Shelly Olds. Courtesy of Roanoke College.

Shelley Olds ’03, a collegiate soccer star who went on to become a world-class cyclist and member of the U.S. Olympic Team, is returning to her alma mater to coach Roanoke College’s new competitive cycling program for men and women. 

Olds, who relocated to Salem from Arizona to take on her new role, said returning to Roanoke College to help build the cycling program was a “no-brainer” for her. 

“Roanoke College is like my family. They asked me to come home and I said yes, of course,” Olds said in a statement. “I have every interest in making this the best program that it can be because I want the best for the school, always.”  

Roanoke’s cycling team, which has been registered with USA Cycling, will compete this fall as a club sport. The team will soon be elevated to varsity status, at which point it will compete as part of the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference (ACCC). 

Olds, a native of Groton, Massachusetts, was inducted into the Roanoke College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 for her achievements in soccer and cycling. As a midfielder on the women’s soccer team, she was a two-time NSCAA All-South Region selection, the 2002 ODAC Player of the Year, and a four-time All-ODAC selection, including three first-team honors to close her career. She left the program as the all-time leader in scoring (98 points) and assists (26), and she came in second in career goals (36). 

After college, Olds joined her family in California and began training for a marathon to stay in shape, but a case of Achilles tendonitis forced her to seek a different activity. She began cycling and soon found herself riding competitively. After winning the UCI Road World Cup in China and a stage of the women’s Giro d’Italia, she joined the U.S. Olympic Team and competed in the London games. Despite pouring rain and a flat tire in the closing kilometers, she finished 7th overall.  

Before she found out about Roanoke’s new team and was offered the coaching job, Olds had planned to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. She said she’ll put those plans on hold temporarily to invest time and energy into recruiting athletes for the cycling program.