By Matthew Pertz, Opinions Editor
“It’s really like going home for me”
J.P. Rader, called Dr. Rader by his students and Coach Rader by his athletes, is moving back to South Korea after a seven year vacation here in Wilmore. He spent his time researching education and coaching volleyball, two passions he picked up during his most recent stay at the Seoul Foreign School.
“I was given volleyball to coach as my very first coaching position in 1987,” he said, “and I fell in love with it from the first practice on.”
That love led him to a 306-73 record abroad and a 218-64 record in seven seasons here at Asbury. Even though he was successful in both positions, Rader had a lot of learning to do when he transitioned between the two levels.
“In high school, you’d develop the players you have, but here of course you have to go out and recruit the athlete you’re looking for” he said. “Asbury athletes are very special in that you have to make sure the faith piece is a strong part of what you’re looking for… you want not just great volleyball players, but first great people who happen to be great volleyball players.”
However, Rader’s greatest passion is not volleyball, but education, and that love is seen through the countless artifacts that overflow off of the bookshelves in his office. Those knick-knacks are symbolic of the knowledge and experience he’s gained during his short tenure as Asbury faculty.
“In my seven years here, I think I am a more well-rounded educator. I am more knowledgeable, my leadership skills have increased and my collaboration with local teachers has really shaped who I am as an educator.”
Rader will become the secondary principal at Geonggi Suwon International School in Seoul, an International Baccalaureate school that caters to the growing Christian population in South Korea. The school is only ten years old, meaning Rader will get to be influence the young school and fulfill Asbury’s slogan: “Start Here, Impact the World”.
“I’m looking forward to shaping and molding a school,” Rader said, “and really mentoring teachers and students to create a great school, academically and also spiritually.”
Assistant coach Keith Stowe will succeed Rader on the volleyball court next season. Stowe was the most natural fit for the job after five years as Rader’s right-hand man.
“I’m excited that Coach Stowe is taking over the team,” said Rader. “He knows the system perfectly and he knows the type of athlete that we need for the team”
Some called his decision to leave shocking, but Rader thinks it’s only natural for him to leave this way, saying, “Everyone was shocked when I left Korea!
“This is one of those situations where you have to look at what God wants you to do, and you have to say ‘I have to do what God wants for me.’ Maybe it’s a bit counterintuitive, but we just have to follow when God calls us.”