What is an athletic administrator? Most people know that an athletic director organizes schedules, meets with coaches, and stays involved with school systems. What not everyone realizes is that athletic directors wear many hats and play a key role in the community. Nathan Turner understands this impact more than most. In his ten-plus years of working in the field, he has found a career in athletic administration can be leveraged in ways he never thought possible.
Turner has a heart for serving the community. His career as an athletic administrator began when he was hired straight out of college as an athletic assistant at a high school in Forsyth, Georgia, just forty-five miles north of Atlanta. After two years serving faithfully in this role, he got promoted to full-time athletic director. He led in that role for ten years.
Although Turner was content in his career, God was not finished growing and stretching him. About six years ago, Turner received the opportunity to become district athletic director over all of the high schools in Forsyth. When he got the job, he didn’t see it as a place of arrival. He knew he had to remain teachable.
“The position led to a lot more responsibilities,” he said. “I knew I needed to pursue personal and professional growth as I expanded my role.”
It was then that Turner discovered Grace College’s online masters of sports administration program. It was flexible, attainable, and effective, allowing for him to pursue further education while still working in this new role.
“I knew it was the right school and the right time,” shares Turner.
Although taking on new professional responsibilities while pursuing education can come with its challenges, Turner felt that the format of the class schedule was ideal, allowing him to work at his own pace. He balance his schedule because of the flexibility of the project-based program and support from faculty. And according to Turner, Dr. Johnson deserves a huge shout-out.
“He was a cornerstone for me. I believe my growth and success in the program was due to his amazing work as advisor and director.”
One of Turner’s favorite parts of the masters of sports administration program was the projects that directly applied to his role as director. The project-based learning allowed for him to grow in his education while growing his career and improving his community. His most memorable project resulted in the founding of an organization called Impact Leadership, and it is still growing to this day.
“Impact Leadership was started about four years ago and began with a handful of young coaches at a high school,” said Turner. “Now it is district-wide. The goal is to equip coaches to become leaders and head coaches by teaching them all the things that people don’t realize come with the athletic director role.”
Impact Leadership teaches students to campaign, fundraise, work with parents, facilitate community relations, develop interview skills, and more. The program has become very successful with about 80% of coaches going on to get full-time jobs after completion.
Turner’s experience in the athletic administration program prepared him for the constantly growing role of district athletic director. Since taking the job, his district has increased by two high schools, which means that his load is continuing to increase. Through it all, he is grateful for the preparation the online degree gave him.
“I feel that I have a great understanding of the hiring process, budgeting, facilitating and coordinating with directors,” he reflects. “I have been able to support other directors and coaches as they grow!”
Are you looking for ways to invest in your community as an athletic administrator? Check out the online masters of sports administration with Grace College.