Charlotte, NC - Johnson & Wales University Charlotte Director of Athletics and Clifton Forge, VA native Trudi Lacey was recently recognized as a "Hometown Hero" by the town of Clifton Forge. The ceremony was held at the town courthouse on Saturday, August 10, a day now declared to be "Trudi Lacey Day" by Mayor Jeff Irvine. Lacey was also presented with a "key to the town" during the ceremony. Vice Mayor Pam Marshall commented, "We like to take some time whenever we can to honor those who become successful in their chosen profession." Lacey remarked, "I am grateful for the opportunity to be named Clifton Forge Hometown Hero and to share this celebration with family and friends."
Lacey enters her fourth year as Director of Athletics for the Wildcats, a time of unprecedented success. The Athletic Department has seen a meteoric rise on the national scene in the last three years, becoming a perennial contender in all sports within the USCAA. In a short three-year window, JWU has won two national championships, despite currently having only five athletic programs. Women's basketball claimed the campus's first national title in 2017-2018 and the volleyball team followed up with one of their own in the 2018-2019 school year. Additionally, the men's basketball and men's soccer teams both finished as national runners-up in the 2018-2019. Women's basketball also made a return trip to the national final four with a semifinal appearance in 2018-2019. In total, nine Wildcat programs have made national tournament appearances in the last three years, and four of the five varsity sports have made multiple postseason trips in that span.
The program success and culture of excellence has also resulted in many individual accolades and acknowledgement. JWU has produced 28 USCAA All-Americans, recognized for their prowess in the athletic arena during the last three years. Furthermore, the student-athlete population continues to thrive academically, resulting in 37 National All-Academic Team selections in that span. The NCCSIA, an organization composed of the collegiate sports information directors of North Carolina, has recognized 16 Wildcats as All-State among all divisions of NCAA, NAIA, USCAA, and NCCAA colleges and universities located in the state. JWU also boasts the 2017-2018 Women's Basketball National Coach of the Year, the 2017-2018 Men's Soccer National Player of the Year, and the 2017-2018 Women's Soccer National Student-Athlete of the Year.
Lacey's accolades include being inducted into both the North Carolina State University Hall of Fame and the Clifton Forge High School Hall of Fame. A transcendent player at NC State, she was the first African-American woman to earn a full four year basketball scholarship in school history. While there, she was an All-American and a four-time ALL-ACC player. She would later be named to the ACC All-Legend team in 2007. As a coach, she served at three different NCAA Division 1 institutes: Francis Marion University, University of South Florida, and the University of Maryland. She would then move on to the WNBA as both an assistant and then head coach of the Charlotte Sting, and later as General Manager of the Washington Mystics. In addition, Lacey served as the Assistant Director for USA Women's Basketball from 1997-2001, helping Team USA earn gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.