Aug. 24, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
Penny Boswell hasn’t had any nightmares yet about leaving a pole vaulter behind at the airport, but as the new Director of Operations for South Carolina’s track and field and cross country teams, the former Gamecock distance runner (2010-2014) is well aware of the long hours ahead to do the job right.
“I felt at home in this world,” Boswell said. “It’s very fast-paced. It requires a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of ability to keep up. That’s always how I like to operate. I like to go full speed all of the time. It’s more than a fulltime job. It’s sort of a life style.”
Having competed for the South Carolina track and field and cross country teams, and being a competitor all her life, this was the next logical step. Boswell coordinates the daily operations for the Gamecocks, including team travel and management, while serving as the program’s liaison to the athletics department.
“It’s travel, flights, buses, meals, making sure we get from meet to meet, and anything in between,” Boswell said. “And then I’ll handle any needs that we have in practice and everywhere else to operate on a day to day basis.”
With a traveling party of more than 100 student-athletes and coaches, Boswell is excited about using the new Teamworks software system to make sure everyone is always on the same page.
“Part of the job is being able to adjust on the fly,” Boswell said. “Being able to move that many student-athletes every weekend is a huge challenge. Teamworks will be a huge benefit. It basically ties all of your [communications] media together, so your itinerary gets loaded into the app and every student-athlete has up to date information. When anything changes, it alerts them on the fly. It’s almost immediate communication. You never have to worry about working off an old itinerary.”
For this position specifically, I wanted it because it’s home. It’s Carolina.
While technology will take some of the traditional “cat-herding” off her plate, Boswell knows communication will be the key in everything she does. She also understands that one of the biggest challenges early on will be the learning curve associated with the job.
“There is a lot I know about this program, and how we operate,” Boswell said. “But there’s a lot of information that will take some time to learn.”
She noted that having been a student-athlete at South Carolina will also help her in that regard.
“I know exactly what those student-athletes are going through,” Boswell said. “I did it recently. I know the pros and cons of being a student-athlete. It is very time consuming, but the things that are typically consuming your time are making you better than you were yesterday. All of those little things helped me get to where I am today.”
Head Coach Curtis Frye said Boswell is loved by the staff, and he loves seeing a member of the athletics family come back home.
“She has seen how it’s done,” Frye said. “This is a tireless and thankless job that is going to take a lot of passion and love. I can talk forever about Penny and the things she can accomplish.”
Boswell isn’t a rookie in such as position after spending the previous year as an assistant coach and operations director with the track and field and cross country programs at UNC Greensboro. She got her feet wet in the business after spending two years working with the Gamecock track and field and cross country teams as an operations intern and later as a graduate manager.
“I realized near the end of my undergraduate days that I wanted to work in intercollegiate athletics,” Boswell said. “My master’s definitely solidified that. This is where I wanted to go. Track and field is one of my favorite things. I love being a part of a track and field program. For this position specifically, I wanted it because it’s home. It’s Carolina. It’s everything I stand for.”
During her four years as a Gamecock student-athlete, Boswell was team captain for two years, she twice earned the Team Leadership Award, and represented the cross country program on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for three seasons. She led the cross country team to three appearances at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship. On the track, she represented the Gamecocks at both the indoor and outdoor SEC Championship meets. She won the 5000m at the 2014 USC Outdoor Open and still holds the seventh-best outdoor 10000m time in school history.
Her days of competing may be over, but Boswell still finds time to run. However, she doesn’t get up before sunrise to do it like she had to do in the past.
“I absolutely do not [get up early to run],” Boswell laughed. “I enjoy being able to run when I want to run. I do make time to run. It’s something that’s good for the soul.”
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