JSC alum recruited for new sports management position


Agathe Fredette

Andrew Lafrenz

What began as a failed search for a new faculty member of the Business and Economics Department at Johnson State College has shifted into the hiring of a new staff member to serve as the Coordinator of the Sport Management Concentration and Head Coach of the Women’s Soccer team.

According to the chair of the department, Jim Black, “The department had originally requested to create the position of an economist with a background in sport management, but there weren’t many people who had that combination. As we began to build the job description, we realized it’s not a faculty position we need — it’s a staff position in which the person will help recruit students into the program and retain them once they get here . . . We also needed someone who would establish internships for the sport management concentration and develop the program.”

Director of Athletics Jamey Ventura worked alongside Black in building the new job classification and wanted to add additional responsibilities to it. “Simultaneously, we were looking for a women’s soccer coach, and we had a candidate we came across that had really good experience in both, so we combined the positions,” he said.

After completing the job search process, Black and Ventura found the person they were looking for in JSC alum Andrew Lafrenz, who describes himself as an accomplished Division III coach and higher education professional on his resume.

“We’re excited in athletics because he met all of the qualifications and really has the experience that we’re looking for,” said Ventura. “He previously worked at Newbury College, where he had been teaching as an adjunct in the Business Management program. He was also their men’s soccer coach and had success building the program, bringing them to the conference championship game.”

Lafrenz has an abundance of experience in coaching and education at the collegiate level. He graduated from JSC with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2000, and received his masters in education/coaching from Boston University in 2010. In addition, he has received multiple diplomas from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Coaching Academy.

Before he ran the men’s soccer program at Newbury College, Lafrenz coached club soccer at the University of Vermont, was an assistant soccer coach at JSC, and was the Director of Coaching for the North Shore United youth soccer program in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Lafrenz’s ties with JSC played a strong role in attracting him back to the college. “Johnson State has always been a place that I have had a strong connection with and the idea of combining my love of coaching soccer with my passion for higher education was an undeniable draw,” he said.

JSC is prepared for Lafrenz to contribute to the college in multiple facets. “The college itself is having financial difficulties, and this is a person who will have an immediate impact on recruitment and retention, and help us get out of the financial hole that the prior administration had been digging for the last 10 years,” said Black.

“Our coaches, when they are out recruiting, found that a lot of student-athletes are looking for a business degree specializing in sport management,” Ventura added. “Admissions is already seeing our numbers grow for incoming students who want to go into that program.”

Lafrenz seems confident he can work towards living up to the expectations of his new employer. “One of the things I enjoyed about working at Newbury College was my ability to coach my team as well as work as a professor in the Business and Sports Management Programs,” he said. “There is a real need for well educated coaches and youth sport administrators and I’m excited to be a part of that development.”

In addition to his other duties, Lafrenz will also be teaching two classes a semester, and Ventura foresees him working on campus to be a resource for the women’s soccer players. “A lot of the coaching is happening on nights and weekends, so it really pairs well with a job on campus,” he said. “It really helps our student-athletes to have their coach here around the clock to provide support all year long.”

Black has lofty expectations for JSC’s latest addition. “Our president has created the motto ‘high-impact education,’ and that is exactly what we expect out of this guy,” he said. “It is very much a student-oriented position. We wanted and defined the new position as a champion for the program, and now we have our champion.”

As for Lafrenz, he feels he has found the sweet spot. “Returning to Johnson State is very exciting,” he said. “I have enjoyed a varied and successful professional journey based largely on the experiences I enjoyed at JSC. I am honored to be able to help pass on that tradition along to the next generations of JSC graduates.”