Themy Adachi has been Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (APER) at Mills College since 2000 and Assistant Dean of Student Life since 2011. As an Asian American woman, Adachi represents less than 1% of NCAA athletic directors. Understanding the power and responsibility of such a position, Adachi advocates to create socially just and inclusive athletic opportunities for all students, including diverse populations, and to provide student-athletes with transformative learning through sport and civic engagement.
Under Adachi’s leadership, Mills College Athletics has been nationally recognized for its community service and outreach, having been a five time recipient of one of the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators/ Josten’s Community Service Awards. Each year Mills College teams engage in community outreach projects to develop leadership skills and discover their power to impact the world. JanetTV.com selected Mills College as their #23 pick for America's Top Colleges for Academically Oriented Female Athletes in 2014. They noted Mills' highest priority on development of the whole student-athlete, where academics and personal growth are held as highly as athletic pursuits.
In 2011, Adachi was the recipient of the Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) Administrator of the Year Award for Division III. In recognition of her leadership in making sports at Mills College accessible and inclusive to Alameda county residents, Adachi was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005 as the “Outstanding Woman of the Year in Sports and Athletics.” In 2009, Adachi received the United States Tennis Association Northern California Trailblazer Award, for “lifelong commitment to growing the sport of tennis in traditional and non-traditional communities.”
Adachi serves as a role model for women’s leadership and is committed to women’s leadership education. Adachi currently serves on the Mills Division of Student Life Leadership Team. She has also served on the 2013 NACWAA Convention Program Commitee. Adachi served as the California Pacific Conference President and was the chairperson of the Association of Division III Independents (AD3I) Initiative Grants Committee. Whether it’s supporting student-athletes to become a National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative, to go to NCAA leadership conferences, to participate in an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Conference, or to become a team leader, Adachi emphasizes that everyone can be a leader because everyone can make a difference.
Consequently, Mills student-athletes have led the way. Two student-athletes have become representatives on the NCAA Division III National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Two Mills student-athletes have been honored at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Conference as Coca-Cola Community All-Americans. In 2008–2009, both the Mills College Swimming and Cross Country teams received the most esteemed award of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), in recognition of being the NAIA team that best represented the NAIA Champions of Character five core tenets. Two Mills College athletes have received Arthur Ashe Award recognition for academic excellence and community activism. In spring 2011, the Mills Student-Athlete Advisory Committee led a cutting edge workshop on inclusion of transgender athletes. Mills student-athletes are making their mark in today’s global society.
When the Mills soccer team experienced derogatory racial and LGBT comments on a road trip in 2006, Adachi advocated for the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel's adoption of a national soccer rule change, which gave soccer officials the authority and expectation to eject a player who “engages in hostile or abusive language or harassment that refers to race religion, sex, sexual orientation or national origin, or other abusive, threatening or obscene language, behavior or conduct”. Under her leadership, the California Pacific Conference also adopted similar legislation to facilitate the development of a harassment-free environment for all student-athletes within the conference.
During her 17 years at Mills prior to becoming the APER director, Adachi served broadly within the department as a Head Volleyball Coach, Recreation Coordinator, Physical Education Coordinator, Aquatics Coordinator, and Physical Education instructor. She has served on campus-wide Mills College committees, such as the Strategic Planning Work Group, served as Vice-President of the Mills College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Chaired the Committee on Diversity, and Co-chaired the Division of Student Life Assessment Committee.
Adachi received her Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Physical Education and Psychology, as well as her Masters of Arts Degree in Physical Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She competed on the Cal volleyball team one year and softball team four years. Adachi was an All-Californian, Nor-Cal All-Conference Award winner, and during her senior year received one of the earliest athletic scholarships bestowed upon women at the university, thanks to Title IX. She received the Gimbel Prize, which was awarded to one U.C. Berkeley graduating senior annually in recognition of outstanding scholarship and athletic achievement.
While Adachi has devoted her career to the advancement of women’s athletics, she is grateful that academic excellence and developing as a whole person was at the core of her educational experience, and she brings this perspective to her work at Mills College and to Division III athletics. Evidence that Mills student-athletes are well integrated into the Mills community, student-athletes are leaders and active members in every facet of campus life.