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SM graduate follows interests, passion to drive his career path

Joe Abel, Physical Education/Sports Management, B.S. (1985), believes that a college degree helps prepare students to become better learners in business and life. Abel serves as the director of Leisure Services with the Seminole County Government, Seminole County, FL, outside the Orlando area.  

Abel credits the sports focus of his education in expanding his knowledge and understanding of a multitude of different sports, the game and comprehending how to administer sports programs and facilities.   His career experience ranges from managing athletics, pools and community centers to a department that is now made up of libraries, extension, natural lands, trails and parks. His professional experience began in his home state of West Virginia and has continued for the past 28 years in Florida.  

“The classes I took at WVU prepared me for the business acumen of working in government, although working in government wasn’t really on my radar at the time. I was one of the dreamers who thought I would work in professional sports,” Abel explained.  

Abel’s professors helped guide him through his academic career. “My greatest mentor would, without a doubt, have to have been Dr. Bill Alsop. He helped me navigate the transition from a business related degree to a sports management related degree. He helped me stay focused. Other professors and coaches such as Dr. Dana Brooks and former WVU Baseball Coach Dale Ramsburg, provided direction and leadership to keep me on track,” he said.  

Abel has earned multiple awards, served in numerous leadership roles and gained national recognition throughout his career. “I tell young professionals every chance I get, that I owe all of my professional advancement opportunities to my involvement and engagement in the state and national professional associations. Without this, I would not have met leaders in the profession who shared their wisdom and opportunities, allowing me to grow and advance,” Abel added.  

Abel has more advice for students. “Focus on your education while in school and look for opportunities to utilize your education to do what you love. Stay focused, engaged and always look for and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. You never know which one may lead to greatness and success,” he explained.  

“And lastly, I live by this mantra: Make good, educated, solid choices. Mix those with reasonable and calculated risks, through disciplined passion and executable plans and you will surely achieve greatness and success . Or, as someone else told me: Understand – Perform – Master.”

Abel is a native of West Virginia and knows that no matter where he roams, his home will always be among the West Virginia hills. 

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