Shay Steele wants to be WHHS’ next head athletic director


Photo Courtesy of: WHHS Athletic Department

Shay Steele is a 2010 WHHS graduate, who is now an assistant athletic director. Steele has applied to be the next head AD, and hopes to build off of the momentum the athletic department has gained.

Shay Steele, currently the assistant athletic director, will be interviewing for the position of head athletic director at WHHS on Apr. 7. Current head athletic director, Steve Ellison, has stepped down from his position and will be leaving WHHS at the end of this school year.

Steele has been a member of the WHHS community since she started attending high school here in 2006, and after graduating from Akron University in 2015, returned to her alma mater to pursue a career in athletics six years ago.

“I just feel like it’s the natural next step [for me to become the next head AD],” Steele said.

Steele has support from many community members for this next step in her career, and the Nuthouse has even created a campaign, #SteeleForAD, to support her candidacy.

“We need more women in the athletics field,” Megan Davidson, assistant softball coach, said. “Shay is the perfect leader for Walnut Hills athletics.”

Davidson attended WHHS, Akron University and The University of Cincinnati alongside Steele, and was recruited to fill the softball coach position by her.

Relationships like hers with Davidson, are a key part of Steele’s leadership as she prides herself on her ability to foster connections.

“You never know what a relationship could do for you,” Steele said. “It was because of my connection with the AD when I was here, [Tom Donelly], that I got my job here.”

The formation of these relationships has left an impact, not only on our student athletes, but on their families as well.

“She is not only qualified, but an amazing human being,” Anne Marie Brandt, parent of WHHS SENIOR, said. “She leads by example, grace and a secure relationship style. It would be a missed opportunity to not name Shay the new AD.”

Steele plans to move into her new role with three clear goals: fostering more relationships between departments and coaches, building pride for being a WHHS student athlete, and improving the department’s focus on academic success.

“When I was a student here I did athletics, student council and marching band so I was involved in all of those things, and they had to work together,” Steele said. “You need [to work together] to provide opportunities for students.”

Along with her vision, Steele recognizes the importance of her being in the athletic department in the first place. As a Black woman in a predominantly white male space, she hopes to show other young Black girls that they can succeed in athletic careers.

“To be a Black woman in this space is important, and my white male peers know that I’m here because I’m supposed to be,” Steele said.

CPS would like to begin the transition for the new AD before the end of the school year, and Steele and the Nuthouse hope to see herself in the role for the 2022-23 school year.

“The people spoke, she deserves this,” Jonathan Brown, WHHS class of 2020 alum, said.