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March 16, 2021 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

Sports Under 40: Learning Through Leading

I have always had a passion for athletics and coaching for as long as I can remember. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to do something I love for a living. As an athletic director for a Charter School District, overseeing athletic programs for four schools in the city of Philadelphia, I take great pride in supporting our coaches and community while developing our athletic programs for our student-athletes. 

It has always been important for me to continue learning and reflecting in the field of athletic administration. The times we live in are continually changing, and it is important to stay up to date with best practices in athletics. For me, the National Interscholastic Athletic Administration (NIAAA) and Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA) along with the Philadelphia Public League (PPL) and Metropolitan Philadelphia Athletic Association (MPAA) have supported my growth as a professional. 

learningIf you take any legal course offered by the NIAAA, you will hear the same sigh of concern amongst athletic directors in the room. This is because athletic directors know that one of their primary duties is to ensure a safe environment for all participants within athletic programs. The NIAAA courses I have taken helped me reflect to be a more proactive athletic administrator for my school district. Now, this does not mean that everything is going to move in the right direction with a snap of your fingers. Policies and procedures take time to implement and it is important to provide professional development on any procedures with all stakeholders involved. Throughout my years as an athletic administrator, the NIAAA has supported my growth in the field of athletics.

It is important to take advantage of every opportunity that is offered. For me, I was given the opportunity by the PSADA to become a certified instructor for the NIAAA. I took advantage of this opportunity and I am proud to say that I have been teaching NIAAA courses to my colleagues and athletic directors within the Philadelphia region for the past two years. Before the pandemic, I was scheduled to teach my first class at the PSADA conference last March. I know this is a bit cliché, but it’s true: I continue to learn from my colleagues by teaching NIAAA courses. If you go to the NIAAA national conference, each instructor will do the same thing at the beginning of the course. That is, “I am the instructor for this course, but I am also a facilitator and participant. I guarantee that I will learn something new today from one of you and that is the beauty of taking these classes. We learn from each other.” This is 100% true. Also, we must support each other as athletic administrators for the betterment of our schools, community, and athletic programs. I value the relationships I have encountered and the importance of continuing education through the NIAAA, PSADA, and higher institutions. 

In closing, I would highly encourage anyone who is or is considering to be an athletic administrator, coach, or involved in a leadership role in athletics to continue to strive towards learning and being connected to those around you. By supporting each other and learning from one another, the individuals that will prosper from our success and cohesiveness are our student-athletes. Which is the very reason why we perform the duties of our job that can be so demanding to our personal and professional lives.

John Seman is the Director of Athletics for ASPIRA of PA Schools. He was the November honoree of Coach & Athletic Director’s Sports Under 40 Award. To learn more about the Sports Under 40 Program, click here.