William Woods University has long enjoyed a reputation as a university where the education outside the classroom is just as important as inside. Men’s assistant basketball coach and academic learning specialist Terry Nash is an embodiment of that philosophy. In fact, you might say Nash instructs in two “classrooms” – the basketball court and at the WWU Academic Success Center.
“I was never the 4.0 student, 3.8, 3.5, 3.2 student,” said Nash of his college years at Northern Michigan University. “I did have my great semesters where I had a 3.1, but I also had bad semesters that I had a 2.0. That is why I connect with these students because I was one of them at one point.”
The decision to come to William Woods as a volunteer assistant basketball coach, and excelling in his role, paved the way for Nash to land an additional career job at the university as an academic specialist. His dual roles make him a valuable resource at The Woods, which was made possible by an important relationship Nash developed while an undergraduate.
Receiving a scholarship to play basketball at Northern Michigan, Nash remained at the school for three years as an assistant coach alongside current WWU Head Basketball Coach Charles Belt. Belt got an assistant coach job at Northern Michigan during Nash’s junior year.
“As soon as Coach Belt got to Northern Michigan, we clicked,” Nash said. “He helped guide me in coaching, but was alsothere as a mentor, partner, co-worker, and brother. When he got the job here at William Woods, I already knew I wanted to go with him. I believed in his vision and his coaching style.”
So, Nash packed all his stuff from Michigan and moved to Missouri.
“I took a leap of faith,” Nash said. “I came down here knowing that they do not pay assistant coaches here. I came down here with no job.”
The underlying loyalty and brotherhood Nash had for Belt brought him to join the staff as a volunteer. Then the position at WWU’s Academic Success Center opened, and Belt knew that Nash was a perfect fit.
“I think the real winner here is William Woods University,” Belt said. “To add a person like Terry Nash to our community and university is a homerun. Yes, initially it was basketball that brought him here, but he wants to see all students at William Woods succeed and have a great experience. Which makes him that much more valuable to the university.”
As an academic specialist, any student can come to Nash for academic advice. He begins with addressing time management, mapping out student schedules and figuring out additional areas that students can be successful in their academics.
Nash shares study tips with his students, reviews grades to explore opportunities for raising student GPA’s, covers stress management, and test preparation to help build better habits for students. The success center provides tutoring each day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with four tutors and study groups for students to succeed.
Academic Success Center Director of Advising Katie Belenchia met Nash at his interview for the position of learning specialist. She describes having Nash as part of the Academic Success Center like finding the missing piece to a puzzle – the center was looking for someone who possessed a “coach-like” personality, who could motivate and encourage students without parenting them. All qualities that Nash has.
“Terry is one of the most grateful human beings I know, which is humbling,” Belenchia said. “He has a youthful personality and he’s willing to learn, to listen and to help. These combined attributes add up to an excellent addition to the Academic Success/Advising team.”
An illustration of Nash’s efforts can be found in the men’s basketball team grade point average. When not on the court, Coach Belt and the assistant coaches prepare scouting reports for upcoming games. Nash’s additional focus is making sure that players are succeeding in the classroom. His hard work has helped the men’s basketball team increase the team GPA from 2.89 to a 3.37.
“It is definitely a bridge between the classroom and the court because our players come to me and ask questions about academics and not just basketball,” Nash said. “It is basically the culture we are trying to preach. You are a student-athlete and the word ‘student’ comes first. In order to play basketball, you have to earn good grades to stay eligible.”
Nash’s influence resonates with junior guard Ian Hodges ’21, who followed Belt and Nash from Northern Michigan to William Woods. Hodges met Nash when Nash finished his year of eligibility as a player and Hodges came up to visit the school for the first time.
“We always had a big brother and little brother relationship on and off the court,” Hodges said. “He taught me to keep going and keep pushing. He saw a lot of himself in me when I was a freshman and told me to trust the process and keep working.”
Coaching basketball at night and working as an academic learning specialist creates a balancing act for Nash. Currently, he works in the Academic Success Center each day from 8-4:30. He then coaches basketball from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. It’s a busy schedule that is not going to make him rich any time soon, but it is all relative – especially considering his first coaching job paid less than $5,000 a year.
“Basketball is the reason why I came to Missouri,” Nash said. “I am happy to teach basketball under any circumstances, but also thankful for the job that the academic success center has provided me.”
And William Woods is thankful as well – to have Terry Nash a part of our campus community!
For more on the WWU Academic Success Center, please visit https://www.williamwoods.edu/student_experience/undergraduate_student_experience/student_services/academic_success_center.html