The Oxford College of Emory University Athletic Department is proud to announce that Ella O’Kelley has been named the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach/Instructor. Coach O’Kelley is Oxford’s first cross country coach and has established a varsity program at Oxford College that is expanding by leaps and bounds. She is a coach, collegiate athlete, professional athlete, personal trainer, educator and scholar. Ella O’Kelley brings a true passion for health, fitness and sports to Oxford College of Emory University.
From 2009-2013, Coach O’Kelley was the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field coach at Fort Valley State University (FVSU) leading four out of their eleven total programs. She made a major impact on the growth and national prominence of all 4 programs that has been unparalleled.
Some of her notable accolades include: rebuilding and leading both men and women cross country teams to 3rd place finishes at the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Cross Country Conference Championship (2010 and 2012); breaking 18 track and cross country school records combined; played a major role in FVSU winning the (SIAC) Commission’s Women All Sports Award; three competitive ranking at NCAA Cross Country Regional; and coached 16 NCAA athletes to All-American status. Coach O’Kelly has been honored with multiple awards such as “Best Female Coach Southeastern Region” by NCAA Division II, “Top Female Coach” by SIAC, and The Jesse Brown Award for “Most Influential Coach On- and Off-Field” by FVSU.
In 2011, O’Kelley took her coaching knowledge to another level when she completed the USA Track & Field Coaching Education Level 2 Program and became a certified Level 2 Coach. Held on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology, the five-day course provided coaches with a more advanced, in-depth knowledge of sports science concepts and training principles. The sports science instruction enhanced her understanding of sports psychology, pedagogy, sports medicine and training principles.
She also understands firsthand what it takes to be a student/athlete on the collegiate level. As a competitor for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, Coach O’Kelley was honored with NCAA All American status six times (twice in the 100 High Hurdles, once as a member of the 4 x 100m relay team, and three times as a member of the 4 x 400 relay team, which included winning the National Championship in 2000). She was also a three time Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion, capturing the coveted SEC Champion titles in the 100m and 400m hurdles and as a member of the 4 x 400m relay team. She currently holds two school records. In her senior year, the University of South Carolina chose Ella as the Student-Athlete of the Year for her stellar academic and athletic accomplishments.
O’Kelley competed as a professional athlete for the USA Team for six years, and was the 2000 Sydney Olympics alternate in the 100 hurdles.
O’Kelley is not only known for focusing on athletics, she also has high priorities and appreciation for academics, community and family. While the list of athletic accomplishments is long, her resume of academic accomplishment, education, and professional affiliations are equally impressive! As the founder of two companies, she has mentored and guided high school athletes in their transition to college and contributes to combating obesity in our youth under another (Athlete Alliance, Inc. and S-o-u-lutions for Youth Corp respectively). Furthermore, she has given back to the community through outreach programs. In 2013, O’Kelley was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Albany High School in Albany, NY.
The Albany, NY native earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, Columbia SC in 2000 (Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society), MBA degree from American intercontinental University, Dunwoody Ga in 2005 (Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society), and is currently a part-time student working on her Juris Doctor (JD) degree at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.
She is married to one of Atlanta’s prominent distance runners, Tony O’Kelley, and they have two children, Rhíana and Keshaun.