By: Leigh Hatton
The University of Mary Washington’s 2020 First Destination survey showed that sports and leisure is one of the top 10 career fields being pursued by UMW students, according to instructor and career coach Mary Becelia. Over the past few semesters in particular, the university has expanded its offerings on these topics.
Since the athletic field is broad and has many different options, there are multiple pathways available for UMW students. Mary Washington offers a minor in sports management, and has recently introduced more sports-related courses, such as Introduction to Coaching. Instructor and assistant director of Athletics, Caitlin Moore, shared that the sports management minor is the second most popular minor at UMW, directly after business administration.
Outside-of-class opportunities to learn more about careers in sports are expanding too.
On Feb. 2, the College of Business hosted the virtual event “So You Think You Want to Work in Sports.” The event included UMW alumni speakers who work with the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour and the Kansas City Royals baseball team, among others.
UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development can also be a useful resource for students who are looking to explore career options in athletics, according to Becelia. She said that UMW students have recently completed sports-related internships with various local organizations and universities, as well as through the University of Mary Washington’s own Department of Athletics. Becelia urges interested students to start looking for real-life experience sooner rather than later, and to get to know mentors and peers on campus.
“Network with coaches and faculty, and with fellow students. This is a competitive area, not only for the actual athletes, but also to work behind the scenes. You want to be prepared, passionate and ready to work hard to get your foot in the door,” Becelia said.
Apart from internships, students can gain experience during academic semesters via the Campus Recreation Department. There are jobs and trainings offered in a variety of subjects and positions. Campus Recreation hires students to work in the roles of attendants and personal trainers, as well as swim and fitness instructors. Hannah Chester, a sophomore group fitness instructor shared how she came to consider working in this field.
“I never really imagined myself being an instructor, and I feel like I almost stumbled into it. I fell in love with it on my first day of training. With my case, I feel like it shows how easy it is for students to get involved in athletic-based fields of work,” Chester said.
Chester encouraged students interested in a sports-related career to take advantage of these on-campus opportunities. “I felt extremely welcomed in the Campus Rec environment, and you will, too. Get involved with Campus Rec in any way possible, and they’ll help guide you toward the right path for you!” Chester said.
Even if none of these options sound exactly right, there are plenty of other ways to begin a career in a sports-related field. It comes down to each individual. “A large segment of the US population loves sports, we love athletes and athletics, and this is a field with something for everyone,” Becelia said.
Moore shared a similar opinion on the matter. “These can be very rewarding and impactful career paths,” Moore said. “Network and create your own opportunities! Each pathway may be different.”