New Athletic Director Builds on the University’s Student-Athlete Experience

Photo of volleyball team

Greetings from the beautiful campus of Hollins University! I arrived at Hollins as the director of athletics last May and am very excited to be here. We are working hard to make the experience of our student-athletes as rewarding and fun as possible.

Staff Updates

We were pleased to welcome several new coaches to Hollins athletics this summer. The tennis, lacrosse, and riding positions were vacant when I arrived so I had to jump in and complete those coaching searches. I am very excited about the individuals we were able to attract.

Lacrosse – Kate Keagins
Coach Keagins came to us from Coker College in South Carolina, a NCAA Division II school where she had been the head coach for two seasons. She was the Carolina Conference Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading the team to its best season record in school history. Kate has experience recruiting the mid-Atlantic region as she spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Kate was a Division I lacrosse player at University of New Hampshire.

Tennis/Cross Country – Alex Kosicki
Coach Kosicki had served as the head tennis/cross country coach at Wesleyan College in Georgia for two seasons prior to arriving at Hollins this summer. Alex served for almost ten years before that as an assistant tennis coach at Western New England University. Alex was a four-year collegiate tennis player at Springfield College and trained for a time at the Bolletierri Tennis Academy, one of the premier tennis training academies in the USA.

Riding – Sherri West
Before I talk about our new Director of Riding/Head Coach, I have to say that Hollins has been so fortunate to have had Nancy Peterson leading the program for all these years. Though I know her retirement is well-deserved, I lament the fact that I will not get to work with her on a daily basis. Going through the search process and seeing the extremely strong pool of candidates that applied to replace her is a real testament to her leadership of the program and the strong reputation that Hollins riding has across the country. Many, many thanks to Nancy Peterson for her stewardship of the riding program. We will honor her legacy as we move forward with Hollins riding.

We are pleased and honored to welcome Sherri West to direct the riding program. Sherri, a native of Vinton, Virginia, has extensive experience in the collegiate riding world after serving for more than 10 years at Virginia Tech. During her time at VT, Sherri led the program to its highest finish ever at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) nationals, to multiple regional team champions and reserve champions, individual IHSA national champions, and multiple individual regional champions. She has served on the IHSA board as well as the American National Riding Commission (ANRC) board and as vice president of the Southwest Virginia Hunter Jumper Association (SVHJA).

Basketball
When basketball coach Jenny Logan let me know in August that she was resigning to accept the head coaching position at Eastern Mennonite University, I was very concerned about finding a replacement given the timing. But I was really pleased with the quality of candidates that we were able to attract as we had more than 50 apply for the position. I am very excited to announce Emilee Dunton as our next head coach. Emilee has successfully led the Liberty High School program in the Lynchburg area for the past three years, is very well-known around the ODAC from her playing days at Randolph, and is considered one of the brightest young coaches in the mid-Atlantic by many established basketball coaches. She is a rising star in the collegiate coaching world and I am thrilled that she will be leading our program at Hollins! Check out the story on Emilee at new basketball coach.


In-Season Sport Outlook

Soccer
Head Coach Robin Ramirez is entering his fifth season leading the program and is excited to welcome the first-ever assistant coach to his staff. Maryann Castaneda is the new part-time assistant coach. The team has shown strong improvement this season. Senior Mallory Jengo (Salem, VA/Glenvar High School) leads the team in goals and shots while first-year Madisen Charles (Roanoke, VA/North Cross School) is second on the team in goals and leads the team in shots on goal. Sophomore Ally Lear (Glen Allen, VA/Hermitage High School) is a solid defensive player who was just selected as Hollins’ athlete of the week based on her strong performances during games in Pennsylvania and New York last weekend. Sophomore Shravani Chitineni (Cary, NC/Panther Creek High School), junior Miranda Springston (Midlothian, VA/Clover Hill High School) and senior Ciera Morris (Ocean View, DE/Indian River High School) are also playing big roles.

Cross Country
Debra Henke (Hillsborough, NC/Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic) and Francesca Reilly (Leesburg, VA/Middleburg Academy) are the top returners from last year. Coach Kosicki welcomes five new runners to the roster this season with Maria Hatch (Meadowview, VA/Patrick Henry) and Evelyn Foster (Cary, NC/Panther Creek) expected to be strong performers. Women’s intercollegiate cross country competes at the 6k distance in most meets, which is an adjustment for many high school runners. The new runners will have to adapt quickly. The team will compete in six meets this fall including two meets at Virginia Tech, one meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Oct. 6th and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championships in Winchester, Virginia, on Oct. 27th.

Volleyball
Coach Kat Lawson had a great recruiting year, adding eight first-year players to the roster. With a strong group of returners, the team jumped out to its best start since the sport was reinstated. Coach Lawson, in her fourth season, was also able to add a part-time assistant coach to her staff recently, which has been a big boost to the program. Assistant coach Heather Stevens was a teammate of Coach Lawson when they both played at Bridgewater. Senior Deja Haden (Norfolk, VA/Norview), who led the team in kills and attacks in her first two seasons but took last year off, returns to the team at the other outside hitter position and is again leading the team in kills and kills per set. First year player Kenna Esquibel (Moreno Valley, CA/Valley View) has played well in the early matches and currently ranks second on the team in kills and digs. The team is led defensively by sophomore Hannah Piatak (Williamsburg, VA/Jamestown), a libero/defensive specialist who leads the team in digs.


Other Sports

The riding team began competition in late September with an open show at home and will have several shows on the road throughout fall semester. Check the full schedule for the team this year at Hollins Riding Schedule.

Basketball and swim teams will start practice later this fall. Swimming has their first meet on October 6 and basketball plays their first game on November 11.

Tennis and lacrosse will have short “non-traditional” seasons during fall with their main seasons coming up next spring.

More detailed updates on these teams will be in future editions after they start their seasons.

Feel free to contact me at any time if you want to tell us about good high school student-athletes in your area, if you have questions or concerns, or if you just want to chat about Hollins athletics. I can be reached at simsms@hollins.edu or at 540-362-6435 and I welcome your call or email at any time. Best wishes and  GO GREEN!

Warmest wishes from the desk of Myra Sims, Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education