Eastern Kentucky University recognized women who have impacted Colonel athletics throughout several different eras during the second annual Championing Women’s Athletics Luncheon presented by ERA Professional Hometown Services on Thursday, March 23.
Former student-athletes Niki Avery and Rachel Vick each spoke at the event. Former women’s basketball head coach Dr. M. Dianne Murphy was the keynote speaker and former women’s golf, tennis and track and field/cross country head coach Sandy Martin was this year’s honoree.
One of the most accomplished coaches in the rich history of Eastern Kentucky University athletics and the Ohio Valley Conference, Martin is the only coach in OVC history to win Coach of the Year awards in three different sports.
She served as head coach of four different sports at EKU during a 23-year span. Martin coached women's cross country, women's track and field, women's tennis and women's golf during different parts of the 1975-1998 seasons. She was named OVC Coach of the Year in three of these sports as she was recognized for track and field in 1979 and 1980, for tennis in 1992, and for golf in 1995 and 1996.
Martin taught lifetime sports skills and skill acquisitions in the physical education program. In 2013, she was inducted into the Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Murphy served as Eastern Kentucky’s women’s basketball coach from 1979 to 1986. She later presided over one of the most successful periods in Columbia University athletics history during her 11-year tenure (2004-2015) as athletics director. Murphy also spent six years as director of athletics and recreation at the University of Denver. From 1988 to 1995, she was the assistant athletics director at the University of Iowa, serving as the university’s lead administrator for external activities. Murphy began her athletics administrative career in 1987-88 as the assistant athletics director at Kentucky State University. From 1986 to 1988, she chaired the school’s Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and served as an associate professor.
Prior to becoming an athletics administrator, Murphy coached basketball for 13 years. She was the head women’s basketball coach at Shorter College (1973-76) and Florida State University (1976-79) before coming to EKU in 1979.
Vick was a four-year member of the volleyball team from 2012 to 2015 and is now pursuing a second degree from EKU, in occupational therapy. As a middle blocker, she finished her career with 1,101 kills. She concluded her career sixth in program history in hitting percentage and eighth in solo blocks.
Avery played on the women’s basketball team during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, and has since built a successful professional basketball career in Europe. On Dec. 30, 2007 against Pennsylvania, Avery knocked down a school record nine three-pointers, a mark that has yet to be surpassed.