“The SCOPE Sport Administration and Coaching Master's program allowed me to unlock my path and become the head coach I am today.”

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Gabriel Rutledge
Babson Park, FL • USA
Sport Administration and Coaching, MA

Coach John Shoffner invested in me as a basketball player at Webber International University. Years later, I returned to the program to be his assistant coach. When he stepped down, I took the opportunity to apply for the head coaching position. I thought I would be a viable candidate, but I was turned down twice. It felt like a huge setback. 


It was disappointing to realize my basketball knowledge was not enough to be a head coach at the collegiate level. I was told I needed a master's degree for advanced training in organizational leadership. The Sport Administration and Coaching program was flexible and affordable, helping me unlock what seemed impossible.


SCOPE helped me accomplish my dream of being the head basketball coach at my alma mater. It equipped me with the tools to guide my players in their relationships with each other and, most importantly, with Jesus Christ. I have learned valuable skills to lead others on and off the court and teach my players how to deal with their own adversity.

Sport Administration and Coaching, MA
Next Start
Aug. 30
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Dealing with Difficulties

Overcoming adversity has been a part of my story from the beginning. It's hard to imagine anything else. As a child, I grew up in a single-parent home. My dad wasn’t present in our lives. My mom held down two full-time jobs to provide for all six children. She worked during the day at the hospital and overnight at a retirement home to make ends meet for our family.

I have four older sisters and a younger brother. My older sister Nicole took care of us when mom was away. She was that parent figure at a time when we needed someone. While mom worked to provide for us, Nicole filled the gap at home, caring for us with our schoolwork and keeping our family going. As a child in a situation like that, you really don't realize the sacrifice a parent makes for you. Looking back now I can really appreciate what it meant for her to sacrifice so much for us.

"I've always thought a setback is the first step in a comeback. A comeback happens in sports. And comebacks happen in life. We face adversity all the time." - BJU Coach Denny Scott

Coming Back From Tragedy

As I was going into my senior year of college, I got a call at work one day that my nephew had been struck by a car and killed. I was shocked and didn't know how to process this news. He was only four years old. I felt lost. I didn’t understand. How could a little child have to go through that? How could my family have to go through that? I realized how quickly life can change. It made me pause and think about the relationships in my life.

Despite this unexpected tragedy, my nephew’s death allowed our family to reconnect with each other. We were brought together again after years of growing apart. That moment also had a massive impact on my faith. I began soul-searching and questioning things I hadn't thought about very much. It pushed and motivated me to find men I could learn from who could help me grow as a Christian.


Learning Life Lessons From "Coach"

While I was a student at Webber International University, I played for Coach John Shoffner. He was a tough coach, but good at developing us. He was a father figure who showed us how to grow from our mistakes. He taught us the value of family and hard work. 

Years later, I came back as an assistant coach and worked under him. He really took me under his wing and helped me develop as a man. When he stepped down, I took that opportunity to apply for the head coaching job. I thought I had what it takes. But I was turned down, twice. 

Turning a Setback Into a Comeback

When I didn’t get the head coaching job, I was disappointed. They kept saying one thing. I needed a Master’s Degree to get the training that head coaches need at the level Webber (and most colleges) operated at. I had the basketball knowledge but I lacked the knowledge of organizational leadership and the administrative skills to run a large program that involved more than a knowledge of the game.

Around the time I found out I wasn’t going to get the job, I was introduced to Dr. Tony Miller at a coaching conference. We exchanged information and I saw him post on social media about the SCOPE Sport Administration and Coaching Master's program. I decided to reach out to him to get more information. This led to the start of an amazing journey and a great friendship. As I explored further, I felt like this was the program I needed to unlock this obstacle. But I had a full-time job, and I knew I didn’t have 40 hours a week to spend in a classroom. I needed a flexible program like SCOPE offered and one that was affordable, especially because my wife was also getting her Master’s degree at the same time.

The program was what I needed; it allowed me to do my job during the day and my schoolwork in the evenings. I worked nights and weekends, fitting in my classes and assignments to finish my Master’s in Sport Management online through SCOPE.


Winning On (and Off) the Court

As an assistant coach, I had begun to grow in my ability to build intentional relationships both on and off the court. But it wasn't until I got my Master’s that I really learned the skills I depend on today to lead others both on and off the court. 

The SCOPE program through Bob Jones University equipped me with the tools I needed to guide my players in their relationships with each other–and, most importantly–with Jesus Christ. It gave me the skills I needed to better connect with my players, assistant coaches, students and faculty.

"The whole team, all 13 of us, we're all his kids. He puts his heart and soul into this program." Jovon Rosse, Student-Athlete, Webber International

When I was rejected for the head coaching job twice, it felt like a huge setback. SCOPE helped me unlock what I thought was impossible and achieve my dream of coaching young people in the game I love. Today, I feel I can better teach my players that adversity can be a positive driver to help you grow in ways you never thought possible.

He's a role model for these student-athletes. He has a purpose here in making these young men and women go on to become something bigger and better than here. We made a great choice in making him the head coach.

James Simpson, Asst. Athletic Director, Webber International University
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