From The Desk of the Director
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It has been said that athletics success begins in the mind. No game is won through raw strength alone and no matter how talented you are, you always have something to learn. The recognition of these truths lies at the heart of all of Mount Holyoke's programs in physical education and athletics. That is why instructional classes for "non-athletes," for example, live under the same roof as our competitive NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletics program and why all our coaches are dedicated both to building successful programs for their athletes and to teaching a variety of classes in the instructional program. It's also why we require all students to take three semesters of physical education classes in their four years here. We want to give each student the chance to reach her full physical potential, whether that means allowing the athlete within to shine through, or simply discovering enjoyable activities that will enhance the rest of her life.
Getting to Know Laurie Priest
Laurie Priest has been Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics at Mount Holyoke since 1989. Priest is a tireless advocate for equity in sport for girls and women and is recognized nationally for her work to promote and support Title IX. In recent years, she has focused much of her outside professional work towards combating homophobia in intercollegiate athletics. She recently served as Chair of the Social Justice Committee of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). Additionally, she often speaks on the importance of addressing social justice issues in sport.
Over her career, Priest has given the majority of her time to committees that involve women. She served as President of the National Association for Girls and Women (NAGWS) in Sport in 1989-90 and has consistently donated her time and energy to accomplished committees, including the NCAA Women's Committee on Committees (1991-94), the Executive Council of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (1993-96), the Executive Board of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) (1996-2000) and the Board of Governors for AAHPERD (1999-2002).
In addition to her numerous responsibilities at Mount Holyoke, Priest has published many articles and is a frequent presenter at conferences. She has received several awards for her contributions to women's athletics. In 1991, she received the Mabel Lee award from AAHPERD, and in 1992, she was inducted into the Northeast New Agenda Hall of Fame. In 1997, Priest was awarded the Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Merit Award for outstanding leadership.
Most recently, Priest was named the 2002 Woman of the Year for Division III athletics by NACWAA and was recognized by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport as their Honor Award recipient that same year. In 2007, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport. Two years later, she was selected by the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance as its Pathfinder Award winner.
Priest received her Bachelor of Science Degree in physical education from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and her Master of Science Degree in exercise physiology from the University of Maryland-College Park. Prior to coming to Mount Holyoke, Priest served for seven years as Director of Athletics, Assistant Professor and Swim Coach at Marymount University (Va.).
When Priest is not at Mount Holyoke, you will find her hiking with her three dogs or sea kayaking the islands of Maine.