Interim Director of Athletics, Colleen Cashman, has one hope for the students of SUNY Broome. “I just want our students to have a college experience that is as wonderful as the experience that I had when I was a student at SUNY Broome. Some of the happiest memories of my life are on this campus,” said Cashman.
A native of Chenango Valley, NY, Cashman got her first taste of athletics from playing outside with her brothers and neighbors. “I wasn’t just a natural athlete. I really loved playing and gravitated towards any activity that kept me moving, active, and competitive,” shared Cashman.
Though Cashman was not from a particularly athletic family, her parents always encouraged her to participate. “When I was about 8, my mom stepped in to be my first softball coach. Then softball led into other sports and eventually to volleyball.”
In middle and high school, Cashman discovered that her true sport of passion was volleyball and played competitively throughout her Chenango Valley career. Playing competitive collegiate volleyball was a major factor behind Cashman’s decision to enroll at SUNY Broome after graduating from high school.
Her volleyball career at SUNY Broome was incredibly successful, as she and her team won the 1983 Region 3 Championship for the first time in the school’s history. This win allowed SUNY Broome to attend the Division III NJCAA National Tournament in Catonsville, MD.
After graduating from SUNY Broome in 1985 with a degree in business administration, she began working in the area as an office manager. To add a little more fun to her day job, she began officiating through the Southern Tier Volleyball Organization, as a way to stay connected to the local volleyball community. It was while she was working full time and officiating on the side, that she saw an advertisement for an assistant women’s volleyball coach at Binghamton University. When she met with the Women’s Athletic Director, she was told that they could only offer her $400.00.
“Accepting this position wasn’t about the money. It was about taking advantage of an opportunity to make me even more connected to the world of collegiate volleyball and collegiate athletics, and about giving back to the sport that I loved,” said Cashman.
While working full-time as a bookkeeper, as well as in sales and marketing for a local manufacturing company, Cashman realized from her experiences as an assistant coach that her passion was coaching collegiate volleyball and making an impact on the lives of young women on and off the court. But when discussions swirled about a potential vacancy in the head coach position, Cashman found herself in a tricky situation. She was qualified from the coaching and volleyball perspectives, but head coaches at Binghamton University needed to minimally have a bachelor’s degree. Colleen didn’t hesitate to enroll at Binghamton University and began working towards a degree in English. Even though it had been almost a decade since her time at SUNY Broome, Cashman still had two years left of athletic eligibility under NCAA regulations.
“I still felt like I could compete, so I made the transition from being “Cash,” the assistant coach, to “Cash,” a member of the women’s volleyball team. It was a bit rocky at the start, but once I made the conscious decision to stop coaching from the court and just be a fellow teammate and friend, everything changed for the better. I was 10+ years older than my teammates, but that didn’t make a difference. I really made the effort to participate in as many of the team’s activities, dinners, and social events as I could, to build and maintain our camaraderie and family dynamic. I was a student athlete, just like everyone else,” explained Cashman.
After two years, Cashman had officially earned her degree and secured her eligibility to eventually transition into the role of head coach. She remained in that role for three years and led the team to their second NCAA Division III Tournament berth in 1997. The following year, the team advanced to the semi-finals of the NECC tournament.
It was while she was head coach, in 1998, when Binghamton University transitioned from NCAA Division 3 women’s volleyball to Division 2. “The switch to Division 2 solidified that I was made for Division 3. Division 3 is the perfect balance of participating in collegiate athletics for enrichment, encouragement, and competitiveness – but first and foremost, D3 student athletes are students first, athletes second,” explained Cashman.
Cashman found her ideal Division 3 women’s volleyball fit at SUNY Oneonta, where she served as the women’s volleyball head coach for 17 years. In addition to serving as head coach, Cashman had many additional roles on campus – roles that she feels collectively prepared her to be an Athletic Director.
“I did just about everything at SUNY Oneonta while I was head coach. I was the Director of the Fitness Center, a Student Athlete Advisor, an NCAA CHAMPS Lifeskills Coordinator, and a Lecturer in the Department of Health and Fitness. Once I retired from athletics, I stayed at SUNY Oneonta as an Access to College Excellence (ACE) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Counselor. I really love working with students,” said Cashman.
In her role of Interim Athletic Director, Cashman has very specific goals to revamp SUNY Broome’s athletic programs. “We have a great logo, a great mascot, and great athletes… So now it’s time to bring the campus together via the communal goal of supporting our student athletes. A solid athletic program builds a campus atmosphere of camaraderie and pride. I would like our student athletes to feel like participating in a team at SUNY Broome is a highlight of their education. When I was a student here, my team was my SUNY Broome family. As a graduate, I came back because my years here as a student were truly a transformative experience for me. I just want to duplicate that for our current students,” Cashman reflected.
Cashman is not discouraged by the “Interim” before her title. “All of my major professional positions have started as either interim or temporary. I like that there is an opportunity to showcase my professional value and have a goal to work towards.”
Cashman, her wife Nicole and twin daughters, Olivia and Gabrielle had already made the decision to relocate back to the Chenango Valley School District when the opportunity arose to interview for the Director of Athletics position. “I’m just super excited to be here on campus, back where it all started for me academically to make a positive impact on the students and student-athletes! Does it get any better than this?!”
If you have been inspired by Colleen Cashman’s story and want to be a Hornet, don’t hesitate! SUNY Broome offers a wide variety of athletic programs including basketball, volleyball, soccer, esports, and more! Learn more about athletics at SUNY Broome!