Newsday: Molloy’s Bob Houlihan to Step Down After 36 Years
By Owen O'Brien
It's always been about more than just sports for Molloy College's Bob Houlihan.
When two former Molloy student-athletes suffered serious injuries in an auto accident, Houlihan was there to organize a fundraiser. When a student wanted to be a member of the basketball team - just as a manager and to sing the national anthem - Houlihan was there with an invitation. And when a four-year basketball player wasn't quite ready to end her collegiate athletic tenure, Houlihan was there with a spot on the softball team.
Houlihan, 72, who has been a member of Molloy faculty for 36 years starting as a girls basketball and softball coach, transitioning into athletic director and most recently the vice president of student affairs, is stepping down from his position that helped not only transform Molloy's athletic department, but the college as a whole.
But when Houlihan thinks about his 36 years, he doesn't talk about himself. He's more proud of what the students achieved.
"When I look back, what I feel best about is the integrity of the kids," said Houlihan, a Malverne resident. "They're honest and they truly make an honest all-out effort to do what's right and that's pretty cool."
And his former players have no shortage of stories to share. Beth Hein Seder, who played four years of softball and basketball for Houlihan, remembers him as a "super intense" but loving coach.
"Every single day there was something where he'd make you laugh or he'd make you cry in good way," said Hein, who graduated in 1998. "If I needed something today, he would drop everything he was doing and I know he'd be there for me and that goes for everyone that's every played for him. He's someone who will always be someone really, really important in my life."
Susan Cassidy-Lyke played for Houlihan, coached with him and filled two of his former positions as softball head coach and athletic director at the school. Houlihan became her mentor.
"You're never going to replace him and that's never what I would want to do because no one can replace Bob," Cassidy-Lyke said.
"But having him as my boss technically overseeing athletics has allowed me to do some things that maybe I wouldn't have been able to do without having someone so esteemed as him that everyone can trust."
After playing four years of basketball at Molloy, Karen Pfeil wanted to stay involved in athletics spend more time around Houlihan. So much that she walked on to the softball team her senior year.
"I can run into anyone and I feel like the glue for everyone that went to Molloy is 'Oh, do you know Bob Houlihan?,'" said Pfeil, who graduated in 1991. "I feel sad for Molloy because they are losing a great piece here."
Houlihan was a detective in the police department before joining Molloy in 1980. Although his competitive nature drove him to the school through sports, he wanted to have an impact on more than just student-athletes, which is why he took the job as vice president for student affairs in 2001.
"It was the realization that in athletics you have the opportunity to help 200 to 300 students who are student-athletes," Houlihan said. "When I went to student affairs, it was an opportunity I had to help out 3,000 students. So it was a no-brainer for me."
Students like, Susan Welge, who was a manager of the basketball team. But Weldge felt as important as any player, something she never forgot. She even said Houlihan organized a fundraiser after she and Pfeil were in a car accident after finishing school.
"He just took care of everybody," said Welge, who graduated in 1991. "He was always looking out for everybody and everybody was welcomed all the time."