April 2, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech softball assistant coach Shaina Ervin will never consider herself a know-it-all.
But she is determined to keep learning until she gets as close as she can to being one.
"I have a passion and a desire to learn and challenge myself and I've always wanted to get my master's," said the 26-year-old Ervin, who is in her second year as Yellow Jackets' pitching coach. "It's been something I never wanted to waver on. I just needed the right opportunity to complete it and I've been working hard at trying to balance and manage and juggle all of that with my softball and coaching."
She's found that balance.
Ervin's passion and desire will pay off at the end of the summer when she receives her Master's in Sports Administration at Georgia State.
It also will pay off this afternoon, when she receives the Mary Helen Huggins Memorial Scholarship Award at Georgia State's annual College of Education's 2012 Honors Day Ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Speakers Auditorium in the school's Student Center.
The award is a $1,000 scholarship, named for the former GSU faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology and Health and former Marketing Services Director for the Atlanta Braves, and is awarded to "an active graduate student in sports administration" as chosen by Georgia State's Sports Administration Faculty.
Ervin certainly qualifies.
Her fervor for learning and activity in the classroom is a lifelong theme. As Ervin has built her successful career as a softball coach, she's also worked toward achieving her doctorate. A 2007 graduate of North Carolina State, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Ervin continued her studies when she took over as head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2009. (She spent 2008 as an assistant coach at UNC Greensboro).
While leading UTC to a 69-41 record in two seasons and winning two Southern Conference regular-season championships and one SoCon Tournament Championship, Ervin also began taking courses toward a Master's in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a field she's pursued at Georgia State.
The ability to balance softball and higher learning has earned the respect of her professor, Dr. Beth Cianfrone, Ph.D.
"I think just her ability to manage and still perform at a high level in the classroom is what's most impressive," said Dr. Cianfrone, who is assisting Ervin with her thesis. "Even as she's working a number of hours a week, she's also still committed to the education side."
"I've encourage both Shaina and Aileen to go for their master's," she said. "For [Ervin] to be successful in her academics is awesome and we're all very proud of her for that."
Ervin's ability to compartmentalize her work with Georgia Tech pitchers as well as her thesis work while excelling at both has impressed Dr. Cianfrone, who talked about how Ervin was e-mailing with her Friday morning as the Yellow Jackets were on the road traveling to Raleigh for a series with the Wolfpack.
She obviously had her pitchers prepared, as Hope Rush threw two complete games and Kylie Kleinschmidt also went the distance in her start. The duo pitched to a 2.00 ERA (allowing six earned runs in 21 innings, a 2.00 ERA) while giving up only 18 in Tech's sweep.
"She's extremely organized so I think that helps her to be able to balance both of those out," said Dr. Cianfrone. "In terms of meeting and class work she's always on top of it. So it hasn't been an issue in terms of not being able to meet a deadline. She always has it done well in advance. I think it's just a testimony to how committed she is as an individual to be able to manage all those aspects and do them at a high level."
Ervin was not at liberty to detail her thesis work, but is eager to complete it.
"I'm really excited about the topic I'm doing," she said. "I can't get into too much detail about the thesis because the subjects and the participants I'm going to use can't really know about it but I'm excited for the finished product and my thesis advisor, Professor Cianfrone and I hope to get it published."
Dr. Cianfrone shares Ervin's enthusiasm.
"Her thesis is one that I think is going to be pretty impactful to our field," she said. "So we're looking forward to seeing that data collection come out and seeing those results."
Getting her thesis published and receiving her master's won't be the end of the story for Ervin, when it comes to acquiring knowledge. It'll be just another finished chapter in a book that Ervin hopes has many more chapters for her to fill in.
"I want to be a book of knowledge one day," she said. "I want to learn as much as I can and research. It's really something I'm very passionate about and this program at Georgia State has been such a great experience so far. It's been challenging but it's been rewarding as well."