GNAC Administrator Spotlight: Seattle Pacific's Jackson Stava
Jackson Stava was named Seattle Pacific athletic director last summer after a long career in admissions and athletics at GNAC affiliate member Azusa Pacific.
Jackson Stava was named Seattle Pacific athletic director last summer after a long career in admissions and athletics at GNAC affiliate member Azusa Pacific.
Jackson Stava
Jackson Stava

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation. 

Name: Jackson Stava
Role: Athletic Director
School: Azusa Pacific (Both undergraduate & graduate)
Hometown: Arroyo Grande, Calif.

Why Did You Decide To Work In Collegiate Athletics: To be honest, I never thought that I would end up working in college athletics. I went to school to be a youth pastor and for years thought that would be where I landed. As I experienced working with college athletes, however, and coaches in my first role as an admissions counselor, I fell in love with the student athlete experience and the amazing influence that coaches and administrators had on the lives of student athletes.

Through a few years and multiple roles on campus working with student athletes, I realized that the desire I had, which had caused me to be a ministry major, was a desire to be a part of the transformation and maturation of people. In athletics, I had found the venue through which I would be able to do just that. I believe that college athletics can be a laboratory for life; and am honored and humbled that in this role I have the opportunity and responsibility to be a piece, no matter how large or small, of students discovering their calling, their vocation and the next steps in their life.

Who Has Influenced You Most As A Professional - Either As An Inspiration, A Mentor Or Philosophically: So many people have impacted me in this profession it is hard to list, and while this may seem like a way to get away from the question; anyone who can hold in perfect balance the deep and intentional care for student athletes while relentlessly seeking competitive excellence, has impacted me.

Philosophically, coaches such as Pat Summit, John Wooden, Victor Santa Cruz, and my former coach Dwight MacDonald have all impacted me greatly. From the lessons on life, to the focus on details, to the personal growth moments in my own life, all of these coaches epitomize in some way why I feel called to this profession.

Also, I would be remiss to not mention my former boss, Gary Pine at Azusa Pacific, as a mentor in this profession. Gary brought me in and intentionally mentored me from the first day I worked in APU Athletics. Gary never shied away from conversations about philosophy, growth and development with me. Without those moments there is no way I would be prepared today to be an athletic director.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome As A Professional: Initially, my response to this would be overcoming the obstacle of the NCAA membership process while at Azusa Pacific. I entered athletics at APU during the first year of their transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. To take an established, and very successful, program and instituiton, and be a part of that place unlearning all of their learned behaviors and then relearning them within the NCAA construct is a challenge. I had great support and leadership from my AD and the staff on campus, but that was a significant accomplishment.

Secondly, I think it is fair to mention that one thing I feel I am always learning how to overcome is the pressure to allow wins and losses to be the only data point that illustrated success. In many Division II institutions, and certainly at Seattle Pacific, winning and losing are extremely important, but they should not and cannot be the only data point for success. The growth of student athletes, their experiences, development of coaches and many other things are equally as important to winning, yet holding those things in perfect balance is something I am always seeking to understand more clearly.

What Does Division II Mean To You: Division II means many things to me: balance, development, excellence, and care. I feel that Division II is a place which allows student-athletes to compete at an extremely high level, but not having to sacrifice their desire for the pursuit of athletic excellence. It does so in a context which allows the focus to be simultaneously on the competition today and the preparation for life. The academic excellence and ability to be involved on campuses shown by Division II makes is a place where I feel student athletes can truly thrive holistically.

Extracurricular Activities: I love spending time with my family. I have a fantastic wife Melissa; a thoughtful, curious, and insightful 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter Darby, and in March we will welcome a new son to that mix! Being new to Seattle, it has been great to spend time with them exploring the city, seeing parks, going for walks, enjoying the great food in Seattle and establishing this as home.

Best Advice You Would Give To Student-Athletes: To prospective student athletes, above all else, pick the institution where you feel you will be given the best opportunity to graduate as a young woman or man ready to impact the world. Your time in college and on a team are times to harness your gifts, your talents and your abilities and figure out how you can be the best spouse, employee, parent, friend and employer possible. For all of us, there will be a last day of being a competitive athlete, so find the place where you feel that the coaches, administrators, faculty and staff will impact your life for the better.

To current student athletes, lean into every opportunity. So many people would love to be a college athlete and be in your shoes. Do not miss a moment. Enjoy each practice, each bus ride, each time you get new gear, each game and every interaction you have with the people on your campus. There are great administrators, athletic trainers and coaches wanting to get to know you. Take advantage of all that your experience can be. Also, find a way to start giving back now. It's never too early to practice generosity, hospitality and service. You have been given an opportunity only a few receive, enjoy it, be grateful and give back.

If You Could Spend The Day With Only One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would Be (And Why)?: I guess the 'right' answer in college athletics is John Wooden. I would love to soak in his wisdom if given the opportunity, as very few women or men have had such enriching perspective on the intersection of athletics and life as Coach Wooden.

However, I think I would like to spend parts of the day with different folks. I would love to spend some hours with Abraham Lincoln discussing leadership, character and conviction. I would love to spend some hours with Bill Clinton discussing engaging people, communication styles, and how to own a room, as I don't know if anyone has ever owned a room like President Clinton.

I would love to spend some hours with Kanye West trying to understand that fine line between relevance, genius and art. Kanye fascinates me, I have never been totally sure as to why, but would love to get some insight into his life. Finally, I would love to spend some time with Martin Luther King Jr., and hear about sacrifice, justice and reconciliation. Also, at the end of the day I might be mentally spent, so maybe end the day with Bill Murray, just for kicks.

Favorite Sports Teams: Seattle Pacific Falcons of course! Also the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Lakers. I also love watching tennis, golf and soccer.

Favorite Athlete: I love Kobe Bryant. Having grown up in Southern California, the last 20 years of my life have been spent cheering on Kobe. He has been central to my sports life as a fan. I admire the intensity of his work ethic, his tireless pursuit of excellence and the exceedingly high bar of success that he raises for all whom surround him. I know many dislike him, but he is a Laker for life, thanks Mamba!

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: I think my most memorable sports moment was the first professional game I remember seeing. I was in seventh grade and my dad and I went to a Sunday Night Football game in San Diego to watch the Chargers play the Seahawks in Jack Murphy Stadium. I don't remember who won, don't remember any plays, but remember falling in love with sports, with the experience at the game and with the family moments sports can provide.