Northeast Times

Turner out, Bradley in as new Nazareth AD

Danielle Turner, Nazareth Academy’s athletic director for the past eight years, has stepped down to take the job at Central Bucks South.

Big shoes to fill: Dani­elle Turn­er (right) at the 2013 North­east Sports Awards Ban­quet with Naz­areth Prin­cip­al Sis­ter Mary Joan and soft­ball play­er Molly Scul­lion. Turn­er is now the ath­let­ic dir­ect­or at Cent­ral Bucks South. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Bit­ter­sweet.

When one is lucky enough to hold a job he or she truly loves, mov­ing on to a new chal­lenge is nev­er easy. But some­times, the next lo­gic­al ca­reer pro­gres­sion brings about the need for change, and this has re­cently been the case for two area high school ath­let­ic dir­ect­ors.

For Dani­elle Turn­er, Naz­areth Academy has meant everything to her. A 1999 gradu­ate of the school, Turn­er re­turned after col­lege to be­come a coach, teach­er and as­sist­ant ath­let­ic dir­ect­or in 2004. Two years later, Turn­er be­came Naz­areth’s ath­let­ic dir­ect­or, a po­s­i­tion she has held for the last eight years. 

In her time at the helm, the Pan­das ex­per­i­enced all kinds of ath­let­ic suc­cess, from the school’s dom­in­ant soft­ball pro­gram that is a per­en­ni­al fa­vor­ite to win the Cath­ol­ic Academies League and Dis­trict 1 to the bas­ket­ball and swim­ming teams par­ti­cip­at­ing in the state play­offs, gain­ing the school’s ath­let­ics more ex­pos­ure on a broad­er stage. Turn­er also helped es­tab­lish a new fit­ness cen­ter at the school, re­placed old score­boards and re-modeled Naz­areth’s gym­nas­i­um.

Not only that, but the school sym­bol­izes fam­ily to her, as Turn­er wed her hus­band, John, the school’s head bas­ket­ball coach, dur­ing her ten­ure as  Naz­areth’s ath­let­ic dir­ect­or. 

However, something in­side of her told Turn­er that she was ready for a new chal­lenge, and she found it at Cent­ral Bucks South, where she has been named the third ath­let­ic dir­ect­or in school his­tory, a po­s­i­tion she will of­fi­cially be­gin on Ju­ly 1.

“It’s cer­tainly bit­ter­sweet,” she said. “When I was put­ting to­geth­er the book­lets for our ban­quet, I saw all of the ath­let­ics pro­gram’s ac­col­ades on one piece of pa­per and it re­minded me that we’re com­ing off the best year Naz­areth as a whole has ever had. But I do feel like I’m leav­ing the pro­gram at a good time and in a good place, and the op­por­tun­ity at Cent­ral Bucks South was one I couldn’t pass up.”

Re­pla­cing Turn­er is a fa­mil­i­ar face at Naz­areth. Dan Brad­ley was an as­sist­ant JV soc­cer coach when Turn­er was a stu­dent at Naz­areth in the mid- to late-’90s. When Turn­er be­came the head soc­cer coach dur­ing her time as ath­let­ic dir­ect­or, she brought Brad­ley back as an as­sist­ant; when she de­cided to step down and fo­cus full time on her ath­let­ic dir­ect­or du­ties, Turn­er passed the bat­on to Brad­ley, who has been the head soc­cer coach at Naz­areth the last two years.

In ad­di­tion to his ex­per­i­ence at Naz­areth, Brad­ley has served as the ath­let­ic dir­ect­or of New Found­a­tions Charter School the last four years. Pri­or to that, he had no ex­per­i­ence as an ath­let­ic dir­ect­or, and said that Turn­er’s guid­ance has helped pre­pare him for his new po­s­i­tion.

“It’s bit­ter­sweet for me, too,” Brad­ley said. “I’m leav­ing New Found­a­tions, a place where I star­ted the ath­let­ics pro­gram from scratch. It’s been my baby. Dani­elle, she’s been my ment­or, even though she’s young­er than me. When I be­came an AD four years ago, I had no ex­per­i­ence. Dani­elle was al­ways a phone call away. When I didn’t know how to handle something, I asked her. She was al­ways pro­fes­sion­al and al­ways had the best in­terests of the kids in mind. I’m sad to see her leave, and she’s a great per­son. She guided me through this, and without her sup­port and help, I’m not sure I would have been able to build from the ground up.”

At Cent­ral Bucks South, Turn­er in­her­its a stu­dent body of about 1,800, com­pared to around 500 at Naz­areth. She will be able to over­see more teams, simply due to the fact that her new school is co-edu­ca­tion­al. It also al­lows Turn­er to move to a PI­AA Class AAAA school that com­petes in the highly-re­garded Sub­urb­an One League. Cent­ral Bucks South of­fers ath­let­ics for 22 boys and girls teams, and is known for be­ing par­tic­u­larly strong in field hockey, boys in­door and out­door track, boys and girls bas­ket­ball, girls soc­cer, soft­ball and wrest­ling. 

Cent­ral Bucks South re­ceived its first in­di­vidu­al state cham­pi­on in the school’s in­aug­ur­al year of 2004, and in 2012 the soft­ball pro­gram was the first team sport to bring a state title back home to War­ring­ton, Bucks County, where the cam­pus is loc­ated. 

“I think the chal­lenge is what drew me to Cent­ral Bucks South,” Turn­er said. “It’s double the amount of sports we have at Naz­areth. I’m ex­cited about Fri­day night foot­ball games; it’s something new and ex­cit­ing for me. I’ve been at Naz­areth for 10 years now, and it just felt like it was time.”

As for her re­place­ment, Turn­er raved about Brad­ley’s vis­ion and work eth­ic.

“He was with me for five years all while be­com­ing the ath­let­ic dir­ect­or at New Found­a­tions,” she said. “When I gave up soc­cer two years ago, he was the can­did­ate of choice. He has know­ledge of the PI­AA as well as the ins and outs of be­ing an ath­let­ic dir­ect­or. He’s the best fit. He knows and loves the school and is very in­ves­ted in our girls.”

Brad­ley was honored to be chosen to over­see the ath­let­ics pro­gram in what is a very tight-knit com­munity.

“They’re so ac­cept­ing that I don’t even know how to put it in­to words,” Brad­ley said of Naz­areth. “It’s a com­munity where every­one roots for each oth­er, and not just in sports. That’s what makes it spe­cial. You can have a scared fresh­man come in who knows nobody, and then see how that per­son is im­me­di­ately ac­cep­ted by the rest of the kids.”

Brad­ley said he still plans to coach soc­cer in the fall, say­ing he doesn’t want to re­lin­quish a pro­gram he be­lieves is head­ing in the right dir­ec­tion. 

“I think it was time for me to leave and tackle this new chal­lenge,” Brad­ley said. “And it’s just a great group of kids. The aca­dem­ics are top-notch, and ob­vi­ously the school has had a lot of suc­cess. I just want to con­tin­ue that and hope­fully get the school to an­oth­er level. I’m just thrilled. It really is a dream job for me.”

As for Turn­er, she was en­joy­ing some last-minute time off be­fore her new job be­gins next week. 

“I think the thing I’m go­ing to miss most about the girls and com­munity as a whole is that sense of fam­ily,” she said by phone while en route to the Jer­sey Shore on Tues­day morn­ing. “When I was tak­ing apart my of­fice the oth­er day, it was just covered in pic­tures from the last dec­ade. It was sad, and while I can’t phys­ic­ally bring the kids with me, they’ll al­ways be in my heart. 

“I think they were dis­ap­poin­ted when they first heard, but Naz­areth was happy with what I was able to ac­com­plish. I went to school there, and the things I learned I took with me, and I feel they were very proud of me in that re­spect. The sup­port from the staff has been over­whelm­ing, and I truly felt like I was ap­pre­ci­ated there. Ob­vi­ously, my hus­band was a huge sup­port­er and en­cour­aged me to ap­ply for and move for­ward with this new job. It’s been a great sup­port sys­tem, and I’ll miss it, but I hope to bring a little bit of Naz­areth Academy to Cent­ral Bucks South.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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