Walsingham Academy Athletic Director Neil Bailey has been named Virginia's Independent Schools Athletic Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA).
Bailey was selected at the annual meeting of the VIAAA's Past Presidents' Council.
Walsingham Academy President Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle credits Bailey with recognizing the important balance required at a college preparatory school.
"He will be the first to say that academics always come first, but he is passionate about helping to develop students fully, including athletically," Sister Mary Jeanne said. "His enthusiasm toward every aspect of the Academy is unwavering. We are truly blessed to have him."
Bailey, who is currently the President of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (TCIS), has had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Walsingham and the entire TCIS.
In a letter recommending Bailey for this award, T.W. Johnson, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Director of Athletics, wrote that Bailey "set the tone" regarding communication and collaboration for the good of the student-athletes during an unprecedented time.
During Coach Bailey's tenure, Walsingham's girls' track and field team has won five state titles and the baseball team has won two state championships. Other accomplishments include introducing the annual "Under the Lights" game, expanding the Academy's JJV programs, and a modern refresh of the Trojan logo. Further, 35 graduates have gone on to play collegiately during Bailey's time with Walsingham.
"This is a tremendous honor—one that I share with the entire Trojan community," Bailey said. "My position is all about giving our students the opportunity to learn, to grow, and see success from their effort. That can't happen without motivated student-athletes, a committed team of coaches, and devoted parents. I must also acknowledge Mike Brantley, our assistant athletic director, who has been with me at Walsingham from the jump and has been an extraordinary partner. It is truly a team effort."
Elizabeth Barry, Class of 2021 and member of the Varsity Girls' Tennis team, said representing the Trojans under Coach Bailey has been a "privilege."
"Coach Bailey's commitment to growing a strong and inclusive athletics program in a safe and healthy environment has allowed us the opportunity to compete under the toughest of times," Barry said. "We are thankful for his vision, dedication and leadership."
Before arriving at Walsingham in 2013, Bailey, a Virginia native, was the first-ever athletic director at East Georgia State University. While at EGSU, he also coached the head men's basketball team, leading them to a 31-3 overall record, a state championship, and a National Junior College Athletic Association Elite 8 appearance.
Under normal circumstances, Bailey would be honored at the VIAAA's conference and awards banquet in March. Instead, the accomplishment will be celebrated when it is again safe to do so.