Tennessee Temple is a Christian liberal arts college and seminary in Chattanooga. Staff File Photo.
In four years at Tennessee Temple University, Kenrick Liburd has coached women's volleyball and basketball and men's and women's soccer. He's been the constant in the athletic department during that time, and now he's overseeing it.
The 33-year-old Liburd has been promoted to athletic director for the National Christian College Athletic Association schoo. While he will continue as women's basketball coach, he's turning the men's soccer team over to Ignacio "Nacho" Ortiz.
Ortiz, 28, was the associate head coach last fall after serving two years as a graduate assistant following his one season as a Temple player in a move from Argentina. The Ecuador native has a master's degree in ministry from TTU and is working on another master's in Christian education.
"I really believe God put me here," Ortiz said, "to work in the lives of the players and in the community. We already have started doing soccer clinics for kids every Saturday.
"I think I am taking over the team at a great time. Coach Liburd has been building it up, and they have a foundation. Now we just need to bring in people to make it better" -- filling in gaps and increasing depth, he explained.
"I really think he's ready," Liburd said. "He's a great guy with a great heart for ministry. He has a great aptitude for learning, and his tactical knowledge of soccer is incredible. He also has knowledge of our school and the program, and he has a great rapport with our players yet still pushes them to get better.
"I think he's the perfect guy to take the program to the next level."
Even before officially becoming the AD, Liburd has been instrumental in adding staff and resources for what he acknowledged was a "skeleton crew" when he arrived.
"We are pleased to have Coach Liburd as our athletic director," TTU president Steven Echols said Thursday. "He has excellent administrative skills to manage the complexities of our athletic program, along with a great heart for the student athlete. He is passionate about our mission to see lives transformed for the glory of God.
"We believe that under his leadership our program will go to an even higher level."
Said Liburd: "This place has such a heritage, and I think we have started to build on that in our professionalism across the board and the level of respect we have gained from our rival colleges. We are seeing it on the administrative side and in the coaches we have been able to attract and retain.
"Our graduate assistant program has added staff and allowed the head coaches to give an appropriate amount of time to their programs and, more importantly, to put more time in with their players."
Liburd coached three Temple sports at one time, and paring that to one helps greatly in effectiveness, he said.
"We compete with some of the best NAIA and NCAA D-II teams in the country," he noted, "and the coaches on the other side are full time with one sport and have tons of assistants, in many cases. It's a big difference."
Liburd grew up in London playing soccer, cricket and basketball. He came to the United States to play basketball and soccer at Bellevue University in Nebraska and later transferred to Maine-Machias, where he played basketball and later coached under Randy Lee. He followed Lee to Temple, and although Lee now is gone, his work remains visible in the department's growth and new stability, Liburd said.
Liburd's wife, Tina, works at TTU as Student Affairs relations specialist.
"We like the vision of what this school is trying to do, and we like its service-oriented mission and the family atmosphere of the staff," her husband said. "And we absolutely love this city."
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.