by Tom Utescher
With the resignation of the last official “Springside School” athletic director late in the spring, the new Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had to act quickly to fill the vacancy.
The school surprised many people with what was undoubtedly a hiring coup, announcing that longtime Academy of Notre Dame A.D. Tina O’Malley would be crossing the Schuylkill to become the Director of Athletics for Girls at Springside CHA.
O’Malley presided over a highly successful sports program at Notre Dame. The Irish have always been a basketball power within the Girls Inter-Ac League, and during the 2010-2011 academic year the school won Inter-Ac championships in cross country, field hockey, golf, and track and field.
“A lot of it was timing; I think I was ready for a change,” said the new arrival. “I wasn’t actively looking for a new position, but someone at Springside asked me if it was something I might consider, and asked me to just hear what the people at the school had to say. I had a great meeting with Priscilla Sands (the Head of School), and with Mike DelGrande (the former Chestnut Hill Academy A.D. who will now be the head athletic administrator at both schools).
“Notre Dame is a great school,” she continued. “The kids are wonderful and the teams do very well. The opportunity for new challenges appealed to me, though, and I felt that it was an exciting time to come here and
get in on the ground floor of this merger between Springside and CHA.”
Before heading up the athletic department at Notre Dame, O’Malley had been a teacher and coach in the Philadelphia school system for many years. She actually embarked on that career at a Northwest Philly institution, the Ada H. Lewis Middle School (now designated “Junior High”) at Ardleigh and Tulpehocken Sts.
“I always liked this area, and a lot of my friends at Ada Lewis lived in Mount Airy,” she related.
O’Malley grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, attending Little Flower Catholic High School and going on to join the track team at Temple University, where she graduated in 1975. A high jump specialist in college, she had also been a swimmer during her high school years.
She would coach both sports when she went to work in the Philadelphia public school system as a health and physical education teacher (her area of concentration at Temple).
Briefly, she was also a swimming instructor at the Baldwin School, a member of the Girls Inter-Ac League.
After teaching for 10 years, she took the next decade off to raise her two daughters, who went on to become accomplished athletes at Notre Dame.
O’Malley returned to teach in Philly for another seven years, but also began to do some coaching at Notre Dame. A position on the faculty opened up at the Villanova school in the summer of 2000, and she started there on a full-time basis, becoming the A.D. four years later.
One of the adjustments O’Malley will have to make coming from Notre Dame is coping with the fact that the Lions’ sports teams draw upon a significantly smaller pool of girls. She noted that the number of girls playing fall sports at Notre Dame is equivalent to the entire female enrollment in the upper school at Springside CHA.
“With the smaller student body here, I know that a lot of kids are multi-sport athletes,” the new A.D. observed. “There are also athletic and activity requirements that we didn’t have at Notre Dame.”
There are no immediate changes on the horizon for the Springside athletic program, she said.
“I need to learn the lay of the land, get to know the school, the kids, and the coaches,” O’Malley explained. “The facilities are great, and the administration is supportive. Talking with Priscilla, you can tell that she’s very enthusiastic about the sports teams and wants them to do well. It seems to be a great administration to work with.”