SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (March 11, 2009) – Laurie Priest, Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics at Mount Holyoke College since 1989, has been selected by the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD) as its 2009 Pathfinder Award winner.
She was honored at MAHPERD's annual Honor Awards Banquet in Worcester, Mass. on Sunday. The Pathfinder Award is given to the person who has made outstanding contributions and commitment to girls' and women's athletics.
"I'm very humbled to be selected for this award," said Priest. "My professional work has been dedicated to gender equality my whole career. Sports are a great venue for both boys and girls to gain confidence and respect. However, women have been the ones denied these opportunities in the past. This issue has been real labor of love for me.”
Priest has been a leading authority and advocate of women's sports and organizations for 20 years. Over her career, she has given the majority of her time to committees that involve women. She served as President of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) in 1989-1990 and has consistently donated her time and energy to accomplished committees, including the NCAA Women's Committee on Committees (1991-1994), the Executive Council of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (1993-1996), the Executive Board of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) (1996-2000) and the Board of Governors for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (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.
Priest received her B.S. in physical education from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and her M.S. 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 in Arlington, Virginia.