This article originally appeared on DelmarvaNow.
Hallie Gregory, the longtime athletics director for Holly Grove Christian School and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, died Sunday, Sept. 17, after leaving a major mark on the sports community across Delmarva.
Gregory first came to the Shore in 1989, where he was hired as the top man for UMES athletics.
The Indiana University graduate was responsible for several core decisions dealing with the school, including the creation of the William P. Hytche Athletic Center and the additions of soccer, bowling and tennis.
The Hawks’ athletic director held his position until 2000 and was later inducted into the Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference halls of fame.
“Dr. Gregory was an innovator and a forward thinker, who was concerned about the welfare of student athletes with preparing our student athletes for the future,” current UMES Athletics Director Keith Davidson said in a university press release. “He was a man of integrity and fair play. He was a respected and accomplished figure in the industry of intercollegiate athletics.”
But it wasn’t just his ideas and accomplishments that allowed him to leave a lasting legacy — it was also his character, personality and positive attitude toward everyone he encountered, said those who knew him well.
“He was a man who loved people, loved the kids and served as a mentor for all,” said Shelly Clark, Holly Grove physical education teacher. “He was a father figure, a grandfather figure to a lot of people, and I don’t think there was one person that came in contact with him that didn’t admire and respect him.”
Six years after Gregory left UMES, he returned to Somerset County to take the same position at Holly Grove Christian School, where he also taught physical education and brought multiple sports to the school.
“He wasn’t just an athletic director — he was like a life coach,” Clark said. “He just made everyone feel like they were the most important person when he talked to them. He would always talk to you about life, and he had the most integrity from anyone I’ve ever met.”
According to Clark, one former Holly Grove student who enrolled in the military and is stationed in Hawaii is returning to the Shore for the funeral, displaying the impact Gregory had on the Holly Grove community.
Several students and faculty members took to social media to post tributes, expressing their love for Gregory while recalling memorable experiences they had with the longtime educator.
Clark recalled one former student mentioning she had dropped an AP class just so she could sign up to be Gregory’s student aide at Holly Grove.
“That’s who he was — everyone wanted to be around him,” Clark said. “He had an impact on every person he came in contact with; student, teacher, parent, faculty, whoever. Everyone had a great deal of respect for him.”
Gregory also had ties to Delaware State, Central State University in Ohio and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, leaving a mark throughout the eastern United States.
At all his stops, Gregory always made the most of his time with an organization, building a program that would be competitive and send a positive message to its athletes and individuals.
“It was an adjustment for him when he went from a university to (Holly Grove), but he brought it to a level where he expected quality out of the program,” Clark said. “He loved working with the coaches because of their passion.”
Though his time as athletic figurehead has come to an end, the mark that Gregory left on those he dealt with will live on.
Whether it was his contributions to UMES or leading a Bible study group at Holly Grove, Gregory developed relationships that won’t soon be forgotten.
As Clark walks into the Holly Grove gymnasium every day, she stops and remembers everything Gregory did for athletics and for those he encountered.
“The impact that he had will bring tears to your eyes,” Clark said. “He was just an amazing man with a love for all.”