Pioneer Spotlight: Shannon James Ealy
When the 15th-ranked University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer football team takes the home field Saturday at 1 p.m. against George Fox, Shannon James Ealy will be there. Despite this being his first time in Pioneer Stadium as athletic director, Ealy is no stranger to Pioneer football. The all-conference selection graduated from UW-Platteville in 1991 and then served as assistant athletic director for two years. After a career that included stints at the University of Florida, the Southeastern Conference and an interim athletic director position at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Ealy was named UW-Platteville’s athletic director this summer.
Tomorrow marks your first time in Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium as athletic director. How is that experience going to be?
It’s going to be an awesome experience. It’s exciting but also a little bit weird being back in my hometown and alma mater after all this time. It’s still hard to believe. This will be my first time back in the stadium for a Pioneer football game in 23 years. I’m looking forward to that.
What are the emotions like being a former Pioneer football player?
I am filled with pride. My favorite memories are playing for Coach George Chryst, making long-time bonds with my teammates and the life lessons I took away. I want to ensure our student-athletes have the same kind of experiences I had. That is why we get in the business, to provide a first-class experience for the student-athletes and help them be successful both academically and competitively.
What can fans expect when they come to Pioneer games?
We want to provide a fun and entertaining game-day experience and a competitive product on the fields/courts. We are going to be service-oriented to ensure our fans have a great experience. We want the community to have pride and come out and support these amazing student-athletes. In return, our athletics programs are going to be good partners, and we are going to engage the campus and community through our student-athletes, coaches and staff being more visible and conducting community service initiatives.
You have been on the job for just over two months. How has it been going?
It’s been awesome. What I initially wanted to do is reengage with the university and the community, and meet as many people as I can. It has been very rewarding to reconnect with so many people I haven’t seen in over 20 years. I have been able to meet individually with each coach and staff member and have been getting to know my colleagues on the university’s leadership team. I have been doing a lot of listening, evaluating and goal setting.
What are your long-term goals for the athletic department?
The biggest thing is we’re implementing a culture of family and striving for excellence. We want to increase competitiveness in the WIAC and our national presence. We need to increase our revenues and resources to help with that. We are going to be successful in the classrooms. We will go about things the right way. There are no shortcuts to success. We are going to work hard, but also enjoy the journey and have fun on this ride we are about to take.
Interview by Paul Erickson, director, UW-Platteville Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.