Cindy Connelley said she has “always loved athletics.”
She will be completely immersed in it after being named the athletic director at Husson University in Bangor Monday.
She replaces Rick Stephens, who has taken a senior-level academic position in another state. Stephens had replaced Gabby Price in August. Price resigned and has been able to devote more time to being the school’s head football coach.
“It’s a dynamic time. Husson is making the transition from Husson College to Husson University and the president [Bill Beardsley] has provided contagious leadership. He wants to expand the programs and the facilities,” said Connelley.
“I’ve been fortunate because I’ve been on campus for almost two years as a faculty member and I’ve had a chance to learn the culture and to meet the people I’m working with as well as the students in the classroom. I want it to be as seamless transition as it can be into the athletic department,” Connelley added.
She also said, “I’m passionate about both [academics and athletics]. I knew early in life I wanted to teach and coach.”
Connelley has been an assistant professor of health and physical education in the school of education at the institution and has compiled an impressive resume during her career.
She has been a head coach at the Division I level, guiding the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Bucknell University (Pa.) basketball programs and the Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University softball programs.
Connelley was also the head basketball coach at Division II Catawba College (N.C.).
She was the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year at Tennessee State University.
Her career has also included high school coaching positions as she led Charlotte Latin School to two high school field hockey and two basketball state championships and she was a two-time coach of the year.
She also coached tennis, basketball and track at Hunter Huss High School (N.C.) and was a two-time coach of the year in basketball.
Connelley, who is finishing up her doctorate at Tennessee State, said she will lean heavily on the coaches and assistant athletic directors as she gets accustomed to the job.
“I’ve got a good, solid staff. They’ve done a great job with the program,” said Connelley.
She will seek “equity across the board. We want to be strong from top to bottom. Academic integrity and sportsmanship have been our foundation and they will remain our foundation.”
She said providing the student-athletes with a well-rounded “interdisciplinary experience” academically and athletically is important to their success.
“The key is to stay positive,” she said.
The Agawam High School (Mass.) and Springfield College graduate said the “sky is the limit” when it comes to adding sports and facilities at the school and she recognizes that her fundraising abilities will be put to the test especially during these challenging economic times.
“The opportunities are there. If people are excited about the direction you’re going in, many doors will continue to open,” said Connelley who feels “marketing and the media go hand-in-hand with fund-raising.”
Valuable fundraising tools include consistently successful athletic programs and a progressive approach.
“Husson has extraordinary vision and spirit. We want to build on our energy and use it to motivate us to be better,” said Connelley who expects to maintain a close relationship between the school and the community.
In a press release, Beardsley said, “We see a significantly expanded role for athletics at Husson over the next few years and Cindy is a perfect fit.”