Washington and Lee Director of Athletics Jan Hathorn has announced that Cinda Rankin, assistant athletic director and women's tennis coach, has decided to retire after nearly 40 years as an educator, administrator and coach.
"I look forward to beginning another phase of my life," said Rankin. "Washington and Lee University has been a wonderful experience and I have had the good fortune to work with the highest quality faculty, staff, and student-athletes during my 22 years at W&L. I appreciate that former Director of Athletics Mike Walsh allowed me the freedom to build the tennis program into one of the strongest in the nation. Our program has enjoyed the luxury of one of Division III's finest indoor facilities through the support of Richard Duchossois '44 and former President John Wilson and I feel certain that Washington and Lee tennis will continue to prosper. I wish the best of luck to all W&L teams in the future."
Rankin's legacy at Washington and Lee extends much further than a win-loss record as the University's tennis coach. She was hired in the spring of 1985 as W&L's first female athletic staff member and was charged with coordinating the University's women's athletic programs in tandem with the University's decision to coeducate in the fall of 1985. Rankin was responsible for recruiting the University's first female athletes and helped shape W&L's women's sports program into what it is today -- 11 varsity sports that include nearly 200 participants. W&L's women's sports programs won better than 75 percent of their games in 2006-07 and have claimed 66 conference championships over the past 22 years.
"Losing an educator and administrator of Cinda's caliber is a significant loss for our department, our university, and our profession," stated Hathorn. "Women's athletics at Washington and Lee saw immediate positive results because of Cinda's dedication, enthusiasm and energy. As a result, W&L enjoys a national reputation of quality, competitiveness and respect due, in large part, to Cinda's passion for the welfare of the student-athlete, her belief in doing things right, and her unqualified passion for the educational process. From day one, Cinda set the standard high and we owe her a great debt of gratitude for all of her hard work and leadership. You don't replace a person of Cinda's caliber -- you just hope to find someone who can carry on the legacy of quality that she instituted here. Cinda will be greatly missed."
Rankin added responsibilities as women's tennis coach in 1989, serving as co-head coach along with David McLeod '88, before taking over the reigns herself in 1990. During her 19 seasons, Rankin led the program to new heights, posting a 383-57 (.871) record and winning 17 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships. She was named the ODAC Coach of the Year 11 times and guided the Generals to 15 NCAA Tournaments, including 14 in a row from 1994-2007. A three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III Coach of the Year honoree, Rankin led W&L to the NCAA Semifinals each of her final six seasons and her teams played in the NCAA Championship match five times before winning the school's second national title (and first by a women's sport) this past spring.
In addition to team success, Rankin's student-athletes also achieved a great deal of individual success off the court. She coached 16 players to a total of 50 All-America citations, with two players garnering National Player of the Year honors. Two of her athletes, Erika Proko '03 and Lindsay Hagerman '05 were named finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year, while Hagerman and Katie Kingsbury '07 were named finalists for the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship. Hagerman finished as the runner-up in 2005, while Kingsbury won the scholarship this past spring.
Academic success and producing the well-rounded student-athlete were among Rankin's chief goals as a coach and educator. Her teams have consistently ranked among the best at W&L in team GPA and numerous individuals have been selected as ITA Academic All-Americans over the years. Tennis player Teresa Southard '90 became the school's first female valedictorian, while Patty Roberts '06 received the Coca-Cola Community All-America award for her work in the Lexington community. Rankin also encouraged and supported former tennis player Ingrid Easton '06, who gave up tennis to start the Campus Kitchen project at W&L.
"Cinda's legacy at Washington and Lee goes well beyond athletics," stated Washington and Lee President Ken Ruscio. "She is a true professional who came to the University at a critical time just as we were making the transition to coeducation. She not only witnessed the changes over the years; she significantly influenced the campus in many areas. Generations of students have benefited from knowing her and working with her."
A 1970 graduate of Humboldt State University, Rankin began her professional career by directing the physical education program and serving as the basketball, volleyball, tennis and track coach at El Cerrito (Calif.) High School for three years. She then moved across country to nearby Clifton Forge (Va.) High School in 1973, where she had a highly-successful four-year stint as girl’s basketball coach and director of physical education. Twice her teams finished as the state runner-up and she was named the Virginia Coach of the Year both of those seasons. She accepted a position as assistant professor of physical education at Dabney Lancaster Community College in June of 1978 and returned to her alma mater in 1982 as head women's basketball coach for three seasons.
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