Wellesley College Athletics mourns the passing of former athletic director and Wellesley Athletics Hall of Famer Louise O’Neal, who passed away on Sept. 17, 2022, in Plymouth, Mass. She was 83 years old.
As director of athletics and department chair from 1990 to 2006, Louise was instrumental in building Wellesley Athletics and turning it into what it is today. She oversaw enormous growth and success of the athletics programs and was responsible for the construction of a state-of-the-art outdoor fields complex and the addition of the sports of golf and softball. Wellesley made 16 NCAA Championship appearances during her tenure, with both the field hockey and volleyball teams advancing to the NCAA Division III Final Four.
Wellesley benefited from over a decade of Louise’s visionary leadership, but her influence extended far beyond the campus. A pioneer in women’s basketball, Louise coached nationally successful teams at Southern Connecticut State (SCSU) and Yale University. As a head coach at SCSU, she led her teams to a 144–37 record, with eight straight national championship appearances. At Yale, she served for three years as the assistant director of athletics and head women’s basketball coach. Her teams qualified for postseason play in each of her three seasons leading the program.
Louise’s last coaching role was as coach of the U.S. National Team, which won the gold medal at the 1979 International Tournament. In 1979, Louise moved to an administrative role as senior associate director of athletics at Dartmouth College. She continued at Dartmouth until she arrived at Wellesley in 1990. Louise was the leader of the Wellesley Athletic Department until she retired in 2006.
In 1988, Louise became the first person to be inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1994, Louise was named National Administrator of the Year by the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators, now Women Leaders in College Sports. A member of the SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame, Louise was also a recipient of the Women Leaders in College Sports Lifetime Achievement Award and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Jostens-Berenson Service Award for lifelong commitment and service to the game of women’s basketball.
In 2006, Louise was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2017 she was inducted into the national Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Louise was inducted into the Wellesley Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.