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Online master’s student combines academics with sports industry experience

A College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences online sport management graduate student is expanding his resume through an internship at the professional sports level. Tyler Pastorius, sport management master’s major with an emphasis on comprehensive sport industry management (projected graduation, May 2022), focuses on various marketing-related responsibilities with the Dallas Stars.

Justin Wartella, sport management teaching assistant professor, says the CPASS on-line master’s program connects theory to practice for the population of busy, working professionals who are pursuing a graduate degree. “It is so diverse in terms of the student population who are located across the country. Students work in different facets of the industry, including high school sports, college, professional, Olympic, facilities, operations and community sports,” Wartella said.

“These cohorts bring their practical experiences to the interactive and engaging on-line classes and learn from each other. Although it is a virtual setting, due to the nature of the classes, our unique program and the commitment of our faculty, I believe a great collegial community has been built amongst faculty, current students and proud alumni.”

As the ticketing sales intern with the Central Division, Western Conference NHL team, Pastorius says he performs outbound calls to leads about ticket plans for Stars games. “I identify new customers, maintain electronic records of customer relationship management database, attend and work various duties at games and attend and work ticketing sales, service and marketing events,” he said. The team now plays in the American Airlines Center and moved to Dallas in 1993, evolving from the Minnesota North Stars team.

Pastorius says that even though his courses have all been online, Justin Wartella, CPASS teaching assistant professor, made him feel immediately welcomed as part of the Mountaineer family. “Everyone responds to instruction (and instructors) differently but finding someone you enjoy and can pick their brain is huge. Professor Wartella keeps a virtual “open door policy” for every student in his courses,” Pastorius said. “He even takes part in the weekly discussion posts. I think this shows how much Dr. Wartella truly cares about his students and how much he is willing to help.”

WVU and CPASS provided an instant connection to the program, school and faculty when Pastorius was seeking a high-performing sports management master’s program. “Everyone truly embodies the mountaineer way of thinking. That was something that stood out to me. It wasn’t just a saying, mascot, or colors to students, faculty or alumni,” Pastorius said. “Even though I knew my program was going to be online, I wanted to feel a connection and be comfortable with the program that I picked.”

Pastorius says that CPASS helped him develop his career goals by providing a highly respected education with instructors who offer valuable information and professional connections. “The program courses are catered toward the industry and help you expand on the knowledge you may already have,” he said.

“In the long run, this has allowed me to continue to learn in and out of the virtual classroom. Being involved in the sports industry, everything is competitive, but at the same time, if you are on the same team everyone wants to help. That is evident with the CPASS team and faculty at WVU.”

As an online student, Pastorius says it can be challenging to receive the “traditional” hands-on experience that the on-campus student may experience. “The work skills I was able to learn and grow while going through the program have truly helped me. I was formerly a manager at Oculus VR (which was owned and operated by Facebook) and a manager at Google,” he said.

“Being a supervisor at a young age with companies that are held in high regard was something I benefited from. I learned about management in a working environment. It may not have been sports but there are aspects that I have transferred to my work and personal life.”

The San Francisco Bay area native tells students not to give up and continue to strive for more. “Personally, as someone who was working in a different industry completely unrelated to sports, it was hard to land a job in the sports business. There were thoughts of giving up,” Pastorius said. “But knowing what my end goal was while pushing myself to obtain what I wanted in life from a personal and professional standpoint was critical for success.”

Pastorius suggests that aspiring sports industry profession students identify their motivations and use that as “bulletin board material.” He advises students to grow their network and remember that someone is always watching. “This will teach you that every person you meet is potentially conducting an interview with you. You never know how they can help you in the future,” he said.

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