Miechelle O. Willis
As a young black woman coming of age in the late sixties and the early seventies, Miechelle is self-described as a "militant wannabe." However, it is this pride of culture and heritage that enabled Miechelle to excel in every endeavor she attempted after leaving the halls of South and the relative comfort of the place where "...teachers really cared." Miechelle was determined to make her mark in the world built on the foundation that was formed on the athletic fields of High School South. Searching for both racial identity and familial connections with a drive and verve to succeed, Miechelle headed off to Grambling State University in Louisiana. Finding the connections, challenges and self-worth she sought, Miechelle not only made her mark on the athletic field as a pentathlete for the Lady Tigers, but also excelled in the classroom, graduating Cum Laude from Grambling State University in 1976. Bitten with the academic bug and fueled by a true love for sport, Miechelle continued her quest at Grambling earning a Master of Science degree in Athletic Administration in 1978. Her stay at Grambling State University would provide the underpinnings for a superlative career in athletic administration.
Returning to New Jersey in 1978, Miechelle emerged as a young leader in a world dominated by men. In the nine years she spent at Montclair State College, Miechelle coordinated the athletic drug and alcohol education program as well as being the NCAA Site Coordinator of Drug Testing. In addition, she was also the Sports Director of the National Association for Blind Athletes. Miechelle also found time to coach the women's cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field teams at Montclair State College. It was during this time that Miechelle sought to fulfill a lifelong dream - a career as a veterinarian. In an effort to see that dream fulfilled, Miechelle entered the Air Force Reserve where she served as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician in the 69th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1989. There are countless collegiate athletes who will forever remain grateful that Miechelle's veterinarian dream remained forever a dream. Never one to sit still, as if the military and college administrative posts weren't enough, Miechelle worked part-time at Giants Stadium and also sewed as a trainer for professional football players developing individualized running programs.
Utilizing the experience she gained at Montclair State College as a springboard, Miechelle worked at Temple University from 1987-1994. During this time, she honed her administrative skills where she quickly moved up the athletic administrative ladder. She continued with some familiar tasks in the areas of student-athlete drug testing and administrative operations. Once again, Miechelle's affable nature, competitive spirit, strength of character, and administrative acumen allowed her to move from Assistant Director of Athletics to Associate Director of Athletics.
In 1994, Miechelle moved on to Ohio State University where she currently serves as the Associate Director of Athletics. Ohio State University is one of our nation's largest universities with over 35 sports programs on the varsity level with an operating budget of sixty-eight million dollars. Miechelle is directly responsible for overseeing 17 of these sports, including men's and women's basketball. Her responsibilities also include: NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Executive Committee, Big Ten Conference Academic, Compliance and Eligibility Committee, and the University Recreational Sports Committee, Comprehensive Compliance Committee (for athletes). In her spare time, Miechelle gives of herself willingly to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbus, Ohio; National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators; and Corporate Sisters of Columbus.
Miechelle's accomplishments, both in athletic administration and through her community service efforts, are dwarfed by her ability to be perceived as a role model by all who come in contact with her. Through her deeds and examples, she has given promise and voice to a generation of young women who now can replace hope with self-determination and achievement.
Today, the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame is pleased to honor Miechelle O. Willis. We are extremely proud that she used her early years in the Toms River Schools as a catalyst to spread a sense of self-worth, commitment and a true desire to inspire others across this great nation. Miechelle, we salute you as a most laudable inductee into the Hall of Fame.
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