Evangel Profile

Donovan Nelson: Assistant professor of Kinesiology

March 6, 2013


Donovan Nelson, assistant professor of kinesiology, graduated from Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, in 1998 and received a Master of Education in Sports Administration in 2003 from Wichita State University. Over the course of his career, he has been an educator and coach at the secondary level, an assistant principal/athletic director, a college instructor and head softball coach, and a graduate assistant. “Throughout all of this, the greatest enjoyment comes from working with young people, ensuring them they can be successful, then watching them step out on their own to realize their own capabilities,” Nelson says. “I believe in empowering a student, and I have worked to do that through my teaching career.”

Nelson has been a faculty member at Evangel University since 2007. He and his wife, Glynis, have three children, Brighton, Rigley and Adleigh. The family attends Life360 Church in Springfield, Missouri.


Kinesiology is a growing field. What are Evangel grads out there doing?

We have graduates of our department working in professional soccer, working in sport marketing, working in sport event management, working as physical therapists, running city parks and recreation departments, teaching and coaching in the public schools, working in corporate fitness as personal trainers and following other pursuits in our fields.

What sets Evangel’s Kinesiology Department apart from similar programs at other universities?

It’s important to recognize the various areas within kinesiology. It can encompass recreation and sport management, exercise science and personal training, physical therapy, physical education, health education and many others. I believe our students have a unique opportunity, speaking on behalf of our physical education program, because our students are given hands-on teaching opportunities long before they are placed in their second practicum or student-teaching experience.

We have an arrangement with a local homeschool coop, where they sign-up their children to earn their physical education credit through our methods courses. Evangel students are the classroom teachers, planning, teaching, evaluating and monitoring the students. They are able to be the primary teachers of a designed activity at least five times per semester. We also have the same arrangement for our elementary and secondary methods classes with local Christian schools whose students come to us for their physical education credits. Before Evangel physical education students report as student teachers, they will have planned, prepared, executed and received evaluation on nearly 20 classroom experiences as the primary instructor. That is unmatched at any other university, locally.

What is your favorite thing about working with Evangel University students?

The best part about working at Evangel is knowing that I’m doing God’s will. I love the students here because they are good young people, striving to achieve professional success through God’s work in their lives. They want to serve God and others and they do so by choosing education. I’m just blessed to be part of their lives.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

I would tell all future Crusaders to make your academic preparation a priority because it will be foundational to working in your respective fields. However, even though one makes academics a priority, and is successful, it’s not what separates them from other job candidates. Find what skills employers want and work diligently to achieve them in order to separate yourself from the group. And recognize how great a place Evangel is; capitalize on the opportunity to grow spiritually, as well, making yourself a greater influence in God’s kingdom.

What is new in your department?

Our Recreation program has been completely rewritten to meet the needs in the job market for our students, graduates and future graduates.  We have rewritten our degree and added the very popular component, sport management.  The title of our program is Recreation and Sport Management and includes the necessary coursework and practicum experiences to prepare a student to work in the sport industry.  Areas of employment can include professional sports, intercollegiate athletics, campus recreation, parks and recreation departments, non-profit sport organizations and even corporate marketing organizations representing sport organizations.  This is a fast growing field, and we now offer a degree that will put our students in front of numerous employers in the sport industry, opening doors for employment after they complete their degree.

What are some of the students in your department involved in?

We currently have a former student working in sales and marketing for the Houston Dynamo, a professional soccer team in the MLS.  We also have a current student interning with IMG, the largest sport marketing group in the world.  He interns in Florida working with athlete preparation for the upcoming NFL draft.  We have students interning in the Springfield – Greene County Parks Department, as well as the Boys & Girls Club and the Springfield Cardinals.  This is the beginning of our revised degree, and I’m so excited to see what God is going to do with our students as they pursue their passion.

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