At Jones International University (JIU) I was an anomaly - one lone soldier in a sea of Academics
I’d been working on demilitarizing my persona, and JIU gave me the space to do it. Jones was the first fully accredited online University (fun fact, the owner also owned the radio show ‘Delilah’) in the country, and I was the Director of Information Architecture and Web Design. We were leading the way in online education, and every challenge was new. We developed models for online academic advising, streamlined online application and registration processes, and quickly moved into the corporate space, creating custom education programs for private and public clients.
I led the effort to make our coursework available to all active and reserve military through the Military Education Program, and am pleased that we were able to get active duty and military soldiers business and project management training to help them transition into civilian life armed to compete for a high quality job. We provided a ton of technical training and offered several professional credential programs.
My time at Jones had me knee deep in technical leadership. Our systems were new, and we were releasing improvements constantly. Any outages directly impacted our students ability to succeed, and we had to meet the high standard required for University Accreditation. The experience gave me the opportunity to fully transition from a military leadership style to a civilian leadership style, and my coaching changed too. I learned to slow down, even in crisis, so we could make clearheaded decisions. I learned that there would be people who offended me and who I disagreed with, and I that I needed to put that aside and listen anyway. Academia couldn’t be more different than the military.
The funny thing to me about that job was that I occupied a Director level position at an Accredited University, and I hadn’t finished college myself. My takeaway from this is that there are many different paths to success, and that you can step in a different direction and still achieve your goals.
Over the next few years I farmed myself out to companies in nearly every industry
I became an expert in the fields of User Experience and Information Architecture, and I had a first hand views of the positive and negative impacts Corporate America can make in a community. I took assignments in Albany NY, Louisville Kentucky, Wilmington Delaware, Manhattan NY, Rahway NJ, and Craigavon - a town in Northern Ireland just outside of Belfast. I worked with research partners in the Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, and the U.K. I led international design teams with developers and designers from India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, and Japan.
Along the way, I coached rugby whenever and wherever I could. As my skills grew, the teams I worked with grew. I eventually made my way into the USA coaching pool, and was an assistant coach and program manager for the first official USA Rugby Girls National Team (U-19), an assistant coach to the USA U-23 National Team, and an assistant coach to the USA-A team.
I settled in Philly for several years. I had all sorts of great consulting gigs, a spacious house in the burbs, and I was the Head Women’s Rugby Coach at Temple University, 2x Division II National Champions. I gave up my car and became a bicycle commuter. Life was generally pretty good, but for the lingering aches and pains. I was on my way to winning back to back National All Star Championships with a regional all star team and the future seemed clear. I would see my world turned upside down again, as I met my future wife.
She was a league administrator and we coached rival college teams in the same division.
We worked together on regional all star teams and I fell in love. She is the smartest, most decent, most capable person I have the privilege to know, and we have been married once out of country, registered a civil union in one US state, a domestic partnership in another US state, and finally had a marriage in a third US state, after full marriage equality was legalized. Finding her is the greatest achievent of my life, and no ‘about me’ would be complete without my gratitude for her never ending support and encouragement.
After I had some success coaching Temple University, two great things happened. First - I was offered a position coaching the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby team, the city’s Division 1 Women’s Club. Second - I was invited to join World Rugby’s Training and Education team as a USA Rugby Coach Educator.
It was a step up in my coaching career, and a new learning opportunity.
Coaching adults is very different than coaching youth or college athletes, and it’s very different than leading military troops.
Your only authority is the authority the team gives you, and it’s fragile. The team holds you accountable, not a club sports or athletic department. The folks you coach day after day are your clients and your customers, and you’ve got to find away to get a this group of diverse adults functioning as a unit. Under my leadership the “Philly Women” thrived. We won regional titles and made it through to the Elite 8 in the Division 1 National Club Championship. We had a successful developmental side and our players were coaching college and youth teams all over Philly. I was making great money as a consultant, and I was traveling all over the country and the world coaching and delivering coach education. I’d found my life partner, and I was well respected in my community.
I was given an opportunity to serve as Head Coach of the USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate All Americans, and was accruing valuable experience and frequent flyer miles. Then one day Colorado came calling and asked me to come back. Literally.
During the Philly days my spine condition escalated, and I had two more surgeries. Bicycle commuting wasn’t working anymore so I found myself working from home remotely. It was a seemless transition, as more and more companies are seeing significant cost savings with a remote workforce.
When I received a call from the Director of Rugby at the City of Glendale, a city within a city in Denver, asking me to come and coach a fully funded women’s rugby program in ‘Rugbytown USA’, I couldn’t resist. We immediately flew out to take a look at my San Luis Valley property, and made a spot decision to move. Ginger had just finished her Masters in Public Health and was winding up her PhD work. As a remote worker, it didn’t matter if I was in Philly or Colorado. Glendale was a high performing team with great athletes and great facilities and we couldn’t resist. In August of 2010 we packed up the car, threw four dogs and a friend in the back seat, put our bikes and kayak on the roof rack, and made the move.