Women’s volleyball | Mon, 09/20/2021 at 1:00 p.m.
OTTAWA, Kan. – University of Ottawa Athletics Director Arabie Conner is pleased to announce that Melissa Blessington has taken on a new role in the Athletics Department, Senior Woman Leader, a position endorsed by the NAIA and held by the University of Ottawa.
“Coach Blessington made a significant influence during her tenure at Ottawa University that reached well beyond the court,” said Conner. “Her impressive track record as a coach speaks for itself, but this appointment goes far beyond records and championship banners. Coach Blessington has challenged and promoted countless young women and men through volleyball and has always demonstrated an exceptional work ethic, resilience and excellent leadership skills is willing to seek challenges and the high demands she places on herself, her program and her fellow men she’s perfect for the role. “
As stated by the NAIA, the Senior Woman Leader will promote meaningful representation of women in the leadership and management of college sports on their respective campuses. This role provides an identifiable female presence at each member institution that staff and student athletes can communicate with. The role of senior female executive may be assumed by a female administrator or trainer who will act as a key stakeholder in senior management decisions related to peer-to-peer athletics on campus.
“I am delighted with all the steps the association is taking to achieve diversity, equality and inclusion with the next intention. Although I am a woman who works as an athletics director, we definitely did not want to miss the opportunity that presented itself. ” committed and fully participate in this growth opportunity by giving a well-deserved female executive in our department additional opportunities. “
NAIA member institutions are expected to develop and fully integrate the senior female executive role into their athletics department structure by August 1, 2023.
Blessington has been involved in college volleyball at the conference and national levels and is no stranger to leadership positions. From 2017 to 2020 she was a member of the NAIA Executive Committee. Blessington is a NAIA KCAC volleyball grader and was the KCAC volleyball commissioner from 2017 to 2019.
Blessington will continue her role as OU volleyball director and head coach for women’s indoor and beach volleyball. She is in her eighth season as Head Indoor Trainer for women and fifth as Head Beach Trainer. Blessington started the OU’s volleyball program for men in 2015 and took her on two trips to the NAIA National Invitational Tournament. She also served as the conference’s commissioner in 2017-18 and was the NAIA’s national evaluator.
“I would like to thank Director Conner for my appointment to this position,” said Blessington. “It is an honor to represent OU because this is a very important time in women’s athletics. I think more than ever you are seeing institutions that are looking for women to shape the culture and that is very exciting for me think it speaks volumes about what the NAIA represents for this initiative, and I hope that in this role I can help inspire positive leadership and change across our campus. “
From 2015 to 2019 Blessington was the head coach of the MAVs Volleyball Club. She took her team to national championships every season, worked in camps, clinics, and other programs for the MAV’s volleyball program.
As a trainer at OU, she has led the Braves to four KCAC Regular Season Championships, five KCAC Tournament Championships, six NAIA National Tournament appearances, and five NAIA Final Site appearances. Blessington has trained nine NAIA All-Americans, 12 AVCA All-Region Selections, 42 All-KCAC Performers, two KCAC Player of the Year, five KCAC Setters of the Year, one KCAC Libero of the Year and one KCAC Freshman of the Year. She has also been voted KCAC Trainer of the Year four times.
Blessington earned her bachelor’s degree from Grand View University, a master’s in management from Durham University, and a master’s in health and human performance from Pittsburg State University.