STATESBORO —For Darin Van Tassell, sports and teamwork have always been an important part of his life. The GS grad said his experiences playing baseball under legendary coach Jack Stallings were some of his greatest memories, aside from meeting his wife on campus, who was a GS swimmer.
For Van Tassell, the memories off the field were as important as the accomplishments on the field.
“Even though [every athlete] can remember every pitch and every play, we can remember our relationships, the players, teammates, and then the University that permitted all of that to happen,” Van Tassell said. “I just get happy when I think back to those times.”
Along with his on field accomplishments, Van Tassell was also a three-time GS Scholar Athlete of the Year selection, and a Rhodes Scholar Finalist, the first ever from GS. Van Tassell graduated summa cum laude in 1989 with a degree in political science.
Van Tassell said that GS made it possible for him to achieve such great successes.
“I could tell you this, Georgia Southern permitted all these things to happen,” Van Tassell said. “I am honored and hold the university positively responsible for what took place because the professors and coaches that were apart of my life.”
Van Tassell's interest in baseball continued even after graduation, as he taught baseball abroad in over 40 countries including Estonia, Curacao, Aruba, Costa Rica, Israel, the former Soviet Union, Nicaragua and Japan. He was also a coach for the Nicaraguan National baseball team during their appearance in the 1996 Centennial Games in Atlanta, where they went to the Bronze Medal game against the United States. He was also able to meet personally with George W. Bush and Fidel Castro.
He also earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina, and returned to GS as a professor in 1994. Van Tassell saw earning a master’s and doctoral degree as a unique challenge.
“It was intellectually important to me, it’s like the reason why some people climb Mount Everest, I wanted to say that I could do it,” Van Tassell said.
Van Tassell would serve as a professor at GS for 30 years, and as an assistant coach on the GS baseball team from 1994 to 1999, while also pursuing various business interests, including opening the Clubhouse, a fun center with indoor and outdoor activities. He is also the current President of the Statesboro professional soccer team, Tormenta FC.
“For me, teaching and coaching and now running the business at the Clubhouse and running our pro soccer team, they’re all from the same mold,” Van Tassell said. “It’s about growing an organization and growing people and trying to get smarter together and doing it together collectively. That is so much fun.”
According to Van Tassell, his future goal is to grow the Tormenta soccer program, develop a new soccer stadium and develop shopping areas around it.
“In the end I think it rebrands our city, and it rebrands the corridor at the entrance to Georgia Southern Van Tassell said. “I think it helps us recruit and retain students better, and in Statesboro, Georgia, that matters.”
Nathan Woodruff, The George-Anne Interim Editor-in-Chief, email@example.com