One team, one goal: Nicholls officially welcomes Terrell as athletics director
Jonathan “JT” Terrell’s first official day as Nicholls State University’s new athletics director is not until July 6, but the Colonel alum said his work already began the day he was named to the position.
This morning, Nicholls hosted a press conference in Stopher Gymnasium to officially welcome Terrell to his new role.
Terrell said that the opportunity to work for a place that holds such a special place in his heart is extraordinary. He described the university as a unique institution and a “diamond being polished.”
“To stand here today is an honor and a privilege…This job is so special to me because I left Slidell, La., at the age of 18 years old and was blessed enough to be adopted by this community as one of their own,” Terrell said. “Everything I’ve been through in my life has led me to this point. I have never taken the easy road to get here.”
Terrell steps into the position following the departure of Athletics Director Matt Roan, who accepted the director of athletics title at Eastern Kentucky University earlier this year.
Terrell is entering an athletics program that has seen some of the most impressive success in its history, including back-to-back Southland Conference Championships and three straight playoff appearances from the football program, a 2018 SLC Tournament title and first-ever NCAA Tournament playoff bid from the women’s basketball team, a SLC title in 2018 from the softball program and a 2017-2018 SLC title from the men’s basketball team.
For Terrell, today was about “continuing the climb” of Nicholls’ athletics department.
“When I talk about the climb, I need you to understand this: the C is for championships, on and off the field. The L is how we will lead with best interests of student-athletes in all programs. The I stands for integrity, and I’ll let that speak for itself. The M is for movement – the growing of the department financially through our brand and [advancement] opportunities by being creative in our unique landscape. The B is for bedazzlement – bringing impressive excitement to our program,” Terrell said.
Terrell said he believes that if the athletics department can keep this vision in mind in everything it does, it will be “one team” with “one goal” in mind. While such a process starts with the department, he said, its reach has to extend beyond that.
“The process is about people and relationships. Cultivating relationships is something that we have to do and continue to do, and it’s what brings our community closer together,” Terrell said. “To the student-athletes, it starts with you. We have to build a foundation of support of one another…To the athletic department and all our coaches, I will build a …relationship with each of you. I would never ask you to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself.”
Terrell is certainly no stranger to the Nicholls family.
The 1998 graduate played quarterback and wide receiver for the Colonels from 1993 to 1996 before working as a student assistant from 1997 to 1998. He spent six years coaching high school football before returning again as a quarterbacks coach in 2004.
Since 2005, Terrell has been actively involved in fundraising efforts with the Colonel Athletic Department as president of the First Down Club.
His wife, Taryn, is a 1999 graduate of Nicholls, while his daughter Katelyn and son-in-law Darius Coleman are 2019 and 2018 graduates, respectively.
In addition, he has two daughters, Meagan and Makena, who are sophomores at the university. Meagan plays soccer for the Colonels, and his nephew Tyrease Terrell is a member of the basketball program. His youngest son, Jacob, is a “die-hard Colonel fan.”
Terrell said the support he has received from the community he calls home since the announcement of his new title has been humbling.
“I’ve received letters and cards of people that I’ve impacted and had no idea because it was me just being me,” Terrell said. “I think that’s probably the most humbling thing is the support: to have my brother fly in from California, my sister from North Carolina, and family support is different, but when you have community members that you didn’t even think [of], and they show up here…humbling is the word.”
A former student-athlete himself, Terrell plans to use his experiences to help student-athletes take ownership in their university.
“The biggest deal is for them to realize where they are and what they have. Being a student athlete…we had some hard times, but I would not change them for the world,” Terrell said. “I keep saying one team, one goal because that’s what I’ll preach until I’m no longer here: the fact that they’ve got to get on board to know that we have to support each other within.”
Terrell recalls a time as a student football coach when the Colonels were in a crucial game to make it to the playoffs, and only around 500 fans were in attendance. He said the realization left him “crushed.”
It was then that Terrell knew he wanted people to recognize the value that Nicholls has.
“That was probably the beginning of me going, ‘Oh no, they don’t get it. I’m going to make sure people understand what this little place means to so many people that are out here working their tail off, and they want to be supported,’” Terrell said.
Terrell said the key to bringing in players that contribute to the continuing success of Nicholls’ athletic programs begins with the right coaches, facilities and players.
Above all, it comes from players who want to be part of the Colonel family.
“There’s always two types of people here at Nicholls State: there’s people who want to be here, and people who end up here, and I want a bunch of people that want to be here,” Terrell said.