Servant Leadership: Aspiring Athletic Administrator Program Provides Coaches with Opportunities for Growth


By Dena Scott, CAA
Director of Athletics, Fort Bend ISD

As Athletic Administrators look to hire candidates who can hit the ground running in their departments as soon as they are hired, often times, there is no amount of experience or manual that can provide the necessary assistance to encompass all aspects of this profession. When I started eight years ago as an Assistant Athletic Director, I learned first-hand the meaning of this as I was assigned job roles that dealt with department budget, officials pay, several sports, athletic facilities, administrative duties and while at the same time managing the District Physical Education and Health department.  With each passing day, week and year, I amassed a wealth of knowledge as well as a mile long list of athletic administrator contacts who I would and still call to ask questions, share ideas, and just bounce ideas off one another.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was sitting in my office thinking what better way to provide coaches who aspire to be athletic administrators an opportunity to observe, listen and work alongside us to gain the knowledge and experience I wish I had prior my to first day on the job. The idea came to me in the form of a cohort where our coaches could meet with us once a month and hear from fellow area Athletic Administrators, shadow us at athletic events as site coordinators, and then work together on district athletic administrative projects all with the end goal in mind: preparing coaches for future athletic administrator roles.

At our first aspiring athletic administrative cohort meeting in October of 2019, the first guest speaker was Tim Martin, the Assistant Athletic Director in Alief ISD. He shared his inspiring story with us on how he went from coaching into athletic administration as well as what his role is as an Assistant AD. The agenda also provided a list of upcoming athletic events where coaches could sign up to gain hands on experience. We were looking to form smaller committees to work on projects for athletics and allowed those who were interested to work on those projects. Overall, it was a successful first meeting and as we continued, we fortunate to hear stories from Nicole Nelson (LCISD AD), Pat Dowling (Katy Asst. AD), and Cheryl Etlinger (Spring Branch Asst. AD).

Recently, we started up the cohort again and Deb Mize (FBISD Asst. AD) has taken the reigns and has been able to secure additional athletic administrative speakers, Andre Walker (HISD AD), Virginia Flores (Cy Fair Asst. AD) and  Jason Glenn (Klein ISD Director of Student Outreach) who all provide powerful messages to our coaches.

The cohort is averaging about 75 total members and has had an average of 45 attend each meeting since April. The feedback from the group and the speakers has been positive and attracted interest from surrounding districts.  As we continue to provide more opportunities for our coaches to gain knowledge and experience in our profession as athletic administrators, our hope is to continue to grow leaders as well as confident co-workers who can join our teams in making an immediate positive impact.