By Amber Frias
Continuing the spirit of bringing alumni into the program, Pamela Donnelly returns to Cal Poly Pomona for her first season as assistant coach on the track and field team.
During her time as a Bronco, Donnelly set many CPP track and field records. The records included eighth in the 400 meter hurdles, seventh in the 4×10 relay, second in the 4×200 relay and fifth in the 800 meter Sprint Medley.
Donnelly graduated from CPP in 1988, majoring in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Track and field was a big part of her life during her time at CPP.
“It’s really rewarding for me just to be back where I learned so much and had so many great people around me to teach me new things,” said Donnelly.
“It’s great to be able to give that back. I think it’s important as an alumna to support the university that helped you get a degree.
“It was a great experience for me when I was in college, so it is very important for me to give back and help some other students and student athletes to be successful with their education and their athletic career.”
Head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett is very excited to have another alumnae on his coaching staff.
“It [was] clear from day one that she loves Cal Poly and she loves being back here,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “I think she really enjoys helping out and that really plays into her dedication to the program.”
He believes that having someone who has been in the place of the athlete can relate better to the athlete’s struggles. Donnelly adds that the communication between an athlete and a coach is better.
“It’s really important for them just knowing what you went through as a student athlete, being able to juggle athletics and academics and still having a social life,” said Donnelly. “It provides a better connection between a coach and an athlete because you’ve been there before.”
After graduation, Donnelly worked for Sara Lee Bakery for nine years. Donnelly then coached hurdles at South Hills High School for five seasons as the assistant coach. Donnelly continues to focus on hurdles at CPP.
“She’s a hard worker, she’s a task master,” said Gillespie-Bennett. “She gets things done, she doesn’t mess around.”
Donnelly is loved by all of the athletes on the team. She has good communication and relationships with the athletes.
“One of the most important accomplishments for me is the relationships that I build with the kids,” said Donnelly. “In addition to coaching them and teaching them new things, it’s the relationships that I’ve built with them and some of those relationships that are going to carry on to after their career.”
Jordon Morris, a decathlete on the team, says that Donnelly really cares about each of the athletes.
“Coach Donnelly helps us develop not just athletically, but as young men and women,” said Morris. “She focuses on valuable principles and bringing out the good in us. She does things the right way. That is what I respect most of her.”
Her coaching style, according to Morris, is different than the rest. She is more easy-going and easier to communicate with.
“She’s here every day ready to go to work, and she can provide an inside and outside perspective on what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Morris.
Within just one season, Donnelly has won the respect and admiration of the team.
“She’s an excellent coach, and we’re very happy to have her on the team,” said Gillespie-Bennett.
Zoran Liu-Moy / The Poly Post
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