DAPHNE, Ala. – United States Sports Academy alumnus Grant Watley said his Academy master’s degree taught him more than just the “x’s and o’s” of coaching, which he says has contributed to the advancement of his career by recently being named head cross country and track and field coach at Midland University in Fremont, Neb.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Watley earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports coaching in 2011. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in health and fitness with a minor in coaching from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
“The United States Sports Academy does a great job of making each and every class practical to the sports world,” Watley said.
“Coaching is a lot of work outside of the x’s and o’s with the amount of recruiting and administrative work that is demanded, and the Academy helped immensely in preparing for that aspect of my profession.
“I chose the Academy because it focused every class on sport, which made the degree extremely relevant to my professional field of coaching. Being able to have instructors who worked with you to make each course relevant to your career made me more prepared as I entered the coaching world.”
At Midland University, Watley is in charge of every aspect of the men’s and women’s programs and also holds teaching responsibilities within the university.
“I enjoy working with college student-athletes on a daily basis during a very formative time in their life,” he said.
Watley was hired at Midland in July after spending five years as the head coach of cross country, associate head track and field coach and the recruiting coordinator for the University of Sioux Falls (USF) in South Dakota. In addition to his athletic duties, he also served as an adjunct instructor of business and entrepreneurship at the university. He also co-owned and operated a running specialty store called 605 Running Co.
“During my time at USF, the cross country team grew from 20 runners my first year to 38 by my fourth season and my men’s cross country team finished eighth at the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championships in only our third year in the NCAA, which is still the highest finish any athletic team at USF has had at the NCAA level,” Watley said.
“Working at USF prepared me for coaching at Midland University in a lot of ways. Both schools are small private universities where coaches must function in multiple roles across their programs and the university. The past two years, I’ve owned (with my two brothers and my dad) and operated a running specialty store in Sioux Falls. At the store, I focused on developing our race management offerings and created a private coaching branch of the business.
Prior to his work at USF, Watley worked as a volunteer assistant track and field and cross country coach at the University of Nebraska. He also spent time working as a track and field coach at Lincoln (Neb.) Lutheran High School (LLHS) for five years. While there, the team won the 2008 boys’ track and field state title. He also became the first LLHS coach in school history to take both the boys and girls teams to the state championship meet in the same season.
Watley’s accomplishments also include recognition as a USA Track and Field Level One Coach; Road Runners Club of America Level 1 Certified Coach; and US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Track and Field Technical Certification, Field Program Management Certification, and Coaching Certification.
“We’re excited to welcome Grant into the Midland Athletics family,” said Dave Gillespie, Midland University Director of Athletics. “He is the perfect person to lead and build championship Cross Country and Track and Field athletes.”
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.