Monday, January 17, 2022

Walsingham’s athletic director named ‘Athletic Administrator of the Year’

Neil Bailey, who has been at Walsingham Academy for 8 years, was named Virginia’s Independent Schools Athletic Administrator of the Year. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Andy Jackson, Savand Action Photography)

Neil Bailey, the athletic director at Walsingham Academy, has been named Virginia’s Independent Schools Athletic Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (VIAAA).

He was selected for the award at the annual meeting of the VIAAA’s Past Presidents’ Council in January.

This is Bailey’s eighth year as Walsingham’s athletic director.

“It’s great to be recognized for the work we’re doing. Everything we’ve done, we’ve done to put the kids health and safety and wellbeing first,” the Wakefield native said.

In a letter recommending Bailey for this award, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Director of Athletics, T.W. Johnson, wrote that Bailey “set the tone” regarding communication and collaboration for the good of the student-athletes during an unprecedented time, according to the Feb. 9 news release from Walsingham Academy.

During Bailey’s time at Walsingham Academy, the girls’ track and field team has won five state titles and the baseball team has won two state championships.

Bailey also introduced the “Under the Lights” game, expanded the school’s JJV programs, and created a modern refresh of the Trojan logo.

35 graduates have also gone on to play collegiately under Bailey’s leadership.

Normally, Bailey would be honored at the VIAAA’s conference and awards banquet in March, but the accomplishment will be celebrated on a later date.

Bailey is also the president of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools. He has had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Walsingham as well as the other 10 schools in the conference.

“The biggest challenge was just the lack of guidance from anywhere,” he said. “The public schools weren’t playing, but we were determined to play.”

At the end of the 2019-20 school year, the Walsingham Academy switched to virtual learning for its students.

The academy resumed in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year and resumed athletic and extracurricular activities, as well.

Currently, teams are not only battling COVID-19 restrictions for days to play, but weather conditions, as well. The basketball season for Walsingham was cut short due to a combination of the two.

As baseball season approaches, Bailey said he’s hoping the team will be able to play 20 games.

“All I’ve done, is done my job. Yes, I’m doing it in a tough time, but you find out what you’re made of when the going gets tough,” he said.

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