Over his three decades of professional experience as a coach, a member of media personnel, a teacher, and an adminstrator, Dr. Steven Rader has been a pillar in the growth of several institutions along the way while leading students and student-athletes to heights that they didn’t know that they could reach.
The distinguished qualities that Rader — the Program Director of Sport Studies in the Rehabilitation and Sport Professions — has brought to the table will be honored at the upcoming 2020 Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 7 as Rader will be honored with the Ralph Kavanaugh Home Team Award.
“Receiving the Home Team Award means so much to me,” Rader said. “I knew Ralph personally, and know the inspiration behind the award, which is all about the spirit and pride that Ralph had as a member of Shawnee State Athletics. It’s humbling to be thought of in that way. I can remember vividly, when I was coaching volleyball, where he would poke his head in and say, ‘Go Bears!’ He was all about us and all about Shawnee State. To be thought of in that light is truly a great honor. Ralph was a great guy around the athletic department. He had so much energy and so much enthuasium, so to be mentioned in that same breath is unbelievable.”
“Dr. Rader’s long-tenured support of Shawnee State Athletics is unparalleled,” Shawnee State Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton said. “From his role as Director of Rehab and Sport Professions to his time coaching volleyball and his broadcasts of various athletic home events, he continues to promote, strengthen, and advocate our student-athletes and our institution. During my time as athletic director, I’ve used Dr. Rader as a mentor, asked for his advice, served with him on a variety of committees, and have always appreciated his loyalty to Shawnee State.”
From the outset, Rader’s passion for sports showed at Ohio University, where the Athens County resident and 1981 Athens High School graduate went to school at nearby Ohio University and graduated two quarters ahead of schedule in 1984.
Rader followed up his bachelor’s degree in Athletic Administration with a master’s in Sport Adminstration and Facility Management at OU in 1986, then went to the United States Naval Academy where Rader worked as an Assistant Sports Information Director and covered, among other teams, the 1987 NCAA Division I national-qualifying Navy Midshipmen men’s basketball program which was led by future NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson.
Following that stint, Rader returned to Ohio University, obtained his doctorate degree in 1991 in Higher Education, and spent a full academic year as an Academic Counselor at OU’s University College before making the move to West Virginia State, where Rader handled academics and eligibility compliance, sports information, and the university’s athletic director job in Institute, W. Va. over four academic years from 1992 to 1996. Rader made his final move when SSU hired the then 10-year veteran to lead its Sport Studies program, which had just finished its first year of existence the academic year prior in 1995-96.
“I knew that at some point in my career, I was going to get into teaching,” Rader said. “I had a chance to come in, put a stamp on a program and really make it mine. The fact that the program’s been around over two decades is great. The success of the alums makes me beam with pride. When I see that I’ve got four alums who work on campus, and alums who are working across 11 or 12 different states now, it’s very exciting.”
The result of Rader’s labor has been tremendous, as the success of the program has shown over the course of time. Alums like Jake Dorow and Amy Salvatore (SSU ‘13 for both) have enjoyed successful careers as Sports Information/Athletic Communication Directors, with the latter serving as an Assistant Director of Athletic Communications at West Virginia after graduating from WVU with a master’s degree in 2016. Dorow served at Bowling Green and Kennesaw State (Ga.) as an Assistant Director of Athletic Communications over a five-year stretch, and is now a Marketing Automation Manager at The Impact Partnership after working his way up the ladder with the company.
In addition to the duo, Kara Bobo Stump (SSU ‘08), a well-known figure around the the Shawnee State campus, has filled a variety of hats in a successful manner as Bobo Stump has served as the school’s SID and worked in the SSU Office of Communications before making the move to work over in the SSU Office of Development. The success has continued with people like Alek Morgan (SSU ‘19), who as a native of the Chillicothe area like Bobo Stump, followed a similar path and has moved on to work as a graduate assistant at Cumberlands (Ky.) to go along with a promising array of students who are on track to hold similar paths in the sports field.
The olive branch, however, extends well past media. Ted Tom (SSU ‘04) became Shawnee State’s head baseball coach in 2008 and led the Bears to 203 wins during a tenure that stretched through the 2014 season. Tom, who became Shawnee State’s all-time winningest head coach with 203 victories to his credit, has had coaching stints inside the NCAA Division I programs at Cincinnati and Central Florida and currently holds an assistant coaching position in the latter discipline. Ryan Boggs and Devon Palmer parlayed their hard work into jobs as athletic trainers for Shawnee State upon their graduation.
Then, there’s the Shawnee State volleyball program — which Rader helped to nurture along as it grew from infancy into a regular competitor.
From 1997 to 2005, Rader served as the volleyball program’s head coach, with the Bears ultimately collecting 120 victories in Rader’s nine seasons as a head coach. Following his tenure, he handed the keys to Kristy Kamer, who went on to surpass her college professor’s all-time win total as a coach en route to 134 victories and three consecutive conference tournament titles from 2008 to 2010 as the program’s head coach.
“When I was asked to coach volleyball at Shawnee State, I was thinking, ‘Eh, okay,’ because I hadn’t really done that before,” Rader said. “I ended up having a lot of fun with that with some very fond memories, and hopefully my players have some fond memories of that, too.”
Beyond his work at Shawnee State, Dr. Rader has also taken on an active role throughout Scioto County. In 2018, he was awarded the Marcia Sanderlin Hero Award for his work as part of the Ohio River Valley American Red Cross, which he continues to serve as a devoted volunteer. In addition, he’s also active in the Cincinnati/Ohio River Valley Chapter and the Greater Cincinnati/Dayton Region.
With an established program that includes a student-ran internet broadcasting system in Shawnee SportsNet and a class load that offers a wide variety of challenges and thought-provoking concepts, Rader’s certainly proud of how the Sport Studies program has developed from 1996 to the end of the 2010s. However, nothing tops the pride that the 23rd year faculty member has in his students — both current and former.
“I never wanted to get too far away from the students,” Rader said. “I’ve had various opportunities to get into adminstration, but the thought would always go back to the program. What would happen to it? I’m very protective of the program because that’s a part of me. That’s a part of the program and it’s a part of who I am. Doing things like Shawnee SportsNet has kept me in touch with the students and with what’s going on athletically here at Shawnee State. When I get to work with students outside of the classroom, that’s fun. I see them outside in their world and the commonality that we all share. That’s gratifying to me.”