By Taylor Isenberg
Editor in Chief
What is your position at RU?
“I am an associate professor of sports management. In the 24 years I have been at Rochester, I have had a number of roles. When I first started, I was the head cross country and track and field coach, the assistant women’s basketball coach, intramural director and director of summer programs. Eventually, I became the associate athletic director, and Garth Pleasant and I ran the athletic department together. But at that time, I also began teaching several sports management courses as well. The sports management program began to grow, and because of its size, the college needed someone to take it over full time. I love to teach, so I saw this as an opportunity to teach full time, which I began to do in 2006 when I became the head of the sports management program.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“Having the opportunity to teach and mentor college students. I find it rewarding to work with and guide our sports management students in the classroom, watch them graduate, and then go on to find success in their careers.”
Describe how your job has changed in the midst of the pandemic.
“Basically, I have more tasks to do in and around the classroom. I have to show up early and get the technology set up for students who are Zooming into class. I also have to check wristbands and to make sure that the students have gone through the campus screening procedure. After class is over, I make sure to spray each desk with cleaner and wipe everything down.”
Who has influenced you the most in your life? How and why?
“The majority of my cross country and track coaches throughout my high school and college running career had a huge influence on my life. While coaching me, they not only helped me excel in my sport, they each gave me positive encouragement in their own unique ways. The impact they had on me motivated me to eventually become a coach and an educator. Once I became a coach and teacher, I took the best of their values and philosophies and blended them in order to become the coach and teacher I am today.”
What values motivate you the most?
“I have found that discipline, dedication, loyalty and integrity have helped me in all aspects of my life. And I enjoy working with others who hold those same values.”
What do you do to have fun or relieve stress?
“It used to be running, but now I like to go walking and hiking with my wife, Lora, who also teaches at Rochester University in the mass communication department. I also love to read and find cooking to be very relaxing...at least when the food ends up tasting good.”
What has been the biggest challenge in your life?
“I have been through many ups and downs in my life going back to my childhood. But all of the life situations have taught me resilience and brought me closer to God.”
What was your favorite family vacation?
“We’ve traveled a lot in both the United States and around the world, so this is hard. However, one of my favorite family vacations was when we went to Washington D.C., Gettysburg and Antietam in 2010. Since I love history, I enjoyed exploring all the sights, museums and monuments.”
What is a random fun fact about you?
“At this point, I’ve hiked 23 state highpoints. Some highpoints are really complicated, such as Texas which is almost 9,000 feet. It involved 8 hours of technical hiking with icy conditions, 60-70 mile per hour winds, and an elevation change of about 3,000 feet. It was amazing to stand and look out over the desert-like land from high up in Texas. Other high points are really easy, and somewhat boring, but what is unique is that it takes us to places in the U.S. where we would never go otherwise. The most recent easy high point was in a cornfield in northwest Iowa. We just pulled off the highway and we were at the high point.”
What is something you want to learn or wish you were better about?
“I am currently working on my doctorate degree in global sports leadership at East Tennessee State University. I am enjoying learning more about sports, leadership, best practices around the world, etc.. It’s keeping me busy because I’m doing it in addition to my teaching load, but my research and learning will definitely benefit our sports management program.”
What single piece of advice would you give to students today?
“Get out and experience the world. We live in a big world that many people don’t take the time to learn about first-hand. I can sit and read about all kinds of other places and cultures, but you learn so much more when you actually immerse yourself in other cultures around the world. Their languages, the way they dress, the food and drink they consume, their likes and dislikes, the religions they practice. All are most likely quite different compared to what you’re used to, but by experiencing the world, you learn to become more understanding and more tolerant of those around you.”