Catherine Neely, a true Pioneer legend, passed away early Wednesday morning. Posts on social media said Neely passed away after battling COVID-19.
Neely retired from coaching girls’ volleyball and basketball in 2014. But not until she amassed 1,395 wins on the volleyball court and tallied 626 wins on the basketball court.
She was the national volleyball coach of the year in 2006 and was honored by USA Volleyball with a “Lifetime Achievement and Service Award” in 2008.
In 2012 Neely became the first woman in Tennessee to be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame.
Former East Ridge Principal Ed Foster told the Times Free Press that “Catherine is East Ridge High School.”
Foster said that Neely was influential to the school outside of athletics and was a mentor to many.
“I’ve never seen anyone who was more thorough and more in-charge with whatever she was a part of,” Foster told the TFP’s Stephen Hargis. “I have so much respect for her and her body of work.”
Neely, who was affectionately known by her athletes as “Mama Cat,” was 78 years old.