Deborah Wardlaw was recently announced as the new Athletic Director at Columbia College. No stranger to Columbia College, Wardlaw was a two-sport, NAIA All-American during her time at the school.
In an interview with Wardlaw, she recalled great memories of being a student athlete and how it shaped her as a person. The most vivid memories were of the trips to away games. These were the stories that were shared during her Hall of Fame induction at Columbia College in 2019. She stated that her experiences at Columbia College helped her to become a successful woman in the professional world. The structure of an academic and athletic schedule really helped to “prepare her for the real world.”
Wardlaw spent 35 years in Richland One as a physical education teacher, head basketball coach and athletic director at Lower Richland High School. She coached the girls’ basketball team to seven state championship titles. In her second season as head coach, she led an undefeated team to her first championship.
She became AD at Lower Richland in 2016 and became only the 10th female AD in the state of South Carolina. Wardlaw said she found her experience as one of the 10 women empowered her to be seen as a leader in athletics and not just as a woman.
“Being a woman, it can either go one way or another,” she said. “You can feel empowered or you can feel like you are trudging through quicksand all the time.”
She often was asked the question about being a female Athletic Director, and she would respond: “I would do [the job] like I am a man.”
She retired from Lower Richland this past summer, but still felt like there was more for her to accomplish. Columbia College is excited to have her back on campus.