United States Sports Academy
America's Sports University®

The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Sport Management is the Largest Field of Study at the United States Sports Academy

Introduction By Dr. William Johnson

This column is designed to identify nontraditional sport management opportunities for practicing professionals and USSA students and graduates. It is not intended to be a job placement column, but rather a new twist on applying the skills of the sport manager.

As it is spring here in Alabama, and since the United States Sports Academy campus is located on the beautiful eastern shore of Mobile bay feeding into the Gulf of Mexico, it is only fitting to discuss water-based opportunities in this first column. This issue’s contribution comes from Dr. Gayle Bush of Troy State University and Dr. Mike Hall of The University of North Alabama. Dr. Hall lives and teaches classes on swimming, boating, sailing, and skiing from his lakefront house on Wilson Lake. Their discussion of aquatic school training reminds us to seek opportunity in our own “sport-passion” endeavors.

Aquatic Schools For The 21st Century

Anyone who has been in the aquatic field for a long time knows about aquatic schools, or aquatic program schools. Professionals in swimming, lifeguarding and small craft would meet together for 2 weeks acquiring certifications, networking and for the sheer fun of it. A lake, ocean or pool would be the site of intensive study to hone the skills of an aquatic leader. Time was planned for interaction when water specialists could share ideas and learn new activities to supplement curriculum. The intrinsic and extrinsic value was apparent. After a 2-week intensive, everyone left feeling refreshed and renewed, not to mention recertified, in his or her aquatic specialties.

Unfortunately high quality aquatic schools today are few and far between. Perhaps the time commitment and cost involved in a 2-week program are too much for many professionals. With the demands of job and family, getting away for a 2-week conference is rare, if not impossible. How can aquatic professionals of the 21st century pull together for the benefits of the old aquatic schools, without the 2-week intensive workshop? Are there ways to make a program school even better? Here a couple of ideas to apply toward an aquatic school for the future.

First, make use of the amazing technology available to eliminate long hours of classroom time. On-line classrooms or distance learning labs like those in use at the United States Sports Academy, or videos could save an entire week of the aquatic professional’s time away from work and family. Instructors of the various courses could facilitate on-line discussions. If the classes could result in academic or CEU credit, the benefits would be even greater. Using this technological “virtual approach” would certainly reduce the cost for aquatic professionals, as they will not be missing a full two weeks of work. In addition, this approach makes it possible for people to participate in an aquatic school who may otherwise not consider it.
Next, site selection is a critical element of the “hands-on” school success. In previous years, the two-week school may have met in a rustic, out of the way location. Perhaps, where only a lake or pool was available for lab work. An ideal site would include access to a beach, lake and pool. Pleasant accommodations should be available to facilitate interaction between these aquatic professionals who have been learning together via technology for previous weeks. It certainly would be exciting for the class participants to finally meet, to work through skills, meet equipment manufacturers, tryout new equipment, and share ideas with others in the field. Time would be allotted for critical skill application and testing. The site should lend itself to meeting the needs of the certification requirements, as well as other to providing opportunity for leisure activities. A typical day might have lab time from 8am to 2pm, and then have recreational options available for networking and leisure. Organized social activities in the evening would continue to provide an opportunity for classmates to bond as in the old aquatic schooldays. To 21st century aquatic specialists, a five-day “hands-on” lab in an inviting location, which could provide activity and leisure options for family members, would be quite appealing.

Finding the time and money to stay abreast of the latest aquatic equipment, techniques and research and trying to keep your skills sharp may be difficult, but it is imperative. Having certified professionals in aquatics to teach and train others must be of utmost importance. The aquatic school could be an invaluable resource for the aquatic professionals in park recreation, schools, fitness clubs or camps. By using time wisely via technology and creating a “hands-on” lab experience that promotes professional development while at the same time enables participants to enjoy family leisure time, the aquatic school becomes a win-win opportunity.

Editor comments

Who wouldn’t arrange their family vacation at a luxurious aquatic site where boat, jet ski, parasail, water ski, and fishing equipment manufacturers give you small group or private instruction on the latest product line and techniques, then let you try it out in the afternoon with your family. Sounds great, doesn’t it?