Renn Reserve and Pond

Share this Story

An area at the outdoor athletic complex has been named in athletic director's honor

Featured News | June 6, 2018

As Virginia Wesleyan University’s Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Joanne Renn, retires after 11 years as athletics director and 25 years total with the Marlins, President Scott D. Miller announced that an area on campus will be named in her honor.

 “The grassy plains and pond area at the outdoor athletic complex has been named in Joanne's honor as "Renn Reserve and Pond," declared Miller at the celebration event held for Renn on May 7.  “We wish Joanne the best in retirement and hope she returns to campus often to cheer on her Marlins!”

Renn was also presented with several tokens of appreciation at the event—a plaque honoring her with the distinction of Athletics Director Emeritus, a resolution from the VWU Board of Trustees recognizing her 25 years of service, and a traditional Virginia Wesleyan commemorative chair.

Miller detailed Renn’s role in the implementation of several important initiatives during his early tenure at the University, and expressed gratitude for her active leadership in expansion and improvement of the institution’s athletic facilities. All made possible with her assistance, he said, are Birdsong Field, the Betty S. Rogers Track and Field Center, development of the outdoor athletic complex, upgrades and naming of Kenneth R. Perry Field, a new East Gate campus entrance and the adjoining Marlin Way, and the forthcoming TowneBank Park and Broyles Field. Renn was also was instrumental in the initiation of men’s and women’s swimming, a relationship with Harlaxton College of England, and establishment of the Batten Honors College.

Virginia Wesleyan’s athletic program has seen many successes under Renn’s leadership. During her tenure, the men's basketball team won the NCAA Division III National Championship in 2006 and the following year returned to the championship game; the women's soccer team made it to the final four in 2006 after winning the ODAC tournament for the first time in program history; Evan Cox was the Individual NCAA National Champion for men's golf in 2016; the Virginia Wesleyan softball team won the NCAA Division III National Championship in 2017 with a national record 54 wins and repeated this accomplishment in 2018 with a record-breaking 55 wins; and senior Marissa Coombs is a four-time All-American in cross country and track and field.

Renn has held a variety of positions, including president of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. She has served on numerous state and national committees, including service with the NCAA, the Board of Directors of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Hampton Roads Hall of Fame Committee, the Virginia Beach Sports Grant Committee, and the Hampton Roads Sports Facility Authority. She was instrumental in securing VWU bids to host NCAA tournament games in women’s basketball and field hockey, and she has served as tournament director for countless post-season events.

At the time of her appointment in 2007, Renn was the first female athletic director at a co-educational institution in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). 2018 marked her 25th year as a coach and administrator at VWU. She oversaw 22 intercollegiate sports programs and a staff of more than 55 coaches, administrators, and support personnel. She was the ranking female administrator at the University and served on the President’s Cabinet.

Renn began her career at VWU as the head women's tennis coach in 1995, a position she held through 1999. She also served VWU as the head women's basketball coach from 1997 through 2003. She is a former teacher and head girls' basketball coach at Norfolk Academy, where her teams compiled a 250-128 record and won two conference championships and two tournament titles. At Norfolk Academy, she was the former girls' tennis coach where she led her teams to a 107-10 dual-match record and seven consecutive Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools championships.

She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Old Dominion University, where she was one of six original female athletic scholarship recipients, competing in basketball and tennis. She received her master's degree in human resource management from Troy University. She is an accomplished wood-wind musician, an avid hiker and climber who has ascended 48 North American peaks, including Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, and the highest point in the USA, Mount Whitney; she has backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and the Colorado Trail; and she completed her trek through the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in northwestern Spain in June 2013. She hiked the Camino del Norte in the summer of 2015 and England's Coast to Coast in 2016, and she attended the Harlaxton Summer Conference in Grantham, England, in the summer of 2016.

Tina Hill, athletic director at Randolph College for the past 10 years, will assume Renn's role at Virginia Wesleyan on July 1.