Former Olympian Brings Expertise to Pioneer Athletics

Amanda Zepeda

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Walking in the midst of students and staff at CSU East Bay is an accomplished woman who overcame gender barriers to become a world known athlete and Olympian.

Her name is Dawn Ellerbe.

Ellerbe, born on April 3, 1974 in Islip, New York, is the assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions at CSUEB, and has virtually created an improved and exciting experience for students, athletes and fans.

Before Ellerbe was providing an electric game-day atmosphere on campus, she was a national champion in track and field.

She is a six-time USA Indoor champion (1996-2001) and six-time USA Outdoors champion in the hammer throw (1995–2001). Ellerbe also claimed the gold medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. Then representing the United States in the 2000 Summer Olympics, Ellerbe finished in 7th place in the women’s hammer throw competition with a distance of 66.80 meters.

“Hammer throw found me,” said Ellerbe.

“Originally I started off with shotput and discus until my coach introduced me to hammer throw.”

Ellerbe was a four-time NCAA champion, six-time All-American and five-time Southeastern Conference champion while attending the University of South Carolina, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1996.

The USC graduate is also a member of the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame and is on the Board of Directors for the United Way of the Midlands in Columbia, South Carolina.

For this USA champion, the fame and recognition doesn’t stop there. Dawn Ellerbe was featured in national publications such as in the New York Times article, “Sports of The Times; At Sydney, the First Toss Goes to the Women” by George Vecsey, then again by CNN Sports Illustrated, “Ellerbe leads U.S. in debut of hammer throw.”

She was even featured in a fashion publication, which profiled her interest in “My Way: Dawn Ellerbe” in Skirt! Columbia. It is in this publication where Ellerbe states her five rules to living: love God, love yourself, make someone smile, balance time with yourself, family, friends and career responsibilities, and be great so they can’t ignore you.

The world-class, record-holding Olympic athlete for the hammer throw in track and field was named assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions for CSUEB in the fall of 2009.

In just her second year at CSUEB, Ellerbe has created a new and exciting fan experience for those in attendance at The Pioneer’s sporting events.

“My time here at East Bay has been great,” said Ellerbe.

“We’ve been able to do a lot more things here with a new an improved athletics online page and a new mascot, to just name a few things. I’m excited about my time here.”

Her charge is to increase awareness of the university’s athletics program and grow the fan base through expansion of their community engagement program and development of the game-day environment.

Previous to becoming a member of CSUEB Athletics, Ellerbe was the director of marketing events and public relations for South Carolina’s athletics department.

“Dawn Ellerbe brings a wealth of experience in creating an exciting and entertaining fan experience,” said CSUEB Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis.

Ellerbe perfected the art of using the strength of her body to throw the ball and chain and represent her country, while succeeding in a predominantly male sport.

“Working in athletics, I appreciate the term ‘female national champion’ more now than I did before,” said Ellerbe.

She overcame the gender barriers and has opened the door for many other female champions who came after her.

Ellerbe’s advice for athletes is to enjoy their time and feel accomplished, as they make up such a small portion of the population.

“There’s a quote that I keep in my office written by Ross Flowers,” said Ellerbe.

“It says, ‘The challenges that happen in sports parallel the challenges that athletes face in life.’ It’s a great reminder.”