(Sept. 2, 2011) -- UTSA Athletics Director Lynn Hickey received the ATHENA Leadership Award from the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce last Thursday, Sept. 8. The award was presented to Hickey during the North Chamber Enterprising Women’s ATHENA Awards Luncheon, which was held at the Omni Hotel at the Colonnade.
Hickey, who begins her 13th year at UTSA in October, has made student-athlete welfare one of her top priorities as she continues to work to bring the athletics department to the upper echelon of the NCAA Division I standings. Under Hickey’s direction, UTSA has captured two Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cups as the league’s top athletics department and two men’s and one women’s all-sports trophies while consistently winning both team and individual academic and athletics awards in all 17 sports sponsored by the university.
As a youngster, Hickey laid awake in bed listening to her mother’s troubled voice coming from the kitchen. “I’m concerned about her. She can’t cook. She can’t sew. She can’t do anything a girl her age should be able to do.” Hickey’s father was quick with an answer, “But, oh momma, have you seen that jump shot?”
Nearly 45 years later, Hickey has followed that jump shot to the top of the collegiate athletic world—blazing a path for young women to follow. She is one of only 25 women heading an NCAA Division I athletics department. She is only the second woman to be appointed to the prestigious NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, and since coming to UTSA, she has initiated two additional women’s sports programs—golf and soccer.
After developing into one of the best prep players in the state of Oklahoma, where she played for her father at Welch High School, Hickey became an All-American at Ouachita Baptist University. She then was a successful women’s basketball head coach at Kansas State and Texas A&M, before entering the world of athletics administration.
The only female athletic director in Texas who oversees both men and women athletics programs, Lynn Hickey is in her 12th year in charge of UTSA Athletics and she has taken the department to the next level. Not only has the university experienced tremendous growth during the past decade under President Dr. Ricardo Romo, the athletics department has grown leaps and bounds under Hickey, as well. She has overseen an unprecedented increase in budget and public exposure to go along with the addition of three sports during her tenure.
In 2008, the UT System Board of Regents granted UTSA permission to start a football program. Hickey then hired two-time National Coach of the Year Larry Coker as the school’s first head football coach in March 2009. The Roadrunners kicked off their inaugural season on Sept. 3 with a 31-1 victory against Northeastern State in front of an NCAA inaugural game record crowd of 56,743 in the Alamodome, which is their home facility thanks in large part to Hickey’s work with the City of San Antonio.
Hickey has been recognized nationally for her hard work. She has been honored as a national administrator of the year and a region athletic director of the year and in 2010, the San Antonio Express-News tabbed her as its Sportswoman of the Year.
Throughout her tenure, Hickey has kept the primary focus on the student-athlete. She has reworked the department’s mission statement to commit staff and coaches to providing “an environment in which student-athletes can be successful academically, athletically and socially.” This has been proven through the many academic and athletic awards bestowed upon the Roadrunners along with the numerous community service projects in which the department participates.
Under Hickey’s leadership, Dream Runners — a program aimed at improving high school graduation rates and encouraging San Antonio youngsters to attend college — and Rowdy Readers — a project where UTSA teams read to elementary age youngsters —have become an important source of motivation for young students in San Antonio.
Hickey believes that discovery is the first step toward realization. “In a city where we struggle to get students to stay in school, graduate and go to college, we need to do everything possible to get youngsters onto our college campus—even if it’s just to attend a college athletic event. I take that responsibility very seriously.”
The ATHENA Leadership Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment by excelling in their chosen field, devoting time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and forging paths of leadership for other women to follow. The ATHENA Leadership Award actively supports and celebrates the ATHENA mission of supporting, developing and honoring women leaders, inspiring women to achieve their full potential - creating balance in leadership worldwide.
North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Leadership Award past winners:
2010 Suzanne Wade, H-E-B
2009 Penny McCutchen Gardner, Community Volunteer
2008 Janie Barrera, ACCION Texas
2007 Rosemary Kowalski, RK Group
2006 Dr. Megan Kromer, Consultant
2005 Dr. Harriett Romo, The University of Texas at San Antonio
2004 Dr. Mary Pat Moyer, INCELL Corporation/TEKSA Innovations
2003 Dr. Susan Blackwood, San Antonio Sports Foundation
2002 Cyndi Taylor Krier, USAA
2001 Christine Prescott, Corporate Travel Planners
2000 Janet Holliday, Clever Endeavors
1999 Gloria "Jo" Floyd, Ph.D., R.N., L.L.C.A., NCEHS
1998 Nancy D. Kellogg, M.D, U. T. Heath Science Center
1997 Cynthia Ruiz McKee, College Resource Materials
1996 Martha Hicks, Coldwell Banker Commercial
1995 Vivian Spurlock, DSS Services
1994 Nancy Jeffreys, Nancy J's Gift Services, Inc.
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