Patriot League's most decorated: Former athlete Vicky Chun remains a leader at Colgate
Chun was named Colgate’s director of athletics on Jan. 1, 2013, the latest step in her involvement at the school and in the Patriot League. She started off as a star volleyball player for the Raiders who competed in the first two seasons of Patriot League action in 1990-91, would go on to lead the team to two Patriot League titles in her three years as head coach from 1994-96 and returned to the school in an administrative role in 2005 that would lead to her appointment as Director of Athletics.
It was a pretty amazing journey to Hamilton, N.Y., for someone who was born on New Year’s Day in 1969 in Santa Monica, Calif. Vicky’s mother, Susan Chan Chun, swam across Hong Kong Harbor at the age of 13. Her father, Victor Chun, played varsity soccer at Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute and is the author of “American PT Boats of World War II, Volume I” and “American PT Boats of World War II, Volume II.”
Luckily for Colgate, Vicky wanted to go back east for her collegiate experience.
“I knew that I wanted to follow in my cousin Joyce’s footsteps (who attended Wellesley) and play Division I volleyball at an elite academic institution,” Chun said. “Colgate fit all of those things, and I decided that Colgate was the place for me after my on campus recruiting visit.”
Chun was named to the Patriot League 25th Anniversary Volleyball Team for her success as a student-athlete at Colgate. She ranks fifth in school history for career assists with 2,440, and was selected to the All-Patriot League Team in the league’s first two seasons in addition to leading Colgate to the League title in 1990 and winning the Player of the Year award in 1991.
“We were the underdogs — Army was the favored team by far,” Chun said of Colgate’s Patriot League title in 1990. “They had nicer uniforms, they installed the 1984 Olympics volleyball court to practice and play on. Prior to the Patriot League we didn’t have a conference and were limited to tournaments so this was the first opportunity for us to win a conference championship.”
Chun also helped Colgate to an appearance in the league title game in 1991, and came back two years later to serve as an assistant coach at the school in 1993. Chun was named head coach the next season as she took Colgate to another League title-game appearance, and she would lead the Raiders to the Patriot League title in both 1995 and 1996, with the Coach of the Year award in the latter season.
“Winning the Patriot League championship in 1995 was my most memorable moment as head coach. Years prior, we would be in the championship match but couldn’t close so I was so proud of our players when they pulled it out in front of a very loud Bucknell crowd. On the day of the championship, we pulled into Colgate late that evening and I took our assistant coaches and the trophy to the only place that was still open. All of a sudden the whole team showed up and lifted me and the trophy above their heads. I’ll never forget how grateful I was to them for their hard work …and for not dropping me!”
The Raiders finished with three Patriot League titles and two other appearances in the championship in Chun’s five seasons as either a student-athlete or head coach. But ultimately coaching would not be her long-term path, and Chun left Colgate for her next two experiences in the working world. She did an administrative internship at the NCAA national office from 1997-00, and worked as commissioner of the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association from 2001-05.
“Those experiences opened me up to intercollegiate athletics at a national and conference scale. I knew at that time, I wanted to pursue a career in athletic administration, therefore, I was able to work in all aspects of sport at the NCAA … from drug testing to compliance to championships, and more. Most importantly, those two experiences enabled me to meet a lot of people in intercollegiate athletes — which developed into close friendships — which is much needed in this profession.”
But it wasn’t long before Chun was back at Colgate. She came back as an interim assistant director of athletics in 2005, earned the full-time position the next year and was then promoted to associate director of athletics in 2007 with an added title of senior woman administrator the following year. Chun was selected as the National Administrator of the Year (FCS Division) by NACWAA in 2010, and in June 2011 she received the prestigious Maroon Citation, established in 1955 in recognition of significant and invaluable personal contributions to Colgate. A record of service, rather than a single act or achievement, is the criteria for selection.
“I often joke that I’m a bad penny which turns up when you least expect it. I never thought I would be back at Colgate after graduation, after I was an assistant coach, after I was an assistant AD, Associate AD, etc. Whenever I was ready to leave the nest, an unexpected opportunity would come to me at Colgate…and I am very grateful for that. Colgate is a very special place and I love working here for the same reasons when I was a student-athlete — beautiful campus, in a gorgeous setting, with an elite academic reputation and a highly-competitive Division I athletics program.”
Chun’s contributions as vice president and director of athletics at Colgate have been invaluable in both the athletic and academic areas. She has led Colgate to the Patriot League title in three different sports while the school’s men’s hockey team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Colgate’s student-athletes have excelled in the classroom with a 98 percent graduation rate, which ranks third in the nation, and the majority of teams came in with a perfect graduation rate in the most recent data from the NCAA. Colgate has also approved facility upgrades under Chun’s leadership, including a new arena for the school’s ice hockey teams as well as Beyer-Small ’76 Field, a state-of-the-art soccer facility with a FIFA 2-star certified FieldTurf.
Under Chun’s leadership, Colgate student-athletes have raised significant money toward various not-for-profit organizations (Play for Kay, Alzheimer's Awareness, ALS, Autism Awareness and the Cure for Ependymoma).
“Our primary focus is giving our student-athletes everything they need to succeed in the classroom, competition space and in life. I am proud to say that the philanthropy work is initiated by our student-athletes. They understand that not everything is about them and they can make a difference in the bigger picture of things. We have been very proactive in regard to health and safety for our student-athletes and it has been terrific working with our coaches and staff.”
Chun is the only female athletics director in the Patriot League. Among 345 Division I institutions, she is one of 29 women and one of eight minority women actively leading an NCAA Division I athletics department (as of the 2014-15 season). She does not take her role as a female and minority leader lightly.
“It’s something I am very proud of and gives me the ability to look at things from a different perspective. I have always received a lot of support from my bosses and colleagues throughout my career which, without their help and mentorship, I would never be where I am today. I also know that I carry a responsibility to always be on my “A” game as I’m representing more than Vicky Chun and I have always taken that responsibility incredibly seriously.”
Through her time at Colgate as a student-athlete, coach and now athletic director, Chun has always been an exemplary representative for the Patriot League. She represents the league on the NCAA Division I Council, and also serves on the Division I Football Oversight Committee.
“It’s a true honor as the Patriot League is a conference that really does put student-athlete academic and athletic excellence as its highest priority. Every meeting we have as Patriot League administrators revolve around a positive student-athlete experience — championships, legislation, financial allocation, and more. As we enter into the first year of new NCAA governance, I have realized how much the Patriot League stands out for the better, and I hope to do my very best to make sure our voice is heard.”
Above: Vicky Chun, with Whoopi Goldberg, is an administrative leader at Colgate as vice president and director of athletics. (Photo courtesy of Colgate Athletics)
Middle: She led Colgate to the Patriot League title in 1990 and won the Player of the Year award in 1991. (Photo courtesy of Patriot League Communications)