Graduate program: Master’s in business administration in sports management
Academic history: Bachelor’s degree in sociology, 1977, Missouri State University
Occupation: Tennis instructor
Q: What has been your career path since you were on campus in the 1970s?
A: I was the number-one singles and doubles tennis player when I was here and have been a professional tennis teacher ever since. I have lived all over the country — Phoenix, Florida, Nashville, Chicago and St. Louis. I moved back to this area in spring 2010 after my mother died so I could care for my father, who is legally blind.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
A: In my field it is advantageous to continue your education — you can only give so many tennis lessons as you get older! I have been a tennis director for most of my career and that’s about as high as you can get as a tennis professional unless you get a master’s degree and go into management. My eventual goal is to manage a tennis facility or other sports complex.
Q: What would you say to other nontraditional students who are considering coming to school?
A: There is a learning curve but you can do it and it’s worthwhile. I have had to adjust my thinking to get back into the college mode of reading and memorizing a lot of details. But it’s always great to learn — I am always thinking in class, “Hey, I can use this info in my next position.” When I read my sports management book, I think about how it’s good stuff that I could have used earlier in my career.
Q: What was the Graduate College admissions process like?
A: The staff in the Graduate College was fantastic in helping me when I was trying to be admitted. I had some stumbling blocks and they were able to help with that — every time I had a problem they were there.
Q: Tell us about your experiences with professors at Missouri State.
A: I have had good experiences with the professors since my undergraduate years. I started here in the ’70s but transferred to a private school after two years because I was recruited to play tennis. I transferred back again because I really felt the professors at MSU were superior to the ones at the private institution. I really learned a lot from them. The professors I have had since starting this degree have been good as well. I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Robert Jones, the head of psychology, in a field I had never even heard of: industrial organizational psychology. I didn’t have a clue what it was or how it would help with sports management when I came into class, but it has been a great learning experience and he is just a wonderful teacher. Dr. Jones has helped me learn the jargon of industrial organizational psychology because they speak a different language — I call it “I.O.-nese”! The first day I didn’t have a clue what they were saying. He has helped me every step along the way.
Q: How does Missouri State set you up to succeed?
A: Again, it goes back to those professors. The teachers want you to learn how to think and apply your skills, not just memorize facts. And the work we do in class is something I could actually use in my future job. In one project we’re looking for a grant to explore the selection process of hiring high-performance coaches for the United States Tennis Association.