SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 21, 2021) – The Southern Conference named its All-Southern Conference Faculty and Staff Team on Monday, with two representatives each from all 10 member schools being recognized by the league. ETSU’s two representatives to earn the honor were Dr. Natalie Smith and Jeff Shell.
While the selections were left up to each institution’s discretion, the recipients all shared the common characteristics of demonstrated service to the institution and contributions to campus life and the local community. Faculty members selected have demonstrated strong contributions to teaching, research and/or service, while staff members are being recognized for bringing out the best in others and creating conditions for success.
Joining Dr. Smith and Shell on the all-SoCon faculty and staff team were: The Citadel’s Dr. Kevin Skenes and Stephanie Fye; Furman’s Dr. Scott Murr and Dr. Brad Harmon; Mercer’s Dr. Chris Grant and Rick Cameron; UNC Greensboro’s Dr. Chris Kepley and Zach Smith; Samford’s Dr. Larry Harper and James Carlson; Chattanooga’s Dr. Mark Schorr and Christopher Stokes; VMI’s Col. James A. Coale and Dr. David Copeland; Western Carolina’s Dr. Alvin Malesky and Roger Turk; and Wofford’s Dr. Jameica B. Hill and Jeff Burney.
“The conference celebrates the outstanding work and accomplishments by these talented faculty and staff members at each of our member institutions,” SoCon Commissioner Jim Schaus said. “These are in essence the conference’s annual MVP awards for faculty and staff. We will publicly recognize these awards winners during a home men’s basketball game this year. Please take a bow for a job well done!”
Below are the bios on both Dr. Natalie Smith and Jeff Shell.
Dr. Natalie Smith, ETSU
Dr. Natalie Smith is an Associate Professor in the ETSU Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology. She serves as the graduate coordinator for the Athletics Administration and Esports Management Graduate Certificate programs and works closely with ETSU’s varsity esports team. She also serves on the Clemmer College Race, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force and on the ETSU Graduate Council. Smith has recently co-authored a book on Organizational Behavior in Sport Management and published numerous articles related to sport management, but it was her work with students that isn’t required as part of her job for which she was nominated for the All-SoCon Team. Smith plays an instrumental role in connecting students in her program with volunteer opportunities in athletics. She also serves a sounding board for graduate students as they learn to balance their work in sport related areas with their coursework. She uses her own work/life/school balance tactics to help them succeed in all facets of life.
Jeff Shell, ETSU
Esports coach Jeff Shell joined ETSU in 2019. Working with the Esports Taskforce, they helped build the inaugural team, which was announced December of that year. In the first year of competition, Shell led ETSU Esports to a national top-16 finish in Overwatch and a top-15 finish in the Southern Collegiate League of Legends conference. Adding a third game, Rocket League, to the program in 2021, they took Overwatch and Rocket League to the fall conference playoffs. Shell also devotes time to helping build the local Esports infrastructure by helping start and support high school Esports programs across the Tri-Cities as well as working with local community centers, such as the Langston Centre, to promote Esports as a youth activity in the region.
The 2020-21 All-SoCon Faculty and Staff Team will also be recognized at home men’s basketball games this year, as they were not able to be recognized last season due to the Covid pandemic.
For more information on ETSU Athletics, visit ETSUBucs.com.