The Big South announced Wednesday that two former Chanticleers have been chosen for induction into the conference's hall of fame, and it couldn't be a more fitting combo.
Longtime Coastal Carolina women’s track & field and cross country coach Alan Connie and his most accomplished former athlete, two-time Olympian Amber Campbell, will officially be inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame on June 2 at the Marriott Resort in Hilton Head Island.
“Obviously it’s a great honor,” Connie said. “When I got that call from the commissioner I looked at the Big South website and I think there are only like 10 coaches out of all the years of the Big South that are in the Hall of Fame, so it is a great honor. I’m really happy that I’ll be going in with Amber Campbell, who is about as deserving to get in as anybody I could have imagined.”
Said Campbell: “It’s always really humbling and awesome to be honored for all of my hard work, and to be able to go in with Coach Connie is pretty special. He holds a special place in my heart, so I’m excited.”
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Connie and Campbell are part of a four-person induction class along with former UNC Asheville women's basketball player Vicki Giffin and former Liberty women’s basketball player Katie Feenstra, that will bring the Big South Conference Hall of Fame to 61 members.
It’s always really humbling and awesome to be honored for all of my hard work, and to be able to go in with Coach Connie is pretty special. He holds a special place in my heart, so I’m excited.
Former CCU track and field standout Amber Campbell on being inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame
Connie, who started at Coastal Carolina in 1986, retired after the 2013-14 athletic year after winning 28 championships between cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field and earning 33 Big South Coach of the Year honors.
“Interestingly and fittingly, it’s kind of the last meeting of Coastal Carolina and the Big South when they have this banquet on June 2,” said Connie, referring to the Chants’ upcoming move to the Sun Belt Conference. “Having started my coaching career in 1986, which was the first year that the Big South was really functioning as a full Division I athletic conference, I’ve seen the whole thing, the history of the Big South. Certainly in track & field and cross country, but I was able to witness in baseball and basketball and all the sports as a big supporter of our whole athletic program. It’s been a big part of my life. I’m really honored to go in.”
While he’s retired from coaching, he hasn’t been far from campus. Named Head Coach Emeritus, he still interacts with the program when he can and remains a big supporter of the other teams around campus.
“I’ve been to more [Coastal Carolina] baseball games than I have been able to [attend] my whole 28-year career so that’s been nice,” he said. “That’s been very enjoyable. And I’ve gotten to talk to some coaches and athletes around the country at different programs. I’m still passionate about our sport of track & field and cross country – I’m just able to help out in a different way.”
Campbell, meanwhile, is a former 16-time Big South champion and five-time All-American and was voted the Big South’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2000-01 and 2002-03 while becoming the first two-time recipient of that award.
She has continued competing on the international stage. In fact, Connie was with her Beijing, China, last summer for the IAAF World Championships, and she is now eying her third Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a competitor in the hammer throw.
“It’s full blast. Seven days a week, we literally have something going every day,” she said of her training. “And I think that’s what it’s going to take to get to that next, next level.”
That next level for her is reaching the podium at the Olympics. Campbell said she’s matched her personal best already this year and believes she can push further.
The next step is the Olympic Trials in July, where she’ll need a top-three finish to earn her spot on the team.
“If all goes well, I’ll be throwing further than ever,” she said.