Missouri State University

Sean Nevills

  • Physical education teacher and head football coach, Central High School
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • BS, physical education, 2010
  • MPS, sports management, 2013

Teaching like a coach, coaching like a teacher

He promotes success traits for school, sports and life. 

Take it from Sean Nevills.

To succeed in any career field, know what you want.

“When I finally figured out what it is I truly want to do and be in life, that's what guided me,” Nevills said.

As a young undergraduate student, Nevills didn't know what he wanted.

Moment of truth

Sean Nevills writing on clipboard during physical education class.

Working on an assignment for his then-major, Nevills had a realization.

“It was an online class and I'm sitting there doing the work. I'm looking at it and I just said, ‘I hate this. I seriously hate doing this,’” Nevills said. “It was for certain people but it wasn’t for me.”

Nevills had transferred to Missouri State after his freshman year at an out-of-state university.

Despite switching majors once he arrived, his new major felt dull.

“In that moment, I went back online to the Missouri State website and, boom, found physical education.”

Using connections to launch a career

Sean Nevills speaking to physical education class.

His third choice for a major, physical education, proved to be the right match.

“When I grew up, I played everything: baseball, basketball, football,” Nevills said. “The skills I learned and the character traits I learned through playing sports – teamwork, how to be a good person, all that – was what drew me into physical education.”

“If you're a coach, you're definitely a teacher or a mentor. If you're a teacher, you're coaching kids in life.”

As a P.E. major, Nevills built relationships with his professors and classmates.

“All four years I was in the program, I always learned something new,” Nevills said.

He credits the kinesiology department for helping him start his professional career.

Nevills completed his bachelor's degree in 2010. He finished his master's in sports management in fall 2013, then accepted a full-time teaching job at Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri.

“The reason why I'm here right now and I've made it this far in my career is because of the kinesiology department and all of the staff there,” Nevills said. “The department head, Dr. (Sarah) McCallister, and (physical education program director) Dr. Rebecca Woodard, who was my adviser – helped me get my first teaching job in Columbia. I owe them a lot.”

Back where it started 

Sean Nevills congratulating PE student.

While completing his two degrees, Nevills began his coaching career. He was a student assistant and graduate assistant coach for the MSU football team from 2007-13.

“That was my ultimate passion – coaching," Nevills said.

Nevills coached and taught at Battle for two years.

He returned to Springfield in 2016 as the head football coach at Central High School. He’s also a physical education teacher, weight room coordinator and assistant track and field coach at the school.

“Part of the reason I came back here from Columbia is because a lot of my connections are here, with Missouri State and just friends in general,” Nevills said.

He's learned that teaching and coaching go together.

“I tell people, ‘Teaching is truly a gift. If you have it, use it. Coaching comes from teaching. You can’t be one or the other."