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Self-determination helps Sport Management grad accomplish career goals

Michael Stokes was the first member of his family to earn a bachelor's degree from a major university. Growing up in a small town, Stokes worked hard to succeed. Through perseverance, the Norvelt, Pa. native says has realized his early career dreams. 

Stokes, B.S. sport management (2020), secured a position following graduation as an assistant equipment manager for the WVU baseball and basketball teams. “Landing my dream job right out of college at the age of 26 is truly a blessing. I still can’t believe I get to wake every day and do what I do,” Stokes said.

Stokes, who graduated magna cum laude, credits mentors Gary Lhotsky, CPASS sport management teaching associate professor, Kyle Keesler, head equipment manager for the men’s and women's basketball teams along with the baseball team and David Shapero, head student manager and data analytics coordinator for WVU baseball for their guidance. In spring 2019, Lhotsky took Stokes and his classmates to visit Milan Puskar Stadium. During the tour, Lhotsky highlighted details of running a sports team from the front office to the field crew and how to treat the grass or turf. 

Stokes met Keesler and Shapero in summer 2018 while he was interning for the West Virginia Black Bears as a clubhouse assistant. Keesler and Shapero, who work for the WVU baseball team, later helped Stokes in obtaining his current job. “Ever since then, Kyle and David have become more than just my bosses or coworkers. They are my best friends. I can’t thank them enough for the help and guidance they have given me during my time at WVU,” said Stokes. 

Stokes suggests that aspiring sport management majors get ‘uncomfortable.’ “The more comfortable you are, the less likely you’re going to achieve your goals,” he said. 

Stokes emphasizes the importance of networking, asking questions and gaining hands-on experience. He is grateful for his two summer internships. “Work at positions you may not find exciting. I interned as a videographer for Fairmont State men’s basketball program. It was fun but just wasn’t something I found interesting or a passion of mine,” he said.
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