OHIO’s MAA Alumni Interview – Angela Nadeau

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Transcript

Kimberly Moy:

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. We have a very special webinar for Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration. Today we will be conducting an alumni interview with Angela Nadeau. Angela is the Director of Interscholastic Unified Sports at the Special Olympics of Maryland. She’s also a very recent graduate with us. So, without further ado, let’s hear what she has to say.

Kimberly Moy:

All right. Thanks so much for joining us today, Angela. So, my name is Kimberly. I am the Ohio Online Master of Athletic Administration Specialist, and like I said earlier, we are joined by Angela. So, Angela, why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself, like what you do now, when did you graduate, tell me all the good details.

Angela Nadeau:

Absolutely. Thank you, Kimberly, for having me and inviting me to this. This is pretty exciting to be a part of this. I am a resident here in Maryland. I actually live in Annapolis near the Naval Academy. I graduated from the online OU program this past August. So, I am a recent grad, so all of this stuff is fresh in my head. Currently, I am the Director for Interscholastic Unified Sports for Special Olympics, here for the state of Maryland. So, although I didn’t take the athletic director path per se, what I am doing now is directly correlated to what an athletic director does do, and they work with me on this program. So, that is what I’m up to right now.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome. Did you have a background in athletics or athletic administration prior to joining the program?

Angela Nadeau:

I didn’t have a background in athletic administration per se, but I have played college basketball, I’ve played so many sports I can’t even begin to tell you, three sport high school varsity athlete, and I have coached at all levels, all the way from the little level where my son was at at three and four and five years old, all the way to the varsity high school sports such as basketball, soccer, and track. So, I’ve been involved with sports, my father was my athletic director in high school, and that’s kind of the passion behind the start of all this program, was my dad, but this is kind of where I said I leaned toward this program, and I didn’t know about it from the onset, when I was doing research, but here I am now, already done and using my skills.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome. All right. Thanks so much, Angela. So, I heard you said that you work for Special Olympics. Talk a little bit more about that. What is the mission, and what is your mission?

Angela Nadeau:

Okay. Special Olympics, just to give you a little background, the mission for Special Olympics is to provide year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness. They can demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in the sharing of gifts, and skill, and friendship, with their families, and other Special Olympic athletes, and the community.

Kimberly Moy:

Wow, that’s so awesome. Does that take place in school? Tell me how that would affect school.

Angela Nadeau:

Affect school, sure. So, overall, the Special Olympics mission is nation and global. And so, with that comes the different areas of the programming. And so, we have something as young as [inaudible 00:03:57] for the young ones and it’s called the Young Athletes Program. It starts even in Pre-K, so it’s a really great school-based program, and then we have a middle school program. We have an interscholastic program, which is my area. We have stuff for colleges, so it’s step by step, and then once an athlete has gone and progressed out or phased out of that age group then they go into the communities, and then there’s community programs of all kinds of sports for them to play.

Angela Nadeau:

But for my role particularly, I’m involved with the Interscholastic Unified Sports. Since about 2008, Special Olympics has been actively engaged in development and the implementation of school-based strategy supported by the U.S. Department of Education, for promoting and increasing the social inclusion of youth with intellectual disabilities in schools and the communities across the nation. More specifically, however, Unified Sports means that every student, every student should have a chance to share in the joy of sport, interact with other students, and be a part of their school through sports. So, basically what we’re saying is that sports needs to be a fully inclusive fitness program that can combine equal numbers of students with and without intellectual disabilities. So, Interscholastic Unified Sports has both students with an intellectual disability such as autism or Down’s Syndrome and students without.

Angela Nadeau:

So, if you have a child that, for instance, plays a traditional sport, like a varsity sport or junior varsity, soccer, and basketball, and track, and those kinds of things, that’s wonderful. Those are just dynamic opportunities. But then you have the child that says, “I will never make a JV or a varsity team. I really do like sports and there’s nothing for me.” Well, definitely in 35 states across the country there are Unified Sports at the high school level, so that in the spring, or in the winter, or in the fall, something is offered to these children so that they can play. In the meantime, they’re also playing with children with intellectual disabilities. So, they learn how to be inclusive. And so, there are teams like bowling, or tennis, or track and field, that everybody can compete in, or just even participate in it just for fun and for fitness.

Angela Nadeau:

So, the goal of Unified Sports is to bring friendship and socialization, meaningful inclusion, sports skill development, which means that students can develop sports skills to enable them to compete with greater proficiency and develop physical fitness, and competition experience. So, again, for my case, here in Maryland, and we are one of very few states across the country that offer Interscholastic Unified Sports that provides all the way competition to the state level, these student athletes can earn a varsity letter for participating in a Unified Sport. And so, with that, they come at state championships, so my job is to direct and assist athletic directors and coaches across the state, in different counties, to set themselves up in each area of their sports program.

Angela Nadeau:

So, a Unified tennis program works the same way as a normal tennis program does. It’s just offered for Unified to include everybody that wants to participate. And so, with that, they have district tournaments, which means that every single county has their own tournament, and then from there, the winners end up going to the state tournaments, which, again, I manage and operate, and they all end up competing against each other and hopefully winning a gold or a silver or a bronze medal, and that championship banner in their gymnasium. So, it’s a pretty incredible experience overall for Unified Sports.

Kimberly Moy:

Wow.

Angela Nadeau:

Right?

Kimberly Moy:

That is. That sounds amazing. I admittedly did not know too much about Unified Sports until I spoke with you, and it sounds like… You mentioned that it’s like 35 out of our 50 states.

Angela Nadeau:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kimberly Moy:

That sounds like a high number, but also a pretty low number, to me, so… I mean-

Angela Nadeau:

Well, it is a… I see what you’re saying, because it’s not been something at the school-based level for very long, again, since 2008, so it’s growing. So, Unified Sports is certainly growing across the country, but what the difference is now is that what we’re trying to accomplish, especially at the national level, is that we would like the state programs to work with their… we would like Special Olympics to be working with the… How do I say this? The state programs. So, the National Federation of High School Sports has membership association, so each state has their own state association for sports. So, with that, have that implementation of all these sports that are state-wide, and that way these athletic directors now know this is coming down but it is sanctioned by their state association. And so, Special Olympics National, otherwise known as SONA, SONA, part of the organization, is setting the guidelines and the standards and how that’s been working.

Angela Nadeau:

Now, Maryland, however, has been on the forefront. We’ve been doing this all along. So, although this is what’s coming down from SONA, from our national organization, Maryland and a few other states, I believe Arizona is one of them as well, we have already been working with our state association. It has already been implemented. So, we offer five state-wide competitions for our student athletes in, there’s 24 counties, and they choose which sports they want to utilize and which ones that are Special Olympics sponsors. So, it is pretty much a big deal, so for me, I am the athletic director, if you will, for Special Olympics.

Kimberly Moy:

That is amazing. I mean, thank you for all that you do. I wonder if there are people out there who are athletic directors or who are passionate about diversity and inclusion just like you. How can the everyday athletic director, or associated AD, or even someone who’s a coach, how can they get involved, or how does this affect ADs nowadays?

Angela Nadeau:

That’s a great question. So, every state is different, because of course every state association is different. And so, with Special Olympics, with their rollout, and working with the National Federation of High School Sports, they’re the governing body as to how this is going to look for athletic directors in the future. So, this is something that, although I can speak about it because I know the information is coming, it should actually come from the National Federation of High School Sports. So, athletics and athletic directors and athletic departments, just be on the alert that this is coming, so that the high school associations will be able to offer Interscholastic Special Olympics Unified Sports. What’s really wonderful about the partnership between Special Olympics and the National Federation of High School Sports is that there is guidelines. There will be webinars, there are classes, no one ever lets these ADs or these coaches do this on their own to figure out. This is what we specialize in.

Angela Nadeau:

For example, in my state, when I had somebody who was in a different county and said to me, “What is it that makes Special Olympics… Why should I be working with Special Olympics on this?” because they hadn’t been. Well, first of all, I said, “You get someone like myself. You don’t talk to a recording. You get somebody who has experience,” so, with my education with OU, and that particular degree, which has helped me immensely. And then I said, “I have been a coach, I am a parent, I have kids that play sports, so I can talk to parents, I can talk to coaches. And so, with all of these pieces,” I said, “Special Olympics has the tools.” I said, “You have me there to understand your role and your coach’s role, but we also have the tools. We have manuals, we have webinars, we have coaches clinics. We come and support you with any of the equipment that you need. We help you with everything, with the details, basically, and how to run and how to support your program.”

Angela Nadeau:

So, in other words, again, we do not leave a coach and say, “Okay, here you go. Here’s a ball and good luck.” That’s not how that works. So, [crosstalk 00:13:20]-

Kimberly Moy:

I like that because it seems like it could be, if you don’t have any knowledge, if you’re just thinking about it, you’re like, “I don’t even know where to begin,” but it sounds like-

Angela Nadeau:

Exactly.

Kimberly Moy:

… your organization and the partnerships, they just provide so much education, and it sounds like even resources, to get the programs to be successful. I mean, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be successful.

Angela Nadeau:

Exactly.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s amazing. I know you-

Angela Nadeau:

[crosstalk 00:13:49] Sorry, go ahead.

Kimberly Moy:

No, go ahead, no.

Angela Nadeau:

[crosstalk 00:13:51] at the National Athletic Director Conference in D.C., there was many an athletic director that I spoke to, we actually had an indoor bocce demonstration and invited the NIAAA team out and rolled the ball with a couple of the kids from the school, and just ADs from all over the place, and that was their question, is the how-to, how do I do this? I couldn’t at the time say to them, “We have it, I just can’t give it to you yet.” So, it’s exactly what it is, is it is the materials and the resources will be rolled out, and it will be available, and again, we would not let an athletic director or a school-based program just go and try to figure it out for themselves, because there’s a lot to it, because your athlete now has intellectual disabilities, so there are reasons for the guidelines that we have. So, we want to make sure, for the safety and the fun of the sport for all involved, that everybody follow what Special Olympics is trying to provide.

Kimberly Moy:

I have to say, I did see the bocce demonstration in person, and it was… To me, being an outsider, I just felt so much, I don’t want to say love… Well, I guess it was. It was so much enthusiasm and so much positivity that I understood it in the moment. Seeing student athletes come together for a goal in mind is something that is not… you don’t see that in everyday life as a working adult, and it’s so awesome. So, do you have any other stories about student athletes that have inspired you in the past?

Angela Nadeau:

Well, let me back up real quick before I do, because taking that comment of how the students interacted with each other, and I think a big piece of that is the other program that works in tandem with the Unified Sports is the Unified Champion Schools piece. With that, the reason why I wanted to mention it is because it’s actually a big deal, and again it’ll support athletic directors so that again they don’t feel as if they’re being hung out for themselves. So, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools offers proven programs and activities that will equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom, and a community experience that improves the attitudes and behaviors among all young people, both with and without intellectual disability. So, Unified Champion Schools, when the whole school and the district… Actually, I shouldn’t say school. It’s usually a district buy-in. What ends up happening, Kimberly, is that there’s a reduction in bullying and exclusion.

Kimberly Moy:

Wow.

Angela Nadeau:

It provides healthy activities and interaction. Exactly, the stats are incredible, statistics are incredible. They overturn stereotypes and negative attitudes, it eliminates hurtful language in schools and in elsewhere, and engages young people as leaders of a new positive social movement. So, in other words, Unified Champion Schools, there’s a three-part component to it. So, the first part is in schools, have some sort of sports or fitness, so the school is involved in offering that, but another component is leadership. So, for example, students with an intellectual disability that are playing… right now, coming up is track and field or outdoor bocce… they are the captains. That’s a leadership position. They’re included in what goes on with the team.

Angela Nadeau:

The last piece of something that would make a school a Champion school is whole-school engagement. One of the things I loved was that before the tennis state tournaments, one of the schools recorded this huge rally, huge rally in their gymnasium, to wish that tennis team good luck, as if it was the football team, or the soccer team, or basketball team, going for state championship. Again, just because it’s a Unified team doesn’t mean it’s different. It’s a part of the school. So, they are just as important and as special as any other team that they have at the school. They had a huge rally. The band played, the cheerleaders were out there, it was so cool.

Angela Nadeau:

So, that’s what, again, Unified Champion Schools exemplifies. And so, with that other question you would ask about the story about a student, the job I had before I came to Special Olympics, I was a special educator at a school in Pasadena, Maryland, called Northeast High School. In that realm, I had an opportunity to work with a few autistic kids, and they were in my co-taught science classes.

Angela Nadeau:

One of the young men, his name was Chase, and he just kept to himself. So, one time, every now and again I’ll check in with him, and I said, “Chase,” I said, “Do you like to play sports?” He would tell me, he’s like, “Yeah, I love to do this and I love to do that.” I said, “Did you know that we have bowling here at school, and we have outdoor bocce?” He says, “Bocce? What’s bocce?” I said, “It’s an Italian sport. They play it all over the world,” and so I describe it for him. Well, sure enough, that season, he went out and he wanted to play bocce, and he was all excited. And so, what he did was, his older brother also played, so he’s considered what’s called a Unified Partner. And so, Unified Partners are students that want to play a sport but they don’t have a disability, but they also support the students that do have an intellectual disability.

Angela Nadeau:

So, anyway, the long story short is it’s a very big team. It’s like 15 to 20 kids on this team, and they’re all excited, and they’re playing outside, and they go and they compete in the state tournament, and they win. They win the state championship. He comes back with a gold medal, it is announced everywhere, all over the intercom, they have a big, huge, banner presentation, his father was in tears, all this stuff. He’s like, “I would never have played unless you would’ve told me.” I said, “Well, Chase,” I said, “I wanted you to have an experience that meant something to you.” He says, “I got to play with my brother, I got new friends.” He says, “Look at this medal I have,” and he wore it to school, no joke, every day for like a month, till the end of the school year. He was so proud. He was so proud of that.

Angela Nadeau:

And so, that to me is something that he won’t forget. His father won’t forget it. His brother won’t forget it. It’s the experience that sports can bring, and they bring a school together, they bring a community together, they bring the kids together, and the pride that they have to know that. I mean, I was a varsity athlete from freshman year to senior year, and we didn’t have Unified Sports, so I don’t know what it means to not play a sport, and so now I get a chance to say, “Everybody can play. Do you want to play? Come and play. Here’s what you can do, and here’s how you can help.”

Angela Nadeau:

And so, our Unified Partners are kids. What they do is they also learn life skills on helping the children with intellectual disabilities, and how to be patient, how to be kind, and how to teach, because they end up being little coaches themselves. So, with that, during any state competition, a coach cannot coach, actually, while they’re on the court, but their Unified Partner can-

Kimberly Moy:

Oh, wow.

Angela Nadeau:

Yeah. That’s one of the rules. Right. And so, you see students that might be hearing impaired, or visually impaired, or in a wheelchair, or whatever it is, but their partners are the ones that are helping them and coaching them and guiding them. So, it is more student-led-

Kimberly Moy:

That is amazing.

Angela Nadeau:

… and more student-driven than it is adult-based, and that, to me, is what makes it special.

Kimberly Moy:

That is amazing.

Angela Nadeau:

Isn’t it?

Kimberly Moy:

Oh my goodness. To me, that is the whole reason. Like you said, back when we old-timers were in school, we didn’t have this. We didn’t have this opportunity, but [crosstalk 00:22:36] it feels right for the time, too. [crosstalk 00:22:40] It makes me sad that it never happened beforehand, but just to have opportunities, especially for the partners, too, it’s like no one is excluded, no one. It just-

Angela Nadeau:

Right, no one’s excluded.

Kimberly Moy:

That is the point, and it just… Oh, goodness. We talked a little bit about Washington D.C. I know you went up there to speak about the Special Olympics. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Angela Nadeau:

Sure. Absolutely. So, with [inaudible 00:23:08], and I’ll use… not use him, but Chase is the example. So, when I joined Special Olympics, we have an athlete leadership program. This is an extensive program for communities, and they’re usually for our older athletes, and they go out and do speaking engagements, and they are amazing. And so, what I learned was that Special Olympics across the country, all the delegates, they convene on Capitol Hill once a year to ask for financial support. And so, my athlete leadership director said to me, “Angela, would you be interested in this?” I said, “Where do I sign?” and he says, “But we would like to take high school [inaudible 00:23:56] to the interscholastic athletes,” and I said, “I know exactly where to go.”

Angela Nadeau:

So, I put a call in to Northeast High School again and I asked the coach of these athletes, and I asked the assistant athletic director, who was also one of my district reps, who also is the P.E. teacher of the year… I mean, this man is amazing, actually, both of these men… I said, “Hey guys, I need your help. This is what we’d like to do. Are you interested?” They were all in.

Angela Nadeau:

So, I took Chase, I took his brother, they came with their medals, they came with their dad, and I took the coach and the assistant athletic director and the rest of our Special Olympics Maryland contingency, and we went to Capitol Hill. So, we ended up in the Rayburn Building, where the legislators were, and we got a chance to speak to the Maryland Member of the House. His legal aid was there, legislative aid, sorry. And so, our athlete, she gave a presentation, and what the Special Olympics mean to her, and Chase also did his particular part. They took notes and they were very interested, but it was when we got a chance to take the tunnel, the secret tunnel underneath to go to Capitol Hill to the Senate side, we got a chance to actually meet Senator Van Hollen from Maryland.

Angela Nadeau:

He was ecstatic to meet us, shook all of our hands, was extremely gracious with his time, because there was a vote on the floor, and he got a chance to listen to Chase’s story and how Special Olympics has impacted him, and his father got a chance to speak, and the coaches got a chance to speak, so that they know what Special Olympics means, not just to our community program… again, so, usually when they get out of college or high school, when they’re 21 and over, the programs look different than they do in the high school level… but what it actually does at the high school level for them.

Angela Nadeau:

It is extremely impactful to hear it straight from the athlete’s mouth themselves, and then from the Unified Partner, and from the father, who said, “This is what it’s done for my boys.” You can’t help but just sit there with pride and just know that your senator heard every single word, he is on board, and he is going to fight for Special Olympics, when asking the U.S. Department of Education for more money that we need.

Angela Nadeau:

We have so much support, especially here in Maryland, that our funding doesn’t keep up with our demand. It keeps growing and growing and growing, and we’re like, “We can’t do this financially. We need some more help.” And so, that’s what our whole… Oh, yeah, so it’s the Department of Education we asked for help, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because Special Olympics, we have federal funding, and so, with that, what we say is that the U.S. government, we want them to deliver on their commitment to the taxpayers, to provide quality healthcare and education for all, including people with intellectual disabilities. So, that was our entire goal-

Kimberly Moy:

That is amazing.

Angela Nadeau:

It was such an experience, though, to be able to be in the building where decisions are made in our country, and that our students were there. I said to the boys, I said, “What would you be doing right now?” Chase was so funny. “I think I’d be in AP World History right now.” I said, “Well, look at you now,” and he goes, “Yeah, but I’d rather be here, Miss Nadeau.” I’m like, “Well, good, Chase. I’m glad you’d rather be here, not in class right now. Good answer, exactly.”

Kimberly Moy:

It is so crazy how Chase literally wouldn’t even have had that opportunity, this huge opportunity to meet and to go to Washington D.C., if this program didn’t exist. You ask, like, “How can it affect the lives of young people today?” We hear a lot about that in political times, but it’s here, it’s now, and it’s athletic directors, it’s people like yourself, it’s people who are passionate about athletics and also inclusion, that get these things done, because if not, I can’t even imagine. Lives are changed. That’s amazing. You’re amazing. Stop it.

Kimberly Moy:

Do you have anything else that you’d like to share about Unified Sports before we transition to the Ohio portion?

Angela Nadeau:

Well, just a couple last things. I guess I wanted everyone to know that Unified Champion Schools right now is in 7,500 schools across 50 states. So, as many as 3.6 million young people are taking part in inclusive experiences through Special Olympics. These are actual data collected and such, so about 286,000 school-age youth, with or without disabilities, participated in Unified Sports. The goal is to have 10,000 schools by 2024. So, we’re at 7,500 and that was the goal to reach by 2020, so by 2024 we want 10,000, so that’s an aggressive goal, but that is what we’re trying to establish. We’re trying, with what our programs are, trying to change culture, and that is socially inclusive school climates, free from teasing, bullying, and exclusion, through sports. I think we are doing a wonderful job, there. That’s basically what I wanted to talk about with all of our stuff. Thank you.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome. Well, we’re going to now transition over to how you even got to where you are, because that is just amazing stuff, so thank you so much for sharing that.

Kimberly Moy:

So, that was a great, great introduction, and just the tip of the iceberg for Unified Sports, but now I really wanted to transition to see how the Ohio program was able to help, Angela. So, on the screen here, you do see some of our program benefits, but that really doesn’t speak to anything about how the program prepares interscholastic athletic directors or just athletic directors of all sorts and all types of jobs in the athletic administration world for their careers.

Kimberly Moy:

So, Angela, can you talk a little bit about what you learned that helped you in your current job as a Director of Interscholastic Unified Sports?

Angela Nadeau:

Absolutely. So, one of the main reasons, first of all, that I decided to go with this program, A, I did a lot of research on a lot of different schools, and OU first of all offered everything online, which, for me, I needed, given the fact that I was head basketball coach and I was teaching full-time. I didn’t have the luxury of going to a campus anywhere near me. I don’t even know if anybody near me was offering anything remotely like this. It took me a very long time to decide what I wanted to do for a master’s program. I knew that [inaudible 00:31:35] to stay in education you definitely need a master’s degree. I had gone back and forth a million times between an administrator or just so many different ways to go. And so, I’m a late bloomer, if you will, getting my master’s, because I graduated with my undergrad in ’95, so that tells you how old I am.

Angela Nadeau:

And so, for me, this is something that I wanted to take my time on, and with OU, this program was marketed as one of the biggest and the best, not just in the nation, but it was global. And so, I took a hard look at what was offered, and I said, “This is obviously everything that I’m going to need to be successful.” Every single step of the way, from the introductory conversation with a specialist to all of the materials that I would be receiving online, were very well laid out. And so, you just have to take your time, be organized, be thoughtful, and with that, I looked at in some of these courses.

Angela Nadeau:

So, for instance, especially event planning. That is what I do in major form at the state level. Now, a lot of ADs will do things like a tournament or something on a smaller scale. So, what I do is magnified and I do it at the state level. I support ADs at their district level, in their county levels, whenever there’s a county championship, so I support them that way. So, I have to know the ins and the outs from the planning, from the beginning to the end. I do have some of that background, but again, it just reiterated the necessity for safety, for taking into consideration your food options and locations and signage and paperwork. You have to think about all those details.

Angela Nadeau:

Again, these courses are designed so that the AD understands your job is just more than scheduling. There’s more to your job than just talking to other ADs or training your coaches. All the components. But again, I just went back to, I used that as a management course, because that was huge and that’s what I do all the time. In all three of the seasons, with two sports per season, that’s what I eat, sleep, and breathe.

Angela Nadeau:

And then we have courses on budgets, and then we have things on marketing. All of those, again, components. So, if you walk away with basically this bag of knowledge, you are leaps and bounds over somebody who is trying to apply for the job that doesn’t have this background. And so, you definitely need to take a look at this particular program for all of the components that it offers. They don’t skip a step, that’s for sure.

Kimberly Moy:

Right, and I know that our partners at the NIAAA and NFHS, they offer LTC courses, but I think that Ohio’s master’s do stand out because it provides you so many more tools to equip athletic directors, like real athletic directors. The faculty that you learned under, they were real athletic directors who have been in the role. Granted, you’re in a little bit of a different role. Your role is not an athletic director in the sense that you’re working in high school-

Angela Nadeau:

[crosstalk 00:35:23]

Kimberly Moy:

… but you work with.

Angela Nadeau:

Right, right, yep.

Kimberly Moy:

Yes. But it still… I think that the skills you learn there, in terms of your leadership ability, your ability to communicate, were just grown by the program, and being able to get feedback from people like that. Can you tell me a little bit more about… What was it like with the faculty? I mean, people have this preconceived notion that online school, you’re basically teaching yourself.

Angela Nadeau:

Oh, yeah, no, you’re not teaching yourself anything. No, depending on the course, the interaction with our professors is [inaudible 00:36:06]. There are professors but they are more of a… they lead the industry because this is what they used to do. So, in more along the lines of mentors, more than anything. They know what’s coming, they know what to expect, and they know what you’re going to see.

Angela Nadeau:

So, for a first year AD, there are going to be growing pains unless you have someone who preceded you. Your predecessor gave you… If he gave you a footprint, boy, you’re in good shape, but if you’re walking in and you’ve never done the job, you have to rely on the tools that each of these guys have given you ahead of time to refer back to, and that’s one of the things I learned is I printed out all my manuals. If I ever need a reference point, I go back and I use those manuals all the time. They’re also good resources, too. I mean, so, if I had a question I would go, and I could go back and ask these guys, or I go and I go and talk to now my current athletic director friends and say, “Okay, here’s the situation.” Even during class, even taking my classes, I had lots of questions.

Angela Nadeau:

So, I would rely on the guys in the job to say, “Hey, what are you doing?” But what I did learn was a lot of the things that we were learning, some of the ADs that I would ask aren’t doing. So, I kind of was like, “Wow, okay. This isn’t being done. Why isn’t this being done?” So, we always have to not be complacent in our jobs, and learn that everything we do is for the students, for the welfare of the students and for the betterment of the school and the school system. So, the tools that OU gives us just reminded me that if it hadn’t been done before and it needs to be done, that I need to do this, and I need to do this for the protection of the kids. And so, I questioned my peers often, and I said, “Why aren’t you guys doing this?” Sometimes they’d answer, sometimes they wouldn’t.

Angela Nadeau:

But working with these guys, and again, I think the only female I had was Kelly, so when I say guys I mean with the team, we could email them, they are very responsive, we could send text messages, we could call. And so, we would have some times we would be able to interact using Google Hangout, we could talk to each other. That’s why we, when you first get on board, you need your laptop, you need a camera, you need to be able to do all those things. So, not only were we doing that with teams, but you are also doing that with each other.

Angela Nadeau:

Some of my people in my class, they were all the way out in Idaho. So, I am on a different time zone, so we had to work together at different times in different time zones, and make our projects work for each other. So, those are all those communication channels that you learn along the way, and again you can’t go into a program like this and not be dedicated from the start. It’s going to be tough because there’s high expectations. You’re not just dealing with a bachelor’s degree now, you’re dealing at a higher level, so your expectations are much higher.

Kimberly Moy:

Right. Yeah-

Angela Nadeau:

So, we, as a group, maintained that high level of expectations with each other and we pushed each other, as did they. They pushed us a lot. But in the end, it was very much worth it.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome. It’s interesting because we mentioned the faculty but also your fellow students. Everyone is already in the industry, or trying to break into the industry, so it’s a good network to rely on, but it’s also a good way to meet other people and do great things and learn from each other, so I really like that story.

Kimberly Moy:

You said that you were currently working while you were in the online program. Can you tell me a little bit about your work-life balance? I know you mentioned organization and time management and communication. Yeah, tell me about that.

Angela Nadeau:

Those are keys, exactly. So, I was a special educator at Northeast, and so I was teaching… Geez, I had three different sides, so that, you know, for the education world, they’ll know I had three preps. With that, I also had EPs to write, individual academic educational program plans for students, so I had a 15 case load. And so, these are very time-consuming, data-driven pieces that I needed to construct, and all the progress reports and everything, and then coach varsity basketball on top of that, and I was a single mom.

Angela Nadeau:

So, I had a [crosstalk 00:41:02] now, and so he was 7 when I started, and this kid plays four sports, [inaudible 00:41:10], right? Because that’s what mom does. No, he would come to practice, he would come to games, and then we’d sit at our kitchen table, and mom is working on statistics, and he’s working on third grade math.

Angela Nadeau:

So, you got the chance to see that mommy was in school. I kind of actually used that when I would be in the classroom or be on the court, and I’d say, “I understand how hard everything is, because I’m in school, too,” and I can use that as a teaching moment, because that’s so much going on, all at the same time, especially during basketball season, in that we would be given an assignment, and you have a week to do it. Well, if you wait till Sunday at six, and it’s due at midnight, and some of these things required multiple steps and multiple pages of things, you can’t do something like that at six o’clock at night. So, I had to devote, for me, anyways, I devoted at least two to four hours every day doing something, whether it’s reading, whether it’s writing, whether it’s editing, whether it’s something. And so, it’s a long two years, and it’s a lot of work, and it’s not something… Well, I’m just saying it’s not something that you’re going to go into and expect it to be what you thought your bachelor’s degree was. You’re working at a higher level, so the expectations are that much more.

Angela Nadeau:

But, again, if you follow what the team is telling you as to how to plan for it, and if you’re not one of those people that’s very organized, reach out to someone. How do you do this? How do you organize this? There are times where I’m reading the instructions for something, and I’m not kidding, and there’s multiple levels and layers to a particular project. I would print it out, first of all, and then I would take it apart, so that I could focus on one section at a time, so that perhaps… If you put it all together it was overwhelming, but if I took a little chunk of it at a time, then it wasn’t so bad, then I could go, “Okay. I can handle this right now and then put it away, and then come back to it the next section the next day, and then put it away.” Something along those lines.

Angela Nadeau:

But then, and this happens too, sometimes it didn’t work out that way because life takes over, and then I’m scrambling, and I’m not kidding when I say I was up until 11:59. I got it in under the gun, and I [inaudible 00:44:00] do those things, too. I’m not the perfect student, but I’m also not 18 years old anymore. So, with that, I had a whole different perspective, and my expectations for myself were to come out of there with a 4.0, and I didn’t, but I came out with a 3.75, so I was pretty darn proud-

Kimberly Moy:

Not bad.

Angela Nadeau:

… with the work that I put in. Absolutely.

Kimberly Moy:

Yeah. Being an online student… Well, first of all, talking about your schedule and how you were able to compartmentalize but also break down, that seems to be the key, and I can’t imagine if you were doing an on-campus program, having to travel and do all that, so it sounds like online is the way to go for working professionals, but also it’s like, wow. [crosstalk 00:44:49] Breaking it down is certainly-

Angela Nadeau:

Everybody’s going to look at it different, and have different styles and different methods in how you learn, and that’s the other part, is that online learning is one way to learn. Not everything… A lot of everything you’re going to do is read. So, reading isn’t something for me that I can read something and retain it, and had never been my strong suit, but that’s the whole crux of this program. And so, even when you are “interacting” with your classmates, you’re doing it via email, and you’re doing it via group discussion boards and things like that, so you’re still reading.

Angela Nadeau:

That is the one component that you don’t get is that in-classroom conversation that you could have back and forth, and the ability to have an instant answer, or that interaction that way. So, it’s flat. It’s on paper. Every now and again you can do a Google Hangout and you can do those kinds of things, but that wasn’t the norm. People have to understand that you have your PowerPoint presentations, you have videos to watch, you have all the tools that you need to be successful. A lot of it’s going to be reading. So, you’ve got to be diligent about reading and making sure that you do whatever it is for you the way that you learn and get what you need out of it.

Kimberly Moy:

Yes, I would agree with that. One more good thing I want to bring up about Ohio’s program is you take one class at a time. I can’t even imagine taking the full suite.

Angela Nadeau:

No, I know, right? [crosstalk 00:46:42]

Kimberly Moy:

So, we have one class at a time for seven-week increments, so you’re still getting two classes per semester, but as a working professional, that one class-

Angela Nadeau:

I love that. Yep.

Kimberly Moy:

Yeah, agreed.

Angela Nadeau:

Exactly. It was doable. It was just enough. I don’t think I could’ve handled any more than that, and then there were some classes that were actually six weeks long. They didn’t need the full seven, so you get an extra week off. So, believe me, that week off in between, it’s like I shut my computer down, I watched TV. I was like, “Oh, [crosstalk 00:47:18].”

Kimberly Moy:

What is that?

Angela Nadeau:

I never had time. What is that? Did all those things, kind of got caught up on laundry. No, I’m kidding, I do laundry all the time. [crosstalk 00:47:28]

Kimberly Moy:

So, one thing, you mentioned that because it’s online, you do the discussion boards, and you’re interacting via electronic means, but another interesting thing about Ohio’s MAA program is the Athletic Leadership Forum, which takes place in Athens, Ohio, on the Ohio University campus. Were you able to attend that event?

Angela Nadeau:

I did, yes. I loved it.

Kimberly Moy:

Oh, and it must’ve been-

Angela Nadeau:

It was incredible, and I’ll tell you why, because again, we’re all part of a cohort. That’s another good thing about this program that I really like. You can start any time. You could start in the summer, you could start in the fall, or you could start in the spring. Wherever you are, the program is designed so that all the courses are the same but they’re just offered in consecutive order just going in different directions depending on when you start. So, I opted to start in the summer of 2017, and so I finished in the summer of 2019.

Angela Nadeau:

And so, with that, I was placed, in the Leadership Forum, with the people that I was already taking classes with, so I get to see them face-to-face. And then, we talked to others that were either before, so the ones coming in behind us, and talk about this class, or that class, and then we had an opportunity, through group discussions and exercises and all kinds of varying things to A, get to know each other, pick each other up and keep going and do a little rah-rah for each other kind of a thing, and then it’s like we got to be college kids all over again, because you’re on that agenda.

Angela Nadeau:

I loved Athens. Oh my goodness. It reminded me of where I grew up and it was just like it’s a perfect little college town. So, all the way around, the setting for everything was just the atmosphere that you would expect. Just kind of like a “Here’s where you’re at, you’re half way done, and just keep going. You’re almost there.” I think that’s kind of what that also provided.

Angela Nadeau:

So, you got to put names to faces to the people who were teaching you. They actually started one of the courses, and unfortunately I don’t remember which one it was, while we were there, so that we could get a head start into what we were learning, so that was really helpful, and just to listen to people who were already in the industry, and talking about what was happening in their school, those of us who were trying to break in, what does that look like, and then being a woman in the industry, what does that look like for us. So, just different levels and layers and such, but all the way around, it’s a positive three days, and I miss that. I’d like to come back another time, just to be the one to say, “You got this,” like be the speaker and just be like [crosstalk 00:50:41].

Kimberly Moy:

Well, be careful what you wish for.

Angela Nadeau:

I know, right? I know, I know, I know. But no, it’s fantastic.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome.

Kimberly Moy:

So, I want to be cognizant of your time and our listeners’ time, so wrapping up real quick, what is the one piece of advice that you would give someone who wants to either get involved with athletic administration, either get involved with Unified Sports, or get involved with Ohio University? Is there one sentence that sums up your experience altogether?

Angela Nadeau:

Well, [inaudible 00:51:13] three different choices of what’s the one sentence. To get involved with Unified Sports, I would say to anybody, volunteer at your local Special Olympics events. Find something to volunteer, to get the full experience.

Angela Nadeau:

Those that are interested in becoming an OU student, do your homework. Go and look at what other schools offer, but understand the value that OU offers because of its history, its legacy, and the resources that are provided. There isn’t anybody that’s going to match that. If you want to become an athletic director, you have to understand that it is a full commitment to sports, to your district, to understanding that it is not a typical go into school and then you leave school at the end of the day. No, your day is just beginning when four o’clock hits, because you’ve got soccer going, and then you’ve got perhaps class potentially and all that. So, understand that when you want to be involved in sports, you are immersed in it, for the love of the game and the love of the school and the kids. So, if you’re going to do this, have the time and the commitment to put it all together.

Kimberly Moy:

That’s awesome. Well, thank you, Angela, thank you so much for your time. I hope our students will get involved with Unified Schools or even make the decision to come to Ohio University, so thank you again so much for your time today.

Angela Nadeau:

Thank you for having me.

Kimberly Moy:

Thank you, Angela. Thank you all also so much for joining us today. We are currently recruiting for our summer term, summer 2020, but if you’re not interested in summer we also have starting terms in the fall and the spring, so three term intakes a year. If you have any further questions about Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration, here you can see our contact information, both our phone number as well as our email address and our web address. So, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we certainly look forward to speaking with you soon. So, thank you, everyone, for joining us today and we hope you have a great day.