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George Olney ’71: Once A Coach, Always a Coach

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Published:

April 3, 2012
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History, Garden City
 

George Olney ’71: Once A Coach, Always a Coach

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Director of Athletic Development at Kennesaw State University

Favorite Professors: Sal Primeggia, Jerry Fishman, and Les Baltimore

Strongest Memory: Addressing the Class of 1971 at Commencement. “The Vietnam era really impacted all of us; I wanted to challenge us to be the best we could and to do good things.”

Advice for Adelphi Students: “Open your eyes and your mind. Adelphi will give you experiences that you can pull from through your whole life.”

Once a Coach, Always a Coach

For the first time in his career, George Olney ’71 has his Adelphi diplomas on the wall of his office. “Teachers don’t hang them up,” he says, “and in the corporate world nobody had hung theirs. But now I work at a university, and I’m proud of my days at Adelphi.”

As the director of athletic development for Kennesaw State University in Georgia, Mr. Olney is responsible for “everything where athletics touches the public.” He oversees fundraising efforts, ticket sales and promotions, sponsorships, and sports information and media relations.

The former manager of Adelphi’s basketball team, and a devoted coach of youth sports, Mr. Olney is quick to credit his success to past experiences. “Everything I’ve done has prepared me for this,” he says.

People often ask him how he is able to make quick decisions. “It’s from coaching,” he answers, “when you have 30 seconds to figure out a plan, tune out the distractions, and communicate it with confidence to your players, you really learn to trust your decision-making process.” He also jokes, “Of course, fans will give you quickest, most accurate feedback too!”

Over the years, Mr. Olney has coached over 500 boys and girls in softball, baseball, and basketball, including his two daughters. He has had undefeated teams, won sectional championships, and coached his last game at a national championship tournament, where his team was ranked 12th in the country. Yet, many of his proudest moments have come at Kennesaw State, watching his former players compete in college sports. Some of his athletes have even gone on to become coaches themselves.

As Kennesaw makes the transition from Division II to Division I competition, Mr. Olney has also drawn from his 25 years with AT&T and Lucent Technologies. It was a job offer from Southern Bell, then a part of AT&T, that first drew him from his native Binghamton, New York to Atlanta in 1979. He retired from Lucent as the southeast director of sales for the messaging division in 2004.

Mr. Olney came to Adelphi in 1969 because he was drawn to the excitement of the New York metropolitan area. “I used to spend summers in Bay Ridge with my family,” he remembers, “and one year we visited Adelphi. I felt instantly at home on campus.”

“In my four years, I never had a bad experience,” he recalls. Mr. Olney was forced to stop playing sports in high school, and came to Adelphi knowing that coaching was his top priority. He credits Coach Mike Gordon as a great mentor and teacher, “I used to sit at the scorer’s table or on the bench in practices and just listen to everything he said.”

Mr. Olney was also a member of Flambeau, and Pi Lambda Phi. He remembers competing in many fierce inter-fraternity softball and basketball games. His “childhood sweetheart,” Barbara, née Forbis, ’73 also attended Adelphi, and they have great memories of their years together on campus. When he was the director of Chapman Hall as a graduate student, Barbara was the only woman living in the residence hall. She was often asked to help sew on a missing button or act as a sounding board to the male students.

Mr. and Mrs. Olney live in Marietta, Georgia where they enjoy playing golf, traveling, and spending time with their two adult daughters, and granddaughter Alyce.

 
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History, Garden City
 
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