At the tender age of 28, Daniel Nester has already landed his dream job.
On Tuesday, the Carroll County native got the call he’s been waiting for all his life – the one informing him he has been hired as Spirit Coordinator at Georgia Tech.
A 2007 graduate of Carroll County High School, Nester will coordinate all things spirit-related at the Atlantic Coast Conference school. Basically, that means he will be the head coach of the Yellow Jackets’ cheerleading and dance teams, and he will be in charge of the mascots, all the cheerleaders, dance team members and assistant coaches.
“It’s almost like a head football coach’s responsibilities except with the spirit team,” Nester said. “This is an absolute a dream job. I am fortunate enough that this a position that doesn’t go much higher. I am technically like a CEO at a university. I run the entire department and report directly to the AD. Any other university would have been a lateral move. This is at a big Division I university, and for me this is a dream job because it also in a big city. I like to be social and for all these things to collide at one time was like a dream job that wasn’t going to happen again. I plan to build a house and live in Atlanta until I retire here and hand it off to someone else.”
In a way, Nester’s career path has closely mirrored that of another Carroll County native – Frank Beamer. Both graduated from Virginia Tech after high school and then moved on to smaller colleges in nearby states before returning to the grand stage in the ACC. Beamer was a highly successful football coach at Murray State in Kentucky before returning to his alma mater, while Nester served as the Spirit Coordinator at Bowling Green State University in Ohio before his recent hire at Georgia Tech.
Of course, the move will also soon pose quite the conundrum for Nester. After serving as a cheerleader at Virginia Tech for four years and as an assistant cheer coach for the following three years in Blacksburg, Nester will be less than a month into his new gig before his alma mater visits Georgia Tech on Nov. 11.
“It will be the first time I have ever rooted against my alma mater. I know the cheer coordinator at Virginia Tech and helped them with choreography the last couple years, so it will be different when Virginia Tech comes to my new home,” Nester said. “But at the same time it will show me where I have been and how much I have grown.”
It hasn’t take Nester long to move up in the spirit world. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he took on three jobs at one time from 2011-2014, serving as the head cheerleading coach at Radford University, an assistant cheer coach at VT, and as an employee at Virginia Techniques – a gymnastics gym in Christiansburg. In 2014, he was hired as the spirit coordinator at Bowling Green, where he led the Falcons to three top 10 finishes in the college cheerleading nationals – including a pair of third-place national finishes in 2015 and 2017.
“I have been super fortunate to have this opportunity. I kind of maxed out at Bowling Green. We competed at college nationals, which is just like the College World Series in baseball, but for cheerleading, and we finished third in the nation twice,” Nester said. “At the same time I had developed this program and they were doing amazing, but I wanted to be back in the ACC and I wanted to be at a huge school with huge resources. I wasn’t going to make a lateral move and these jobs only come up like every five years or so. To be back in the ACC at a D-I school with 56,000 people at a football game is insane. It’s the atmosphere of making people come to a game versus watching it on TV and that is my responsibility now.”
Normally, when a coach is hired to fill in midway through the season, it is because something bad has happened. That is not true in the case of Georgia Tech and Nester. Most universities have a cheer coordinator, but Georgia Tech did not – instead utilizing a dance coach, a cheer coach, and a person in charge of mascots.
“This is a brand new position. They decided last spring they needed someone in the position, but because it was so new it took them a while to develop a job description of the qualities they wanted as well as who they would report to,” Nester said. “I am replacing the current head coach of the cheer program, who announced in May she is pregnant. In my industry there is not a day off. We practice Monday to Friday, have a game on Saturday, and then rehab and treatment on Sunday, so I understand why she is stepping back. I don’t know Georgia Tech’s version of Enter Sandman and some of those things, so we will overlap for a couple of months and then I will take over from that point. Thankfully she will be there for that crossover.”
Daniel is the son of Rick and Donna Nester of Laurel Fork.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN