OHIO’s Athletic Leadership Forum

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Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. And thank you for joining us today for our webinar regarding the Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration and in particular our campus visit, the Athletic Leadership Forum.

My name is Sean Dove and I’m the senior enrollment advisor for the Master of Athletic Administration program and this afternoon we’re joined by Matthew Welsh who is a current student in the program who just came back from the Athletic Leadership Forum. He’s going to give us a little bit of his insight. Matt if you would go ahead and introduce yourself and let our audience know a little bit about your background and how far along you are in the program.

MATTHEW: Great! Thanks Sean. Great to be here. My name is Matthew Welsh from Marysville, Ohio. I started the program in the summer of 2018 and I’m scheduled to graduate in May of 2020. And super excited to be here.

SEAN: Ok thank you for that Matthew. Today you know we’re going to be discussing the Athletic Leadership Forum and that’s probably the highlight of the Master of Athletic Administration program here. A lot of online programs that you go through, you don’t really get to know the other students in your class with you, but here you actually get to meet them, as well as, two other classes that are also going through the program. You get to come to campus and you’re going to be there with 100 to 150 other coaches and athletic directors from around the nation and as we all know in this industry a lot of times it’s just as much who you know as well as what you know. This leadership workshop takes place on every summer. You’re only required to go to one. You’ll need to check with your enrollment advisor to find out when you would be attending because it is based upon when you start the program but it typically takes place the last week of June and it starts on a Thursday evening and runs to about noon on Saturday.

During this time you get into as mentioned before we get to meet all of your fellow classmates. You’re going to get to meet all of your faculty. They’re going to be there. You get to a tour of facilities here at Ohio University and really take part the whole campus experience. You get to stay in one of the dorms if you’d like to. And don’t worry we’ll put you in the newer air-conditioned dorms, so we won’t put you in the ones from the 1800s. But it’s a fun weekend. You’re going to be absolutely exhausted by the end of it, but you’re going to have a lot of fun. You know Matthew since you’re here, why don’t you go ahead and you know give us your take on it because you recently experienced it.

MATTHEW: Thank you Sean. My first impression of Athens was it was pretty incredible. It’s such a beautifulcampus kind of out in the middle of nowhere. As you’re coming down the highway all of a sudden you see you know you start to see the kind of the chapel. You start to see some buildings. You obviously see the convo but then when when you see campus, it’s just absolutely beautiful.

You know and then we then we checked in and it was a super easy process. The faculty did a great job of having everything organized. And then the welcome was just unbelievable. Having seen some of the pictures of our faculty members, I knew who some people were, but others were new to me. But it really felt great to just shake their hands. In some cases that we’ve talked a little bit more often like with Kelley Walton. It was a great big hug. So just a fabulous welcome on day one and you know I wouldn’t say I was necessarily nervous to show up, but it was a very exciting time. Not only to meet my my faculty members, but but also to meet my peers. I was just looking forward to it. I felt like I really got to know the faculty right from the point of registration and all throughout the leadership forum. I’m a relationship person and I love to network and truthfully I’m not afraid to pick up the phone to call somebody or even request a video call, which is actually suggested or recommended throughout this program. So I’ve had more than my fair share of interaction with all the facilitators. You know Kelley is new to the program. She’s been outstanding. Aaron has been with me, along with Scott Smith throughout my entire time in the program. And in one way or the other the two of them have been involved with each one of my classes.

When I look at the guest speakers that we had the opportunity to listen to throughout the forum, one that I was most impressive with was probably the shortest presentation but when Dr. Sherman took time out of his day to welcome us on campus and this was day one of the actual forum, I thought that was special. He’s the Dean of the College of Business, so that that’s where this program falls and I just thought it was special because it showed me that Ohio University and the College of Business recognizes the value of the online student. He spoke to us for about 15 minutes right to kick it off, but I just thought that was incredible and then I’d mentioned kind of all of the the other facilitators that that we’ve had with Kelley and Aaron and Scott and Johnny Evers and Marc Haught out of Kansas. Holland Sirlander and Brett Purcell but then we also had some people that that specialized in our industry Jay Hamms from safe SportsZone came and spoke to us about risk and liability on campus such an important topic for us to know but the energy and enthusiasm that Jay brought to his presentation was just absolutely incredible.

But getting back to registration you know we we checked in. I said it was well organized there was a there was a social event at the OU inn. You know where there’s some hors d’oeuvres and we can have a couple of drinks and start to interact with people. We have the choice of staying on campus in one of the dorms or off campus at one of the local hotels. I chose to stay off campus at one of the local hotels with some of my classmates. However, I had classmates stated in the dorms and I think I made the wrong choice. They got to stay in a beautifully renovated new dorm and it sounded like a truly awesome experience.

SEAN: Thank You Matthew. That’s great information there um. Since you just got back from the Forum just a few weeks ago, you know what were some of your your favorite experiences? You know what was the biggest highlight for you?

MATTHEW: Well Sean, I’d be lying if I didn’t say visiting Court Street with my my fellow classmates and peers. Especially the group that I grew have grown close with.I’ve a feeling that those friendships are going to last way beyond graduation. Athens and Court Street are special. They truly are memory makers, but in regards to the Forum itself. Interacting with the faculty was great. They all were so approachable. I mean look at the pictures that I’ve got here and I basically went up to everybody and just said “Hey I want to get a picture with you.” They’re approachable. Most importantly everybody that we engage with I truly felt that they want me to be successful. It was beyond the classroom. It was here’s my personal contact information. Never once did I feel like they were checking a box or that they had to be somewhere else.

And the guest speakers that we had Jay Hamms is down there in the lower left-hand corner. People like him and the energy that he brings to his presentation should be at every live presentation. And we had an athletic director panel discussion where they brought in some past MAA graduates to sit in, sit on this athletic director panel. Brought down some some of my fellow classmates, who are already in the AD position and we just had the ability to just blast them with questions and and they talked about it not from an educational perspective, but from a real life perspective and that was it was just a great idea. It was the first time they’ve done it at this particular Leadership Forum and I really look forward to seeing how that evolved and quite honestly I hope that I have the opportunity to sit on that panel one day, and look at the people who are sitting in the seats that I was sitting in.

But just looking at these pictures up in the upper left-hand corner that’s Johnny Evers not only is he a legendary athletic director out of Indiana, he also is highly active in the NIAAA. He is the chair of the publication’s committee for the NIAAA magazine. Dr. Scott Smith on the right hand side slightly out of focus but I tell you what the the time and investment that he and Aaron put into this program they handed off to Kelley has been so impressive.

I mentioned Jay, but in the lower right hand corner that’s Marc Haught. He’s the executive director of the Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association. So you know he’s at the highest level that you could possibly be for his state but yet not only does he commit time to me and my peers to learn this profession. Marc and I had the chance to sit down and talk about some things going on in my school district and Marc showed so much passion about what we’re doing, he actually asked if we would be interested in him coming out and visiting our school district and talked to us about opening three brand new stadiums, how to get sponsors, how to brand the stadiums and different ideas for that. So you know was there one favorite part of my visit to Athens. There wasn’t one, but if you if you held a gun to my head, it’d have to be the people that I engaged with.

SEAN: Great Matthew. I like your reference to Court Street. That’s one of the top five activities here in Athens, Ohio. But um getting back to the campus you know I understand that everybody got to take a tour of our facilities here and I see the posters that you submitted to us and also you know, tell us a little bit about the you know the group you have here and just photo on the lower right hand side.

MATTHEW: Yeah so this was. This is a great time in regards to the campus tours we actually had one of the football coaching staff members the director of football operations who is an alumni of OU and the athletic sports management program but OU has, give us a tour of Peden stadium and this included going through their beautiful education building that you can see in the back left-hand corner in the endzone. It’s brand new. It’s really cutting-edge where student athletes can come in and you know work with tutors and just make sure that they have their education first experience, but then we get to walk through Peden Stadium on the outside and then they took us on the turf where, as you can see there we made it out to midfield. Now it was no joke it must have been 120 degrees that day on the turf, so I don’t know how some of the football players and other people play on turf do it, but it was warm. After that we went into the weight room. Just an incredible experience seeing a D1 football and athletics weight room. We also got a tour the convocation center. So a magnificent place to watch Division one basketball. The nice thing about that it was the air-conditioning, so that was really cool then we also went to the facility where you know kind of a practice facility and its unique for OU because they’ve got a 100-yard football field under under the undercover with a track around it so just a huge magnificent facility for student athletes to practice when they can’t be outdoors.

In regards to the picture in the lower right hand corner. This is a group of people that I finally got to meet face-to-face when I arrived for registration but this is kind of my squad. This group of six people. We were assigned together in the very first class. In each class we get assigned a different group but this particular group would kept a text tread group going for the entire process of the year plus that we’ve been involved. And when I think about the Forum the most exciting part of the event for me was the fellow students and getting to meet those those students. I’ve been lucky enough to have this group of students since the beginning. We’ve worked through difficulties in classes or frustrations with assignments for the timing of assignments we. This particular group includes people from Nebraska, Washington. There are three of us from Ohio. There’s one from Maine and other groups I’ve been with people from China, from Canada from Europe. It truly is an international program, but in addition to this group, I had the opportunity to meet others who I’ve interacted with in class and it was kind of neat because after forum, I actually had people that I finally got to meet, reach out to me to talk about a homework assignment or talk about my thoughts on a learning activity, but getting going around and meeting the people that are participating in the Forum with me what was really neat. Some people recognize me from the journey that I’m documenting on Twitter. Other people just through the voice thread introductions that we do for each class. But these that these are more than classmates. The guy on the right-hand side, he and his wife actually are having their first baby today. And I can’t wait to hear from them to know how that went but these are people I can’t wait to get back together within May of 2020. We’ve all agreed to come back and to walk the stage and get our diplomas and have one more trip as you know to Court Street.

SEAN: Thank You, Matt, that was awesome. And I thank you to the audience who joined us today. I’m sure you found this information you know to be quite valuable to you to get the students’ perspective. So you know what to expect when you come on campus here at Ohio University. Again this truly is a highlight of the program. You are going to get absolutely a lot out of this. You’re going to be exhausted by the end of the weekend but you’re going to wish it lasts another a couple of days when it’s all over and done with. If you have any questions whatsoever don’t hesitate to reach out to us. On the screen, you’ll find all of the contact information or if you’ve already been in contact with your advisor, reach out to them directly. We’re here to assist you any way that we can and if you like more information about the forum that just took place, looking there on the screen you’ll see the Twitter hashtags. Go ahead and search for it there. There’s quite a bit of stuff already going on and know we loved it. You know to hear back from you and you know to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and hope you’re having a great day.