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Beyond the Wins and Losses: What to Look for in an Athletic Director Degree

Success in the world of athletics is usually quantified by wins and losses. For William Patrick, long-time coach and teacher, success is measured by so much more. Patrick wanted to make an impact at his school in the world of athletics which is why, at age fifty-two, Patrick decided to go back to school to receive an athletic director degree. Going back to school at that age seemed daunting, but he was excited to equip himself with the degree. So he began searching for an athletic director masters program online.

“Should I really be going for this athletic director degree?” Patrick remembers asking himself. ”Most students start right after undergrad, so I knew I would be the oldest in the group,” said Patrick. However, when Patrick decided to go back to school with Grace College’s online athletic director masters program, he knew he made a good choice. There were several characteristics he was looking for in the program, and he found every single one at Grace.



The first characteristic that Patrick sought out in an athletic director masters program was accreditation. He wanted a program that was legitimate and backed by a real institution. He was attending the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association conference in Florida when he first became aware of Grace College’s online athletic director degree program through the representatives from the Canadian Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association (CIAAA).

“I thought to myself, this is something I should do to further my career, but did not follow up right away,” Patrick remembers.

When the pandemic hit in 2019, Patrick found himself with more time on his hands. He remembered the Grace College program from the NFHS/NADC conference and looked into the school further. He immediately loved that the program was backed by CIAAA, NIAAA, and an in-person campus with great professors.



Patrick knew he would need to be supported through the program. Because the school he works at is newer, he is self-taught in the role of athletic directing. This was why he knew he needed people he could rely on for questions along the way. Thankfully, he immediately began building a relationship with the program director, Dr. Darrell Johnson.

“Dr. Johnson was so incredibly helpful,” shares Patrick. “He was able to connect me with the program and has been an amazing source of guidance ever since – specifically in regards to catering the program towards our needs in Canada that often differ from the U.S.”



Patrick also values getting a degree that was applicable to his current job. He knew he wanted something that he could use in the day to day without having to press “pause” on his career.

“The projects are amazing!” he shares, “They are all geared toward my school and my situation, which means I have actually been able to use them outside the classroom!

Since Patrick runs the athletic program, he has found that the projects about budget and finances were especially helpful. With the help of these projects, he was even able to develop an athletic handbook for his school.

“Everything I’ve done throughout my athletic director degree has been totally useful and practical,” he shares. “The practicality of the program was one of the main reasons I chose it. I can work at my own pace on what actually helps my career.”

In addition to the project-based approach to learning, Patrick has drawn a lot from the Leadership Training Courses (LTC). These courses equip students to communicate effectively with parents, create handbooks and schedules, and lead coaches well.



For most students seeking an online program, flexibility is key. Patrick works hard as a physical education instructor and athletic director for Manitoba high school. For Patrick, being an athletic director was about something deeper, so he wanted an online program that still gave him the time to pour into his roles.

The athletic administration degree with Grace College is built with full-time coaches and athletic directors in mind. In some seasons, sports take over every minute, and there is no practical time to dedicate to a degree; but in other seasons, there is more time to pour into projects. Patrick was grateful for a program that accommodated his lifestyle so that he could continue doing what he loved while still making progress in the degree.



It could be assumed that because the athletic director degree is online, it would be difficult to make connections with classmates. For Patrick, connectivity was something he did not want to give up.

“The craziest thing happened during one of my classes,” he shares. “I saw a name I recognized on the class list, and when the students’ faces were on the screen, I recognized an athlete I had coached twenty-plus years ago! It was so cool to touch base with him and share contact information.”

According to Patrick, the nature of what an athletic director does is community-minded. Giving back is what matters most. Anyone in athletics knows that mindset is what motivates coaches and athletic directors to give their best.

“It is not just about wins and losses, it is about the type of person you are and the person you are becoming,” shares Patrick.

If you have a heart for building up your community through athletics, the athletic director masters program may be perfect for you. Learn more about Grace’s flexible, online athletic director degree today!

Tagged With: Grace Online, School of Business