Sport and Event Management Alum Found his Footing at Widener

Tiernan Johnson ’23 overcame many hurdles before coming to Widener. He wasn’t always sure what he wanted to study, but his love of soccer was the constant through it all. 

Tiernan poses holding a Philadelphia Eagles jersey that reads "gameday staff"
Tiernan Johnson
Class of 2023
Sport and Event Management
  • School of Business
Career Plan: Collegiate or professional level coach

Tiernan Johnson ’23 overcame many hurdles before coming to Widener. He wasn’t always sure what he wanted to study, but his love of soccer was the constant through it all. 

His journey as a student and student-athlete were derailed at two previous institutions by injury and the pandemic. When he was ready to get back in the classroom and on the pitch, he worked with his advisor to narrow down his interests and look for the perfect fit school. That’s when Widener showed up on his radar for sport and event management.

Tiernan was interested in Widener after taking a tour, but men’s soccer Coach Ross Liberati really helped solidify his decision. 

“Coach Liberati was the only coach that answered me and gave me an opportunity to play for him,” said Tiernan. “He played a major role in my choice because it showed me that the staff really cared about me. He was willing to give me a chance even though he had no reason to.” 

Support Through Sport

Tiernan found success in the classroom with School of Business Administration (SBA) faculty, and with the community around campus, making his choice to attend Widener clearly the right one.

“The professors that were in SBA were phenomenal, and the staff where I worked in the athletic center were also amazing. I believe the culture that was being built really made my experience so special and made me feel included and welcomed although I came in two years late to the program.”

After coming to Widener, Tiernan faced some health issues that kept him off the pitch, but he was still a member of the Pride and his relationship with Liberati continued to grow. Tiernan credits Liberati as a mentor and support system. 

“My experience with the men’s soccer team shaped me into a better person, player, and student. It taught me the importance of adversity and failing,” said Tiernan. “To this day, Coach Liberati provides me with support and guidance although I never had the chance to play for him.”

Hands-On at Home and with the Pros

While he was not active as a player, Tiernan kept himself involved in athletics at Widener and in Philadelphia. He worked for women’s basketball Coach Alisa Kintner, who helped him navigate behind-the-scenes of college athletics. 

Tiernan also worked as gameday staff for the Philadelphia Eagles, working every Birds home game, as well as concerts, and other events, including NCAA lacrosse games hosted at Lincoln Financial Field. 

“Those experiences were phenomenal for me to really apply a lot of the information I was learning in the classroom,” he shared. “Everything I encountered in the SBA building was translated directly into a job like that.”

Working Towards Leadership

Since graduating, Tiernan continues to put his degree, hands-on experiences, and athletic ability into action by building his career in sports. Currently working for a team apparel company, he works directly with customers to ensure teams and their fans have the gear they need. 

Tiernan’s heart is still in the game though, and he ultimately hopes to become a coach at the collegiate or professional level to continue the line of support for athletes.

“I think a combination of my time with the SBA staff and the people I have spent time with at the athletic center has grown my desire to have the same impact on younger athletes.”

Career Plan: Collegiate or professional level coach

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