CLEVELAND -- Bridget Belgiovine, Wellesley College Director of Athletics and Chair of the Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA) Department has been named the 2019 recipient of the NADIIIAA Richard A. Rasmussen Lifetime Achievement Award. Belgiovine will receive the award next week at the NADIIIAA Summer Forum at the World Center Marriott Resort.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for University Athletic Association Executive Director and NADIIIAA founder, Dick Rasmussen, and is presented to athletic administrators who have dedicated their professional career to the advancement of Division III. This is the highest award given by NADIIIAA to individuals who best exemplify the leadership and service that has made a significant impact on DIII as demonstrated by Rasmussen during his tenure as an athletic administrator.
An energetic leader focused on the impact of sports and fitness, Belgiovine has impacted the lives of many students, coaches and administrators with her commitment to excellence on the field of competition and within the classroom. Belgiovine has served as Director of Athletics and Chair of the PERA Department at Wellesley College since 2006, overseeing all facets of a department that also includes a PE curriculum serving nearly 2,000 students each year, and a recreation program with events ranging from Dorm and Class Crew, to aerobics and Pilates classes, to fun runs. She has worked tirelessly to integrate the department and its programs more fully into the life of the college, stressing the importance of fitness and health in a strong liberal arts education. She announced her retirement earlier this year.
During Belgiovine's tenure at Wellesley, two Blue athletes have won NCAA Individual National Championships and the Blue have also claimed their first team NCAA National Championship (Crew in 2016). In addition, Wellesley teams have earned 18 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships and made a combined 28 team appearances in the NCAA Tournament. In 2013-14, the Blue captured their first NEWMAC President's Cup, an all-sports award presented to the top overall men's and women's programs in the conference. That year, ten Wellesley teams participated in NEWMAC post-season play, as crew, field hockey and softball went on to win conference championships. Four student-athletes earned conference athlete of the year honors and three coaches earned coach of the year honors.
Belgiovine was formerly the Director of Division III at the NCAA with responsibilities that included coordination and support for the Division III governance structure. In that role, she was instrumental in the governance of Division III collegiate athletics and earned a national reputation as a visionary, energetic, and effective leader. Prior to the NCAA, she served as Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an NCAA Division III institution offering 19 intercollegiate athletic sports. During her tenure at UW-LaCrosse, the department was recognized five times as the conference program with the highest grade point average and four times as the All-Sports recipient for the most successful athletics program. From 1991-1997, UW-La Crosse won a combined 14 National Championships and 34 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championships under Belgiovine's leadership. In 2014, Belgiovine was awarded the Donald Gordon Merit Award in recognition of her long-time support of Athletics at UW-La Crosse. Her support of the Eagles was also previously honored with the establishment of an endowed Belgiovine Scholarship to support female graduate students in sports administration.
Nationally, Belgiovine's contributions include service as a former president of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA), a board member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and service in the NCAA structure. She held positions as vice-president for Division III, chair of the Division III Management Council, a member of the Executive Committee, Joint Policy Board, Administrative Committee and several Division III and Association-wide committees.
A collegiate lacrosse player at Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey), Belgiovine's rise in collegiate administration began at Springfield College where she served as Assistant Professor, Field Hockey Coach, Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. Belgiovine holds a BS from Trenton State College in Health and Physical Education, and a Masters degree in Physical Education and Athletic Administration from Springfield College. Her experience includes teaching, coaching, and athletics administration at the junior/senior high school and collegiate levels, coaching basketball and field hockey at both levels and serving as an athletic administrator at the collegiate level.
NADIIIAA is comprised of athletics administrators from over 350 institutions and conferences competing at the NCAA Division III level. The Association encourages the continued development of athletics programs focused on the student-athlete and based on sound educational principles and the Division III philosophy. NADIIIAA is administered by NACDA, which is in its 54th year.