It’s been said that networking is a contact sport, and no one knows that better than the University of West Georgia’s College of Education.
Offering world-class opportunities to graduates in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area and beyond, the Department of Sport Management, Wellness and Physical Education (SWP) recently graduated its second Master of Science in Sport Management cohort. And although this graduate degree is 100 percent online, the networks established aren’t just for Wi-Fi.
Current student Joely Briseño-Flores, a graduate assistant for SWP, said a combination of connections and mentorships have provided her with experiences she’s able to translate to her future career as an athletics director.
“I held an externship with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, worked the MLS cup in 2018 and the Super Bowl LIII in 2019, as well as the PGA Tour and Talladega Superspeedway,” she explained. “Because of what I’ve learned – in and outside the classroom – I feel fully prepared. It also helped that the classes are taught by diverse professors who educate students on social issues seen in sports and what it is like being a woman of color in the industry.”
Dr. Su Jara-Pazmino, program director and assistant professor, said the department prides itself on the personal relationships students are able to build while at UWG – oftentimes with faculty, who position them to succeed from the beginning, not waiting until graduation nears.
“One of our most important assets is connecting our current students with alumni and industry leaders,” she said. “They are the ones already out in the field – some of whom are doing very well and in good positions – and can translate their experience and how they transitioned to their specific area of expertise.”
For those students who are not already working full time, graduate assistantships are available in the UWG Athletics and recreational departments to supplement classwork. Jara-Pazmino said this is ideal for those interested in intercollegiate athletics administration, one of two concentrations offered in the program. It focuses on sport administration in a higher education context and covers compliance and regulatory issues specifically for intercollegiate athletic competition, student athlete development and welfare, and fundraising and development.
“Here, students can get hands-on experience with one of our teams so they get the ins and outs from everyday insights,” she stated.
Alum Mark Schult ’21, who coached with the UWG Wolves men’s basketball team, recently completed his fourth season overall and second season at UWG. He said his experience in the program has benefited him as a coach, leader, communicator and member of the university community.
“The professors set the expectations high and were forthright in the objectives of their courses,” Schult shared. “I was able to take concepts from classes such as Marketing in Sport, Student Athlete Development and Analytics in Sport to better perform my job as a coach. The flexibility in the program helped me become more organized in my job and enhanced my time management skills.”
Sports analytics, the second concentration, reflects new trends emerging in the field of sport management. This prepares students to apply data science to challenges facing sport organizations. It also involves the application of statistical methods, quantitative analysis and predictive models to gain insight and help sport organizations make decisions about player and team performance, fan engagement, and financial and marketing strategies.
There is also a general track for those who would like the best of both worlds in which students take two classes from each concentration.
“It’s a nice mix in which they learn to deal with statistics and analyze information and also get a good feel for collegiate athletics, which is always changing with all the new laws and regulations,” Jara-Pazmino said.
What excites Jara-Pazmino the most about the growing program is the fact that it is gaining ground and support.
“We look forward to inviting more people who are passionate about being part of a network of current students, faculty and alumni who can be counted on in the future,” she concluded. “We have a community we created which is very exciting from my perspective.”
photography by Miranda Daniel