LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Stephen Oberly has been named the athletic director at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.
Oberly joined Fayette in 2013 as an administrative support assistant in the athletics department before accepting a hybrid position as kinesiology instructor and assistant athletic director in 2014. He briefly served as interim athletic director in 2015.
A first-generation college graduate, Oberly holds a bachelor of arts in history and a master of science in sport management from California University of Pennsylvania, where he was a graduate assistant of sports clubs and student-athlete on the hockey club team.
“With my immersive experience as a student-athlete, administrator and instructor, I consider myself a liaison between those worlds,” said Oberly. “My time as assistant director was extremely valuable in learning to assess student-athlete eligibility, provide academic support and work with staff who oversee on-court and on-field experiences.”
At the peak of the pandemic, Oberly served as the Faculty Senate chairperson for the 2020–21 academic year and played an integral role in developing and implementing COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the athletic department.
“I learned about individual and team resilience. I learned that we will be okay. We will work together and get through it. We haven’t stopped moving forward,” he said. “This experience has reminded us how special game day is — the energy, the environment, the culture. We are reinvigorated.”
Oberly has helped to shape Student-Athletes Graduate and Excel (SAGE), Fayette’s signature support program for student-athletes who fall below Penn State’s academic standards for athletic participation. Since SAGE was implemented in 2015, eligibility has soared to over 90 percent.
He and a group of Fayette staff presented “SAGE Coaching: Re-Defining Student Success During a Pandemic” for the National Organization for Student Success (NOSS) Ohio Chapter Virtual Conference in November.
He said he counts the 2019 USCAA Volleyball Division II National Championship win among his proudest moments in the program, for which he was present to celebrate the historic team’s first national title.
“My favorite part of this role is the product that we see on game day. It’s extremely invigorating and motivating for me. Every day is different and exciting. I’m vicariously enjoying it through the student-athletes," said Oberly.
This semester, Oberly has helped to establish Fayette’s first men’s soccer team with co-ed opportunities, as well as the Fayette Athletics Network (“The Fan”), a digital channel for broadcasts of games, podcasts, interviews and more.
“In a pandemic era when we can’t always be together, we need to take sports to the fans, the community, to friends and family,” he said.
Plans for the program’s future include a women’s soccer team, in the short-term, and state-of-the-art facility upgrades — such as a soccer field, track complex and golf practice area — in the long-term. Oberly said he also hopes to start a co-ed esports program, a form of competitive video gaming that colleges have been adopting since 2009.
"[Esports] is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports programs in the country and the kind of direction we should consider with the expanse of virtual competitive platforms, streaming and accessibility," he said.
Oberly is beginning work on his dissertation in fulfillment of a doctorate of philosophy in health and human performance. He lives in Canonsburg with his wife, Kelsey — whom he credited as his “rock,” and their two dogs, Rowan and Harvey.
“I love this campus and this county. It’s my backyard. It’s always been part of my aspirations to make a difference in this community, to leave my own stamp. These are my people,” he said. “I want to continue working with our athletics staff and campus supporters in offering opportunities for our student-athletes to stay in this area. I hope to holistically support our students’ overall academic, social and emotional wellness to empower them to achieve their own success story.”
I love this campus and this county. It’s my backyard. It’s always been part of my aspirations to make a difference in this community, to leave my own stamp. These are my people.
—Stephen Oberly , athletic director, Penn State Fayette