Jennifer Poff Cooper
Greig Denny is just naturally attracted to sports. He grew up around sports, played high school sports, coached high school sports, and then moved into sports management at the college level.
“I enjoy being around others interested in the same thing,” Denny said.
Denny hails from Adams, New York, about an hour away from the Canadian border.
He did his undergraduate work at State University of New York at Cortland, after which he taught and coached in high school in Newark, New York, for three years. He decided to come south to obtain his master’s in Physical Education specializing in athletic administration from Virginia Tech, and he has never left the area.
He started his collegiate career at Radford University. There he held various positions in the athletic department, plus was an adjunct instructor, as he worked his way up to Athletic Director. Denny led the Division I RU athletics program, which consisted of 19 intercollegiate sports teams, for 11 years.
Early on, RU was laying the foundation for a baseball program. Denny had coached high school baseball and willingly took on the extra duty of getting the Highlander’s new program up and running. At times, he said, things were so sparse that they would lay out bases at Belle Heth Elementary school for practices and play games at a local park.
While at RU, Denny achieved several professional appointments. He represented Radford University on multiple NCAA planning committees, and he was the Chair of the Big South Conference Council of Athletic Directors.
When the new president of Radford University, Penelope Kyle, was hired in 2007, she brought in her own team and Denny’s contract was not renewed. Denny wanted to stay in the area, as did his wife, who has her own career, and their kids, who were settled in school in Radford. So, when a position at Virginia Tech opened up it “worked out very well,” he said.
Since 2008 Denny has been the Director of the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center and Rector Fieldhouse at Virginia Tech. His duties encompass planning, oversight, and management. That includes day-to-day operations, scheduling teams for practice, and making sure things are set up.
The biggest challenge, said Denny, is “keeping all the balls in the air at one time.” He is working two facilities; multi-tasking personnel, scheduling, and maintenance; and resolving conflicts as they occur. “It takes flexibility to make everything run smoothly,” he said.
However, Denny said, “I have very good people I work with and for, and that makes it much easier.”
Denny feels like his communication skills make him a good fit for the job. A lot of these responsibilities could be done by anyone, he said, but it is social skills that come in handiest. The tennis center, for example, is not only used by the Tech teams but also by 250-300 members of the school and community. Keeping all of the different constituencies and stakeholders happy at both the tennis center and the field house is key.
One of his favorite parts of the job, Denny said, is the opportunity to watch elite athletes. He explained that these collegiate athletes are the top non-professionals in the world, one step away from the pros. One of Tech’s former tennis player is playing professional tennis on Portugal now, for example. In track and field, Denny gets to watch current and potential Olympians perform. To see people at that ability level is special, he said.
Throughout his career, in which he has accrued 23 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics administration, Denny said “relationships – the vast majority of which have been very good – have been the most important thing.”