Nevada Union’s AD looks to provide supportive, fun experience
Daniel Crossen has an affinity for sports, a passion for coaching and a desire to educate.
It’s why he jumped at the chance to be Nevada Union’s Athletic Director when the position opened up in July.
“I got wind that Jeff Dellis was going to make a change, so I jumped in with both feet and everyday I’m glad I did,” said Crossen, who steps into the role of athletic director for the first time in his career as an educator.
Before coming to Nevada Union, Crossen spent several years as a Bear River High School educator and coach, and also spent time as a teacher on special assignment where he specialized in education technology and helped teachers learn new skills they could implement to engage students and improve student achievement.
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Crossen, who grew up in Morgan Hill and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, was tabbed for the athletic director role in July after Dellis stepped out following five years in the position.
As Crossen makes his way through his first prep sports season at the helm of NU’s Athletic Department, I took some time to chat with him about what he brings to the position and what he hopes to provide for his student athletes.
FORD: What are the core values you hope to bring to this position?
CROSSEN: I’ve always leaned on being an educator first. That’s what we all are in this role, even though I got the athletic director title, I’m an educator first. And, when it comes to values, I look back on what drives me as an educator, and one thing that I’ve always said to my students and to my athletes when I coached them is that, ‘I’m a part of their educational experience.’ Whether it’s in sports or in the classroom. It’s their educational experience. I’ve already had mine. I’ve already gone through high school before. It was many years ago. I’m just a player in theirs and I try to keep that at the forefront of the decisions I make and the vision looking forward. Keeping it student centered, and really it’s the idea that it’s not about me. This role, the things that I’m doing, what we all do here at this school is we try to orchestrate an enriching experience for our students whether they’re athletes or not. That’s how I approach things. We as coaches, we as an athletic department are here to enrich their experience. We also have a role, a job to prepare our young men and women and get them ready for that next stage in life, and sometimes that really dove tails nicely in with what we are doing on the field, in the pool, on the slopes, on the track on the courts. It dovetails nicely with the competitive environment they find themselves in. We’re also mentors in a way that help shape that whole person. We’re there for their highest achievements and some of the lowest lows, and we’re there to support them any way we can, and that’s how I’ve always viewed myself as an educator and that’s what I bring to this position and this athletic program. Luckily there is such a rich history here at Nevada Union and rich tradition and a great staff that is completely locked in with similar values.”
FORD: What is the importance of athletics to a student’s high school experience?
CROSSEN: It’s part and parcel. One of the biggest challenges schools and students face now is being connected to their school and being connected to the small community at their school. Athletics plays a huge, integral role in connecting students to their immediate environment and their community at large, and when they come to see themselves as a part of a whole, things change, your world view changes. And, I think connecting that student to, whether it’s a team or multiple teams, it’s about connecting them to that experience and having them find that value for themselves within that experience is really, really important.
FORD: What are some things ideologically you will take from your predecessor Jeff Dellis?
CROSSEN: I’ve known Jeff for years, and I’ve really got to know him now that I’m filling his big shoes. He’s put in a system that coming into for the first time, I really couldn’t ask for more. This year and right now, what I’ve been doing is really just listening and learning. And, I think that’s really important. I’m not trying to come out and make wholesale changes or looking to put my stamp on things. I need to learn a little bit. I like listening to the coaches that we have on staff and that we’ve had in the past. A lot of people have reached out to me and I’ve had some great conversations with current and past coaches. And, really just kind of find out what works and what doesn’t. What gears we need to shift. What directions we need to take things. But, I think Jeff did an amazing job, and something I will continue that he started is the connection the school has to the community. This community is a unique one and a supportive one and that’s something I want to continue, strengthen and broaden.
FORD: What is some advice you got which you use on a daily basis?
CROSSEN: Honestly, the best advice I got and something I always kind of live by in my own experience is you can’t know everything. Sometimes you take on a new job or new role, and this is a big role, and I’m finding out everyday how big it is and can be — I don’t know everything, I can’t know everything, but one thing I am is hungry to learn and to really make this position my own. And again, driving to provide that experience for students and our student athletes and really enhancing their experience at NU. I will consider my job in relation to my student athletes. Years and years from now, if they look back on their high school life and athletic career in high school and they look back on it positively, and say ‘that was a special time’ then our coaches have done their job and I’ve done my job. We want them to be enthusiastic, we want them to feel encouraged and we want them to have fun.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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