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Punxsutawney Native, DCC Grad O’Connor Named Assistant AD/SWA at Ashland

ASHLAND, Ohio – Punxsutawney native and DuBois Central Catholic graduate Rachel O’Connor was recently named the Ashland University Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator.

(Photo courtesy of Ashland University Athletics)

“I’m pleased to announce that Rachel will become our senior woman administrator and assistant athletic director,” Ashland Athletic Director Al King said. “In her time at Ashland University, Rachel has demonstrated an exceptional work ethic and a hunger to learn as much as she can about all facets of athletics administration. She understands Ashland University and has always shown an incredible passion for this type of work and making life the best it can be for our student-athletes. Her presence is going to allow us to expand what this position can do.”
O’Connor, a 2008 DCC graduate, becomes the first full-time senior woman administrator in the history of the AU athletic department. She replaces former volleyball coach Cass Dixon, who stepped down from both roles last month.

“I’m grateful and honored to accept this role,” O’Connor said. “From the moment I started working at Ashland, it’s been a continuous education. I’ve enjoyed every minute of learning how to better serve the student-athletes and cannot wait to begin this new journey that allows me to do that daily.”

This is O’Connor’s sixth year at AU, serving as the director of marketing and promotions the last four years. Prior to that, she was the interim sports information director for a brief period after coming to Ashland in August 2012 as a sports information graduate assistant.

In her role, O’Connor has overseen the marketing and promotions for the entire department and is a primary figure in developing the digital presence for AU athletics, including and the department’s social media platforms. She has also been responsible for developing relationships with local and regional businesses in creating partnership opportunities.

She will continue as the adviser for the student-athlete advisory committee, a role she has served for three years.

As Ashland’s SWA, O’Connor will continue to be a key adviser to King and will serve as an advocate for issues relating to female and male student-athletes. She will also work on strategies to support and manage gender equity. O’Connor will also represent Ashland on the GLIAC Management Council.

“I’m excited and I’m thankful,” O’Connor said. “I’m excited to work more closely with our student-athletes, and I’m thankful for the opportunity Al King has presented me. The student-athletes here at AU are some of the most exceptional human beings I’ve ever met. Their pride and passion for this university and their sport makes it a pleasure to serve and support their growth and development. I’m thrilled for this opportunity.”

King believes O’Connor will bring new thoughts and ideas to her post.

“I welcome her perspective,” King said. “One of Rachel’s strengths is that she has a wide field of vision and she doesn’t get tied down by the methodology of the past. I’m excited to see her move into this role.”

O’Connor is a 2012 graduate of Mercyhurst (Pa.) University where she earned her degree in sports business management. While at Mercyhurst, O’Connor served internships and held staff positions with the Double-A Erie Seawolves – a Detroit Tigers minor league affiliate – and the Erie Bayhawks, then of the NBA D-League. She also was heavily involved in the sports information office and was the president of the sports business club.

While at DCC, O’Connor played basketball and worked in the DCC athletic department. Her father Tim is a long-time faculty member at DCC and officiates basketball and track and field meets in the District 9 area.

Ashland has one of the top NCAA Division II athletic programs in the nation and its women’s basketball team was the 2017 NCAA Division II champion and the 2018 NCAA Division II runner-up.

King has close ties to the area as well and is from Dayton, Pa. in Armstrong County. He was also the one-time Sports Information Director at IUP before moving to a similar role at Ashland before becoming the Athletic Director and was also a sports writer for the Indiana Gazette and the Meadville Tribune in the 1980s.