Coach Michael Carlson tackles diocesan athletic director role
FORT WORTH — Michael Carlson has been coaching since he was a teen, beginning at age 15 at baseball camps every summer.
His passion is not just for sports but for making sure all young people regardless of athletic ability or economic status can participate, something the 33-year-old strives to do as new athletic director for the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Carlson, a varsity football and girls basketball coach at Nolan Catholic High School, began his new role July 1. He remains a coach at Nolan while he takes on administration roles in the diocese.
“I love teaching the kids and hanging out with them, but what’s more important than teaching the game is being a role model, being available, being an advocate,” Carlson said.
Carlson said in his new role he will help drive enrollment into the diocese and keep kids in its partner schools. His vehicle? Using sports to draw interest in the Church and its schools — much like other teachers use their love of art, music, or theater.
“We have amazing schools and great leadership but at the same time, have some lower income areas,” that need focus, Carlson said.
More important than sports, however, is Carlson’s love for the Catholic faith.
“The Catholic lifestyle has always been important to me. It’s less about coaching and more about taking responsibility for everything you do, making decisions in a manner that honors Jesus every day, and working with our gifts,” he said. “Helping them understand the Catholic lifestyle doesn’t have to be this rigorous idea you hear about. It’s really about the universal truth of the Holy Trinity and sacraments.”
Carlson attends St. Andrew Parish and Saint Patrick Cathedral. After he and wife Alena move to Coppell, they will look for a parish closer to home.
He attends Angelo State University, pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
Prior to being hired at Nolan Catholic High School in June 2016, he taught physical education at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio where he coached football, baseball, basketball, and softball. He also taught and coached at The Highlands School in Irving and Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, and coached women’s basketball at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo.
He enjoys tutoring and has experience working with high school and middle school students in all subjects including math, history, and English. For six years, Carlson has been teaching guitar lessons to students ranging in age from 11 to 65.
Carlson is not the kind of person to let nerves get in his way, and along life’s path he dove right in to roles in his career without a second thought, including a promotion to Events Director of Advancement at Nolan. But this role, he admitted, has him a little nervous.
“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I’m not a person who gets nervous about anything ever,” he said. “But I’m nervous, because I’m so thankful and I really, really want to do a great job and honor those who gave me this opportunity and honor God.”