New hires welcomed

Liberty Athletic Director Jeff Barber brings on three new employees to his staff

Director Jeff Barber has a mission: to have a top-20 overall athletics program at the Division I level. This summer, he added key employees to the athletics department that he believes will help to accomplish that mission.

Barber said the reason for such a desire to reach that kind of athletic prominence is so the name of Christ can be shared.

“The reason we want to do that is really two-fold,” Barber said. “We want our program to show Christ to people in the way we compete and to shine the light on the mission of this university.”

Barber made it very clear what he was looking for in potential candidates to join the Liberty athletic department.

“We’re looking for Christian people that have a high level of experience,” Barber said.

Barber found just that in the three new members of the athletics department. Tim East was hired as the senior associate athletics director for external operations. Lauren Jones was hired as the director of sports nutrition. Eric Overland was hired as the director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports.

Each of the new hires has important experience in their field.

“They have experience because they’ve seen it done at the highest level,” Barber said. “All of these people have done their job at a high level. And that’s where we’re trying to take our program.”

According to the Liberty Athletics website, East spent more than 20 years with Virginia Tech’s athletic department. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State in 1985 and his Master of Science degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in 1987.

“Tim comes in with a lot of great experience,” Barber said. “He’s done this before with Virginia Tech. He helped guide them through those waters of growth and expansion and we’re planning on growing and expanding too.”

Barber said East will be in charge of several important areas of the department.

“His job will be to oversee all of our external areas (such as) ticketing, game sponsorship, the Flames Club, development, fundraising, (and) television,” Barber said. “He will oversee all of those for us and really do two things: have oversight over the efforts of the external areas and also drive them to be better.”

Barber knows that every major athletic department in the country has its own nutrition expert and a top priority of his was to hire one for the Flames. He did just that with Jones.

Jones has experience working with college and Olympic athletes. She is a member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from Kent State in 2011 and her Master of Science degree in Sports Nutrition from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs in 2013.

“There are not a lot of schools that provide a full-time sports dietician,” Barber said. “We’re very fortunate that we are one of them.”

Barber hired Overland to oversee strength and conditioning for the Olympic sports teams on campus.

“Eric is going to come in and oversee 19 sports,” Barber said. “He will have the opportunity to … be very invested in each of them.”

Overland earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history at Winona State in Winona, Minnesota, where he later worked as the associate director of strength and conditioning before God called him to Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, as the director of strength and conditioning.

“Eric brings great experience,” Barber said. “When I called some of the coaches at Abilene about him, they were like, ‘Please don’t take him away from us.’ He’s really a strong Christian guy who is passionate about strength and conditioning and loves the kids.”

Barber believes that these hires will allow him to focus more on getting Liberty football to the highest level, FBS.

“I want to be the best in the country in everything we do,” Barber said. “I want us to be the best because that’s what I think God wants us to do.”

Dillard is a sports reporter.

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