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Women's History Month: Catching up with Norfolk State's first female Athletic Director

Melody Webb Norfolk State University
Posted at 7:07 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 09:33:12-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Fresh off a conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Melody Webb feels good about her athletic department's standing in the world of college sports.

"It was a great experience," said Webb. "The student athletes really did an excellent job just promoting Norfolk State University, promoting the brand, so the visibility that they brought to the university is unparalleled and it's one of those things where you're just excited they had the opportunity to kind of go through the experience."

Since being named Norfolk State's Athletic Director in July, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic no less, Webb's first priority has been the health and well-being of her student athletes, not just physically, but mentally too.

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Melody Webb was named Norfolk State University's Athletic Director in July 2020. She's the school's first female to hold the position.

After all, the Chicago native knows the challenges of balancing school and sports.

"I played volleyball and basketball in college at Savannah State University, went on to become a head coach of volleyball at Bowie State University," she tells News 3.

From there, Webb says she got into the administrative side of college athletics with stints at University of Maryland, George Washington University and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) before arriving at Norfolk State in 2014.

"Each university taught me something new," Webb says.

It all led up to her biggest role yet; taking over for Marty Miller as the leader of the Spartans' athletic department.

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(L to R) Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Norfolk State Women's Basketball senior Armani Franklin, Coach Larry Vickers and Athletic Director Melody Webb.

Webb is the first woman to hold the job in school history and one of just two female athletic directors in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

The last eight months have been busy, she says, putting in place new initiatives focused on providing a holistic student athlete experience. Webb also has a budget to keep balanced and, as of this month, is searching for a new football coach.

"It's a big deal. It's a big search."

On the whole, the experience with the new job has been a positive one, Webb tells News 3. She's facing challenges head-on, aware of her status as a role model not only for young women at Norfolk State University, but any young girl that sees her leading a university athletic department.

"People see you putting in the work, so to see that your hard work pays off and having been elevated to the next level, I think the student athletes see that as well," said Webb. "To be able to see me go into that position, they know what progress looks like."

And if Webb ever needs inspiration, she doesn't have to look far; Norfolk State has a history of giving women the reins.

Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston became the university's third female president in 2019 and, most recently, NSU alum Maia Chaka became the NFL's first Black female on-field official.

Maia Chaka
Head linesman Maia Chaka makes a call during the second half of an NFL preseason football game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

To women and girls looking to break into any male-dominated field, Melody Webb offers this advice:

I would always tell everyone, chase the experience," she said. "Chase the experience, not the job, not the check. Chase the experience. Take the opportunity to really go after what it is that you would like to do and take that time to build that craft."