling women’s basketball for the 2021 season.

“I am heartbroken for all our athletes that this year has been so disrupted, regardless of what else happens this spring. But I am especially sorry for our seniors,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims.

Sims and Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton stated that keeping students safe is their top priority.

“The higher transmission risk at the intermediate level, combined with the unpredictability of the virus and the likelihood a vaccination for our student population will not arrive until late spring at the earliest, leads us to believe suspending these sports is the only responsible path for us if our priority is to complete the academic term together on campus in the spring,” they noted.

Hollins is still making plans to participate this spring in sports deemed “low risk” by the NCAA. These include cross country, outdoor track and field, tennis, riding, and swimming.

 


Sullivan Promoted to Full-Time XC/Track & Field Coach

Hollins Athletics has promoted Robert Sullivan Jr. from part-time to full-time cross country and track and field coach, starting Feb. 1. He will also be teaching two physical education classes.

“I am thrilled that Coach Sullivan will become full-time,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “He has done outstanding work in his part-time role to lead our cross country program, and to create the brand new indoor and outdoor track and field programs. In fact, it has been amazing to see the progress he has made while serving as a part-time coach.  He is a tireless worker and has a great ability to connect with young women and their families on the recruiting trail. His experience as a high school coach, his strong leadership skills, and his diligent approach make him a great fit for Hollins. Our student-athletes will enjoy tremendous benefit from having access to Coach Sullivan on a full-time basis.”

Sullivan joined the Hollins cross country coaching staff in March 2019 and was named head coach in August of that year. He then became the head coach of track and field in November 2019 as Hollins started the first track and field program in its 178-year history.

In Sullivan’s first season as the head cross country coach, most of the runners ran season- or career-best times. In addition, 12 athletes qualified for Hollins’ first ODAC Indoor Track and Field Championship competition. Numerous school records were set throughout the season while both teams maintained a high academic standing averaging a 3.4 GPA in the fall and spring semesters. Ten cross country/track and field athletes were named to the ODAC All-Academic Team and two track and field athletes earned VaSID All-Academic Team honors. The 2020 Hollins women’s indoor track team was one of 209 colleges that earned NCAA DIII All-Academic Teams status with a team GPA average of 3.24.

Sullivan is looking to build on this year’s success in the 2020-21 season with two assistant coaches joining him for track and field. KC Bratton will assist the team as the sprints, jumps, and hurdles coach while Teresa Craghead will coach throwers.

“I feel very honored to work at Hollins full-time helping not only grow the XC/Track and Field program but the opportunity to mentor Hollins student-athletes for life past Hollins,” Sullivan said. “I would like to thank the Hollins administration and Myra Sims for making this opportunity possible. It will be an honor and privilege to work with such a great group of coaches, athletic staff, administrative staff, and student-athletes at Hollins.”

Sullivan came to Hollins with six years of experience coaching cross country and track and field in high school. At Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville, Virginia, he coached numerous All-District, All-Region, and All-State athletes. The cross country teams finished high in the region and, for the first time in school history, both teams recently qualified for the VHSL cross country meet. Some of his high school runners were able to run on the collegiate level.

Sullivan is a certified USA Track and Field Level One coach. He also maintains other professional fitness certifications, while spending the last 20 years in the health, fitness, and wellness field. He is still very active in athletic events and is an avid runner, having competed in various road races from the 5k to eight half-marathons since the mid-90s.

Sullivan is a 1983 graduate of Lord Botetourt High School where he was a member of the National Honor Society. He and his wife reside in Botetourt County.


Hollins Track and Field Team Earns Academic Honor

In just their first season of competition, Hollins University’s indoor track and field team has been named a 2020 Division III All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The team finished the 2019-20 academic year with a cumulative 3.24 GPA.

Hollins is one of eight schools from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference to receive All-Academic Team recognition this year.

To be eligible for the award, teams must have finished the 2019-20 season with a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or higher.


Hollins Volleyball Names Interim Head Coach

The Hollins University volleyball team is welcoming veteran local high school and club coach Dave McGee as the program’s interim head coach.

McGee joined James River High School in Buchanan, Virginia, as head volleyball coach in 2012, and has served as head volleyball coach for the Roanoke United Volleyball Club’s 16 Open team since 2010.

“Hollins is fortunate to find a coach like Dave in our own backyard,” said Director of Athletics Myra Sims. “He has a strong reputation in the region for his work and his teams have consistently advanced to district, region, and state tournament play. Clearly, he is able to execute effective coaching strategies.”

At James River, McGee has guided the Knights to five district and two regional championships, and took the team to the Virginia High School League (VHSL) state quarterfinals in 2012. Prior to coming to James River, he was head coach at Bath County High School from 2004 – 2012. Bath County won a state championship in 2011 under his leadership, and he was named VHSL Coach of the Year that same year. In nine years at Bath County, he was voted District Coach of the Year five times and Region Coach of the Year three times.

McGee graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and went on to earn his Master’s degree in kinesiology with a focus in sports psychology from A.T. Still University in Arizona.

“Dave’s educational background and his experience as a USA Volleyball Level 1 and 2 certified coach also give him a strong sense for player development and recruiting,” Sims noted. “His approach to coaching centers on creating a positive environment and developing respectful relationships with the athletes. I think his philosophy of developing players on and off the court will work really well at Hollins.”

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to coach here,” McGee said. “I’ve met the team and they seem like a wonderful group of athletes to work with. I look forward to the season and hope to continue the growing success of Hollins volleyball.”


Casey Mahan ’20 Prepares to Fulfill Her Dream of Becoming an Optometrist

Casey Mahan ’20 has wanted to become an optometrist since high school, and throughout her time at Hollins she gained a wide range of valuable experience in the field.

“My desire to practice optometry really solidified during my sophomore year when I traveled to North Dakota to work with a nonprofit organization called OneSight, which provides eye exams and glasses to children and adults who can’t afford them,” she says. “The following year I spent J-term working with Dr. Vin Dang, an optometrist in Bakersfield, California. I was able to shadow him as well as other optometrists and ophthalmologists, and view surgeries. As a senior I interned at a small optometry practice and loved every aspect of it, especially the relationship between doctor and patient.”

The biology major/chemistry minor from Virginia Beach says she began researching schools of optometry when she entered Hollins, and from the moment she talked with the Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), “I knew it was where I wanted to go, especially because of the early clinical experience they offer. I was also impressed with PCO graduates and what they had to say about the school. Obviously grades and coursework are a top priority for admission, but there’s also a heavy emphasis on getting to know students at the personal level during interviews. Optometry school is rigorous: It takes four years, including three summers, and they need to ensure students are well-prepared as undergraduates.”

Mahan is confident she is ready for the challenges ahead, thanks to both the “student” and “athlete” experiences she has enjoyed. “The biology department played an integral role in my acceptance to PCO, especially Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson. When he became my advisor, he discussed with me the exact coursework I needed to take, when to take it, and how it could make my application stronger. He was always realistic with me about my goals. My friends at larger universities didn’t get the same personal connections with all their professors that I had, and I am forever grateful to Hollins for that.”

As captain of the Hollins volleyball team, which set the program record for victories in a season last year, Mahan believes she “became a better person, leader, and mentor, and better able to adapt to my surroundings. I learned valuable lessons about team dynamics and how they differ from year to year.”