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CHARLOTTESVILLEBarbara Kelly, a member of the Virginia athletics department staff for 38 years and one of the driving forces behind the creation and development of a nationally competitive women’s intercollegiate athletics program at UVa, has announced she is planning to retire in 2009.

Kelly’s many achievements and contributions to women’s intercollegiate athletics will be celebrated during Virginia’s recognition of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 8 when UVa’s women’s basketball team plays Virginia Tech at John Paul Jones Arena.

“Barbara Kelly is a trailblazer, educator and mentor who will be remembered as being the person that set the stage for advancing women’s sports at the University of Virginia,” said Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage. “In addition, she was the visionary for the creation of the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament. Her work has left an indelible mark on the opportunities and careers of thousands of female student-athletes.”

Kelly, who is currently assistant athletics director for planning and special projects at Virginia, was the pivotal force that led the Atlantic Coast Conference to offer championships for women student-athletes at its member institutions. She was honored by the conference in March of 2002 at the 25th annual ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament as the tournament’s founder and first tournament director.

Shortly after undergraduate women were admitted to the University in 1970, Kelly was hired to plan and develop a women’s athletics program to include intramural, club and intercollegiate sports. In the fall of 1971, she became UVa’s first full-time female athletics staff member when she was appointed assistant director of intramural and physical education.

After developing a successful intramural and club sports program for women, Kelly was named director of women’s sports and primary senior woman’s administrator. She worked to bring about the University’s first three women’s varsity intercollegiate teams (field hockey, basketball and tennis) in 1973-74. Kelly coached the first two women’s basketball teams to an overall record of 25-12. Virginia’s women’s intercollegiate athletics program currently features 13 varsity sports.

She resigned as women’s head basketball coach at UVa to focus on the continued development of women’s athletics at the University and throughout the ACC and nation. Kelly is one of the co-founders of the University’s Women’s Faculty and Professional Association and was a recipient of its Woman of Achievement Award. Her work in developing women’s athletics has been honored by the University of Virginia Women’s Center and the athletics department.

As a member of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, she has served on numerous NCAA, ACC, AIAW, VAIAW, University and athletics department committees. She was a Phi Delta Kappa inductee in 1961 and served the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame as the first woman on its Board of Directors from 1977-79. She is listed in editions of the “World Who’s Who of Women,” “Personalities of the South” and “Marquis Who’s Who.”

Before coming to UVa, Kelly taught in the Norfolk school system for 10 years as a health and physical education teacher, intramural director and camp counselor. She served the Norfolk Recreation Department as a certified referee in basketball, volleyball and softball, and as director of weekend day camp sessions for underprivileged children and director of summer day camp programs. While working as the director of the department’s summer day camp program, Kelly saved the life of a visiting tourist off the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Kelly is a native of Garner, N.C. She was a four-year letter winner and a team co-captain in basketball at Garner High School. Upon graduation from high school, Kelly was recruited to play semiprofessional fast-pitch softball in state and national championship competition in North Carolina and Virginia until 1971. Although she was offered one of the first basketball scholarships in Wake County to Pineland Junior College (1956), she attended Campbell University and played basketball for two seasons prior to transferring to East Carolina University.

Kelly earned her associate of arts degree from Campbell in 1959, a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from East Carolina in 1961 and a master’s of education degree from the College of William and Mary in 1971. During East Carolina University’s Centennial Celebration in October of 2007, the ECU Women’s Roundtable recognized her outstanding achievements and leadership in sports. Her profile was featured in the Centennial publication entitled “A Legacy of Leadership: One Hundred Incredible ECU Women.”

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