Recognizing Her Need for Speed

Heather McConnell Buckelew ’95 knew two things: She wanted to be in the race industry, and she was heading to Coker College to be one step closer to the finish line. Unfortunately, she was not aware of the track nor its pitfalls, but she would shortly be aware of the opportunities that lie just around the turn.

Buckelew’s experience at Coker College is similar to that of many students who take advantage of both academic and athletic opportunities. As a student-athlete, Buckelew enjoyed the additional roles of Coker College Union President, Commissioner, Ambassador, President of the Residence Hall Association and member of the President’s Blue Ribbon Taskforce. Her participation and leadership roles in these organizations not only kept her busy, but also kept her engaged and connected to her school and the Hartsville community.

Although Buckelew credits her experience with Coker organizations as a form of preparation for tasks she would be assigned in her career, it was ultimately her internship experiences that led to her career path. During her time as a student, Buckelew completed three internships, encompassing aspects of her dream job: working in public relations for a race team. Working for the Darlington Raceway allowed Buckelew the opportunity to see the process of a race from the facility perspective. Her second and third internships focused on sports information with the Florence Morning News and WPDE-TV, lending experience in the media relations aspect of the industry. According to Buckelew, “Through these internships, I was able to get a glimpse of how all the pieces fit.”

Following graduation in 1995 with a degree in physical education, Buckelew continued on her track by working for Cotter Communications and The Motorsports Decisions Group. In 2002, she landed her dream job, working for Hendrick Motorsports, finally completing the track that seemed so unconquerable. She credits Coker College for the connections in the industry that were provided to her as well as the financial support of alumni. She states, “Alumni are the backbone of Coker College, and it’s only fair to pay it forward.”

Buckelew’s story is similar to many alumni who utilized the opportunities provided them and were persistent on their own track for the future. Although Buckelew literally deals with races, tracks and fast cars, it was ultimately the green flag at Coker College that led her to the success she now enjoys in the racing industry.



Dee Pierce
Manager of Resource Development

Peggy Smith
Advancement Officer

Barb Steadman
Secretary of the College

Megan Wainwright
Administrative Assistant

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300 East College Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550