LETTER — Winningest women’s coach at Longwood up for debate
To The Editor:
This letter is for two purposes. One, I want to commend you for your recent articles concerning Kathy Riley’s retirement as softball coach at Longwood University. You certainly gave her the credit she was due, and I’m sure many are quite sad not to be able to follow such a stellar coach in our “own backyards.”
I am an alumni and professor emeritus, having served on the teaching faculty in kinesiology for 33 years. I was teaching when Kathy was hired and was amazed in how the softball team continued to climb to higher successes as the years rolled along.
The second reason for this note is a concern for one of your comments, which was contributed by Chris Cook, the assistant vice president for athletics communications. I quote: “Cook noted that Riley steps away as the winningest women’s varsity coach in Longwood’s 100-year history of athletics.”
In no way do I intend to take away any of the achievements thus recorded for Kathy, but I do have grave concerns about two women coaches who could also claim that title, Olive Iler and Dr. Barbara Smith.
Olive ller was hired by Longwood in 1925 to both teach and coach, and retired after 41 years in 1966. She served as head coach of all three intercollegiate sports of basketball, field hockey, and tennis, all with remarkable successes.
She was honored, posthumously, in 2009 to the Longwood University Sports Hall of Fame and in 1979, to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of her outstanding work.
Dr. Barbara Smith and I taught together in the Kinesiology School for over 30 years, with both of us retiring in the late ’90s. Barbara Smith, as the varsity women’s golf coach, brought Longwood the only national championships ever accomplished in the history of Longwood athletics. There were two following Barbara’s retirement, which had some of the same players Barbara had trained and were instrumental in the former three titles.
In all due respect, I would like for it to be publically known that these two women coaches also fall into the same category as winningest coaches in Longwood’s intercollegiate history. Barbara Smith’s national championships are truly a challenge for which all teams should aim.
Thank you for this consideration.