One of Atlanta’s most decorated Olympic athletes has returned home to his alma mater.
Adam Nelson was named the new athletic director at Lovett Jan. 14. He will replace interim AD Ted Gilbreath, effective July 1 when the 2019-20 academic year concludes.
Nelson, who graduated from Lovett in 1993, represented the United States in three Summer Olympics as a shot putter on the track and field team. He earned a silver medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, before earning a gold medal in Athens, Greece, in 2004. He also participated in the 2008 Games in Beijing, China.
Nelson has spent more than 15 years in the sports management and business administration industries, recently serving as the CFO/COO at The D10, a Houston-based company that runs athletic competitions for executive athletes in nine United States markets. The business has raised more than $14.5 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment.
Nelson has also worked with the Doyle Management Group and the Athens Orthopaedic Group, which he helped launch and served as the director of a new sports performance and rehabilitation center in Georgia. He has also served as a sports commentator for NBC Sports.
Nelson was a multi-sport varsity athlete at Lovett and the collegiate level at Dartmouth College. He also has an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
“We are excited to welcome Adam back to Lovett,” Head of School Meredyth M. Cole said. “Adam is uniquely qualified to oversee Lovett’s athletic program. He brings significant experience in sports management (and) team building and an appreciation for the role of athletics in the lives of children and its importance in life. As a Lovett graduate, he has lived the school’s whole-child philosophy.”
Nelson became aware of the opportunity July.
“Being from Atlanta and an alum of the school, I still have good friends and acquaintances connected to Lovett,” he said. “I was with D10 at the time after spending years as a competitive athlete. When I transitioned out of playing sports full-time, I ventured into various for-profit opportunities but always connected to my sports performance and developing athletes because that’s what I’m passionate about.
“I enjoyed that process and have a background in business so those skills translate into being an athletic director. The more I researched the position at Lovett, the more comfortable I felt about excelling in it. I never lost the desire to learn and grow working with coaches and administrators for more than 15 years.”
Lovett offers interscholastic competition from grades seven through 12 with more than 80% of students competing in one or more of the 69 teams fielded in 16 sports. The varsity teams have won more than 100 state championships in football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, golf, tennis, cross country, track and field, volleyball and wrestling.
“The community Lovett has is extraordinary,” Nelson said. “We have a strong history of academic excellence, fine arts and athletics. I’m excited about the opportunity. We have a great team of people and amazing history. There’s also an opportunity to evolve the role of the athletic department in the greater Atlanta community.”
The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) announced its reclassification for the 2020-21 through 2021-22 academic years with Lovett moving from Class 3A to 2A.
“We were a Class 2A program when I was there,” Nelson said. “The level of competition will still be great because athletics in Georgia are outstanding. There’s an opportunity to differentiate Lovett from the other private schools in our area with the decisions we make in our athletic department over the next couple of years.
“They’re all great schools that give great opportunities to its students, but the education and platform that Lovett provided for me to attend an Ivy League school and become an Olympian is special. I don’t think there’s a better alternative in Atlanta for the development of the entire child academically and athletically than Lovett.”
Nelson also notes that the youth sports landscape has changed since his time as a prep athlete with the Lions.
“The professionalization of youth sports has created a massive challenge for all sports programs,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges we’ll have to tackle culturally. We want to support a multi-sport, well-rounded athlete. Our job as athletic administrators and coaches in an academic environment is to help protect and develop the athlete for the long term.”