Athletes train so they can develop the knowledge and skills that give them an edge over the competition.
Coaching candidates seek similar advantages. When it came time for Jason Braga to pick a school to jumpstart his sports career, he chose the Masters of Coaching Education (MCE) degree at Ohio University.
“I was looking for something that would be a differentiator among all the other applicants trying to start their career,” says Braga. “That was the big reason I went with Ohio.”
A former collegiate soccer player at Worcester State University, Braga aspired to coach the game he enjoyed. But he didn’t want to focus on just one sport. He researched his options and chose the Ohio University MCE program because it combined core coaching concepts with advanced leadership skills, all within a multi-sport environment.
“It was a more overall approach to coaching, and me being not just a coach but an administrator and having to work with other people,” says Braga.
Coaches need more than sports-specific knowledge – they have to understand how to deal with off-the-field issues as well.
“It’s having a business acumen at the same time – understanding budgets and so forth like that, and being able to interact with people, and also working with parents,” says Braga,
“It’s the other 50 percent of the time that you’re working and being able to be organized and have that kind of traditional educational background to be able to apply it to the business world.”
Braga, now vice president of the New England Football Club (NEFC), didn’t take the easy route to his degree. Not only was he still playing soccer at Worcester, he was also holding down a full-time finance job. He would often work from 9 to 5, then attend soccer practice for two hours and end the evening doing his coursework until 9.
The convenience of online learning made the MCE program doable for Braga.
The organized structure let him see upcoming assignments and determine how and when he could find time for the work.
“The teachers do well enough to plan ahead of time, to determine what assignments are due,” says Braga. “It’s definitely manageable because it’s so flexible.”
Braga has already incorporated aspects of his MCE education into his work with the NEFC. The program’s required symposium, which brings online students together for a few days of on-campus discussions and networking with professors and fellow students, inspired him to implement an annual coaches’ day.
“We’re spread out all over New England, and so my ability to get everybody together is very limited, in terms of the amount of time I can do it,” explains Braga. “So I took the structure, in terms of how Ohio taught, and had those symposiums and disseminated information and brought that over to our organization.”
The event allows Braga to maximize his time with coaches to discuss not only game-day tactics and rules but also organizational issues and even lifestyle philosophies that the group hopes to pass along to student-athletes.
As a former student-athlete, Braga understands the importance of not only looking for the win, but also finding ways that an organization can make a difference in the lives of its players.
“We’re with these kids for a long time and we have a big influence. So we need to make sure that our influence is carried with them longer than they’re just playing,” says Braga. “That’s what we try and instill in terms of organization and work ethic and proper nutrition, and so forth like that.”
Former athletes can draw on their sports experience to step into the role of coach. Brage believes that the added value of Ohio’s MCE program helps him stand out from the competition.
“Being a good player doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good coach,” he says.
“So being able to be well-rounded in terms of every organizational aspect of being a coach and being able to interact with different people in that sense, is what Ohio does really well. It’s a clear differentiator when you’re submitting your résumé to a prospective college job or youth position, that you’re going to be perceived as a cut above the rest.”
About Ohio University’s Master of Coaching Education (MCE) Online Program
Ohio University’s online Master of Coaching Education program offers a curriculum focused on management, psychology, and leadership. Graduates gain the skills needed to coach elite athletes and winning teams.
The program’s convenient online format help students obtain a degree without disruption of working a full-time career. For more information, visit Ohio University’s MCE page.