Aug. 22, 2022
NFL assistant coach teaches Center for Sport Leadership class
Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Aaron Curry taught Foundations of Coaching to distance-learning students this summer.
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Aaron Curry is no stranger to game plans.
He studied them religiously as an All-American linebacker at Wake Forest and during his four-year NFL career.
Now in his third season as an assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks, Curry helps prepare game plans as the 2022 NFL season approaches.
When he was asked to join the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU as an adjunct professor to teach an online summer course, Foundations of Coaching, Curry went to work on a different kind of game plan.
“I took time to create my lessons ahead of time,” he said. “I was actually able to get four weeks ahead. At the beginning of the week, I reviewed and rehearsed every presentation. I’d like to make sure that each class was informational and impactful.”
“From our first meeting about the class, Aaron was laser focused on student impact,” said Brendan Dwyer, Ph.D., director of distance learning for the Center for Sport Leadership. “He wanted their experience to not only be educational but foundational professional growth and development.”
Facing a computer screen with eight eager graduate students staring back at you may not be as intimidating as standing at the line of scrimmage seconds before the ball is snapped, but the pressure is real. Curry handled it like a pro.
“I loved class with Coach Curry,” said Karen Shaddock, graduate student and head women’s lacrosse coach at Stevens Institute of Technology. “It was really interesting to learn that they are doing some of the same player development at the professional level as we are at the college level and others [are] at the high school level. It’s refreshing to know that no matter what level you are at, coaching still comes down to the relationships you have with your players. I felt like Coach Curry also had that relationship with his students, and we all were able to grow together this semester.”
“I really appreciated coach’s insights and openness to sharing his personal experiences in class,” said Emmanuel Mathis, graduate student and elementary school principal and coach in Atlanta. “Being a coach at the highest level added a level of buy-in because of how public his position is.”
For Curry, teaching and coaching are similar, if not identical. It’s about progress and development.
“I really enjoyed seeing the students become excited about sharing their coaching philosophies,” he said. “The best classes were the ones in which the students were required to engage one another.”
Curry had a good idea what would resonate with the distance-learning students because he was one of them. Curry graduated from the CSL’s online program in 2019, earning his M.Ed. in Sport Leadership. He learned about VCU’s program while coaching at UNC Charlotte in 2015. Shortly after, he met Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D., executive director of CSL, who encouraged him to enroll.
“Aaron was a no-brainer to teach for us,” LeCrom said. “We knew how much he valued education from his time in our program, and through following his career. It's very clear he not only believes in excellence on the field, but more importantly, development of players as people. That transformational approach to coaching is exactly what we need in this course, and he's certainly delivered.”
CSL’s Distance Learning program is a synchronous online curriculum designed for professionals working full time in sports to earn their master’s degree in the evenings in about 24 months. “The Distance Learning program is incredible. It provides students and professors flexibility and convenience,” said Curry, who is a proud graduate, often tweeting about the program to his more than 27,000 followers. “CSL is such an impactful program that empowers and equips students with a practical skillset to go into the sport world.”
Just as he seeks development from the Seahawk players he coaches, Curry is looking for areas he can improve as a professor.
“I want to be more creative in encouraging student engagement.”
Once the NFL season is over, Curry will return to his teaching game plan and build off the success of this summer’s course, developing new strategies that will lead to student success.
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