When Ian Gentile decided to expand his knowledge of the sports industry, he chose WVU. The program has given him a clear understanding of the business side of the industry, as well as adding an intercollegiate spin to his game. Gentile appreciates the personalized approach and unique six-week course format as he advances through the graduate degree.
What program are you enrolled in at WVU?
Sport Management (IAA-online)
How did you become interested in this field of study?
I have worked in the hockey operations department for the Chicago Blackhawks for over a decade. I was interested in furthering my education to include an understanding of sports business, as well as intercollegiate sport.
What is your current position? Please describe what you do in a typical day.
I am the senior manager, player development for the Chicago Blackhawks. I work with our player development staff on individualized development plans for our prospects, act as the primary point of contact for numerous hockey and development technologies, monitor player progress and am responsible for the administration of the annual development camp.
What is your favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?
The most rewarding element of my job is watching our work in player development translate to a successful professional career. It is very rewarding being a part of the reason why a young athlete realizes his dream of playing in the NHL. We are always hopeful that this results in wins for the Blackhawks.
The most challenging element of my job relates to issues of time management. Although our schedule is very cyclical in nature, there are times of peak activity and of relative calm. If one can take advantage of the quiet times and plan ahead, the hectic portions of the season can become more manageable.
Why did you choose WVU?
My answer here is twofold. First, I have found all faculty and staff members at WVU to be helpful, professional and courteous in the extreme. My interactions with these people have been a delight. Friendly professors and helpful staff make for a tremendous experience. I feel as though I have a lot of support in this program.
Beyond that, I believe strongly in the six-week course format. Having been ten years removed from my undergraduate experience, I was nervous about a return to academe. By enrolling in just one course every six weeks, I have been able to manage my time effectively and put the full thrust of my focus into one topic at a time. This unique format has made the program very easy to navigate.
How does this graduate degree fit in to your life plans?
Following the completion of this program, I hope to continue my work with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, it is nice to know that in obtaining a graduate degree in sport management, I will effectively double my perspective job opportunities with a unique qualification to work in both professional and intercollegiate sport.
What have you learned (or are learning) that has made the biggest impact in your work?
I have developed a true appreciation for the business side of sport. Having worked on the operations side of the industry for over a decade, I have been able to develop an understanding of what it takes to succeed on the ice. This degree has provided me with a strong foundational understanding of the other side of the sport and I have been able to engage in meaningful conversations with my colleagues. It is nice to know that I will now be equipped to work on the business arm of the organization if ever asked.