Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Upon his arrival to what turned out to be an April 25 surprise retirement celebration, Tommy Marshall, the athletic director at Marist School, Atlanta, for 25 years, waves to a crowd of some 250 people at the school's Hughes Spalding Stadium. He had been told he was going to have a ceremonial role before the face off of a lacrosse match.


Marist School athletic director retires after 25 years

By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published May 15, 2021

ATLANTA—Thomas “Tommy” Marshall, Marist School athletic director will retire this summer after 25 years serving at the Catholic high school. 

A competitor at heart, Marshall, 66, started playing sports in elementary school. In high school, he played three sports throughout the school year—football, basketball and baseball. Marshall’s career in athletic administration began at his alma mater, Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and spans 45 years. 

During his time at Marist, the school won numerous sportsmanship awards and state titles. In 2004, Sports Illustrated named Marist the 15th ranked high school athletic program in America. Marist was also awarded the GADA Directors Cup for best overall athletic program for more than 15 years under Marshall. He was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame in 2015.

Tommy Marshall, second from right, is joined at his April 25 retirement celebration by (l-r) his first of five grandchildren, Kinsley, his daughter Stacy, his son Danny and his wife Dana. Photo By Michael Alexander

Marshall was honored at a surprise retirement event April 25, attended by 250 people at Hughes Spalding Stadium. Kevin Butler, a member of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl team of 1985, spoke as a former player of Marshall’s at Redan High School. Butler shared that Coach Marshall would stay after football practice to work with him on his kicking techniques. Former Marist Principal, Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, shared a message of congratulations by video.

Marshall reflected on his career in mentoring young athletes in answering questions posed by The Georgia Bulletin:

How has faith impacted your career in sports?

“I got involved in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in high school that challenged me to integrate my faith journey and my athletic journey. It has been my platform to share the challenge and adventure of following Jesus Christ as a player, teacher, coach and athletic administrator.”

When Kevin Butler was a student at Redan High School, Stone Mountain, he was coached by Tommy Marshall. As one of the nine speakers, Butler shared how Marshall would hang around after practice working with him on his kicking techniques. Butler played football at the University of Georgia, Athens. He also went on to become the kicker for the Chicago Bears, where he was a member the 1985 Super Bowl championship team. Photo By Michael Alexander

How is a sports program at a Catholic school different than at a public school?

“Many of the expectations are the same. I think we have a unique opportunity to bring our faith into every aspect of our athletic programs. Each of our teams at all levels have one or more student chaplains that try to lead the team in daily prayer as well as incorporate team Masses and devotions. Our goal is to incorporate our Catholic values and Christian faith into everything we do athletically. We want to build the total person—academically, athletically and spiritually.”

What have you enjoyed while working at Marist?

“I have been blessed beyond my means. I have been blessed by relationships that will last a lifetime with our staff, coaches, players, parents and administrators. I will cherish relations outside of Marist with my fellow athletic directors. The values of Mary serving behind the scenes for Jesus had a great influence on my ministry in athletics. I believe you lead by being a servant leader as a coach and athletic director.”

What advice would you give parents of high school student athletes?

“I would tell parents to make sure their children are having fun. I would encourage them to be positive and supportive as their children move through the different stages of athletic competition.”

Marshall will continue serving Georgia’s young athletes as interscholastic commissioner for the Georgia Independent School Association. He looks forward to setting his own schedule, traveling with his wife, Dana, and following the sports careers of his five grandchildren.