It’s possible to be in search of key person, reach for help and end up realizing that the helper is the one you were looking for all along. Pencil in Olympian Dr. Rochelle Stevens as the “one” to revive the track and field program at LeMoyne-Owen College.
Stevens, a two-time Olympian (Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996), has been hired to coach the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track programs, which have been dormant since 1998. The announcement was made Thursday afternoon.
“As LeMoyne-Owen College works to enhance our academic and athletic programs, this is an awesome step,” said new LOC President Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs, who earlier secured NBA veteran Bonzi Wells to coach the men’s basketball team. Helping Wells is former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who won an NBA championship with Portland.
Charged with revitalizing LOC’s track and field program, Athletic Director William Anderson said, “Rochelle made it easy. She has a dynamic personality. I reached out to Rochelle initially to pick her brain to see what direction she could put me in. Through those conversations it was quite evident that she was the right person for the position. …”
The track programs are set to be back in motion for 2022.
A state champion at Melrose High School, Stevens earned All-American status 11 times at Morgan State University in Maryland. For nearly 30 years, she annually has hosted a Rochelle Stevens track event for regional track aspirants, with 30,000-plus participants during that span.
Elated to have been selected by Anderson and honored to be working with Dr. Bennett-Fairs, Stevens said, “I am looking forward to shaping and molding our student-athletes.”
This is the first college-level coaching job for Stevens, who said she will have to get used to being called coach.
“I am so excited to be able to give back to the community on a larger scale. We have an opportunity to offer 30 scholarships to the men’s and women’s programs. I am looking for the diamond in the rough for LeMoyne-Owen College.”
Memphis has a lot of talent, said Stevens, who was trained and coached by her mother, Apostle Beatrice Hollowell-Davis.
“That (the local talent) was one of the reasons I had my track meet, so we could expose the talent. A lot of times they don’t receive those D1 (division one) scholarships because their times are not as fast. (They) would be a perfect fit for our program. I definitely have a relationship with so many athletes and I have vision to see (the) skill set that they have.”
Through her foundation, Stevens has awarded numerous scholarships while also serving the community in various other ways.