MA in Athletic Leadership: Student Spotlight Webinar

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Join us as Rider student, Michael Petrowski, discusses his experience in Rider University’s MA in Athletic Leadership program. Learn about his recently accepted internship with the Trenton Thunder and how he can apply his learnings to his career.

Transcript

AJ:

Hello everybody, good morning – or afternoon I should say at this point, thank you for joining us today for our Alumni Spotlight webinar. We’re going to be talking with Rider alumni, Michael Petrowski. My name is AJ. I’m one of the enrollment advisors here at Rider University. So we’re going to talk about some basic things about the university. Going over the Athletic Leadership program and about Mike’s experiences.

AJ:

Don’t forget. We do have a live Q&A box at the bottom of the presentation here. So if you have any questions as we go through, please make sure to jot those down in there, so we can address them for you. And without further ado, let’s go ahead and move on. Let me introduce Mike.

AJ:

Mike, take it away.

Mike Petrowski:

Hey, how Are you? My name is Mike Petrowski. I’m a local guy from Hamilton, New Jersey. I went to Steinert High School. And then during my recruiting process to be a baseball player, I say I had about four or five places I could have went, and I decided to, to choose the local one here at Rider. And it was probably hands down the best decision I made. We ended up winning the championship. Obviously I’m coaching here again, and I’m getting my master’s degree here. So it all worked out for the better. And I couldn’t ask for a better experience.

AJ:

For sure. Awesome. All right. So real quick, let’s get into a little bit about Rider University as a whole. So we were established in 1865. So over 150 years of providing quality education, a lot of students will see online programs and be aware of being an established program. We definitely have that.

AJ:

We try to keep our student to faculty ratios as low as possible. Right now it’s sitting at about a 10 to 1. So if you’re looking for that personal feel, so you know that you’re getting the attention that you need, this is definitely going to be the place for you. And again, quality education is something that we focus on. So 97% of our faculty do hold doctoral degrees or the highest degree available in their field.

AJ:

And another big thing that students are going to be looking for, that you should be looking for, is accreditation. We are regionally accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. So looking for those types of things are going to help you pick the program that’s right for you.

AJ:

Now more specifically into the athletic leadership program. So it’s 100% online. There’s no requirement to be on campus, even though everything is going to be available to you. Everything could be done online. We do have several tracks for you to choose from. So if you’re looking to go into administration, coaching, psychology, or if you’re just looking for a general career exploration track, we have that available as well.

AJ:

The way that we designed the program, it’s possible to be done in less than two years. So if you’re looking for something speedy, this is definitely going to be something that you want to look into, as well as flexible. So we have seven start dates that you can choose from throughout the year, that will work best with your schedule, especially with different sports.

AJ:

Mike, you’re not going to start a program in the Spring when you’re getting ready for Spring training in the summer, right?

Mike Petrowski:

No.

AJ:

No, Yeah. So definitely plenty of options available for you, and a lot of career opportunities. What I’d like to take a second now and do is, I want to ask you Mike, talk to me about your time before Rider. So you played baseball in high school, you get recruited, what was that process like? And what was your thought process going, before you came to Rider in the first place?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, I would say it was stressful, trying to get a scholarship. You work your whole life, pretty much from little league on up, to be the best you can, to try it get a athletic scholarship. With that being said, I wasn’t the smartest guy, but I did end up getting some academic money. You have to make sure if you’re going to be an athlete, you have to keep your grades up. We’re recruiting guys now that we literally just cannot get in the school, just because the grades are not there. I think my parents helped me do a good job with it. I’ve had a few tutors along the way to help me with SATs and everything else.

Mike Petrowski:

And then, as far as picking schools, West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, was a little far for me. St Peter’s, it was a different environment. I was actually born in Jersey city. So Rider was the last one. And as soon as I stepped on campus, it just felt like more homey. I didn’t really feel uncomfortable. I knew my family and my friends could come watch me. Once I walked around the campus and met the coaches, I really made my decision pretty quick. My senior year was stress-free. I didn’t have to worry about really proving to anybody I could play, because I already committed.

AJ:

Awesome. And so talk to us a little bit about your undergraduate experience. You’re on campus, being an athlete, what was that like?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, it was a little different for me because I actually commuted after my freshman year. My freshman year I was on campus. I think it’s time management is the biggest issue. My first semester, I think I struggled with it a little bit. Your first time you’re away from everybody and you feel you can do whatever you want. That coach Davis, who’s still here now, instill that in us. And that really got me going. Especially in the spring, when I started taking classes while playing baseball, I really had to plan my day out. Starting from the time I woke up to when I went to bed. And that’s helped me now in my master’s degree with a lot more going on now. A lot going on.

AJ:

Got you. And so what made you want to come back to get your master’s degree? So you already finished the undergrad. What was your degree in by the way, when you graduated?

Mike Petrowski:

Communications, radio, TV, track.

AJ:

Okay, cool. So what made you decide to want to come back and get your master’s degree here as well, since you already got your undergrad here?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. As a college baseball coach, that’s one of the unwritten rules to be a Division 1 head coach, you need a master’s degree. So I’d be lying if I told you that was not the main reason. And then I’ll be honest with you, when I started doing this program, it was so much more. I’ve applied so many things so far, I’ve took in six classes that I’ve never even heard of. I debated on doing other master’s degrees, and this was a no brainer. I actually found out about it late, because coach Davis actually taught a class, and he was like, “Mike, why don’t you do this? It’s going to help your career as well? And it’s hands down the best thing I ever done.

Mike Petrowski:

Yesterday in our games, I’ve used a lot of the tactics that I’ve learned. Professors like Dr. Bersovitch, they’d been unbelievable. Just opening my eyes to things I really didn’t know, I was kind of blind to.

AJ:

Definitely. So let’s get into, you’re in your master’s program now. What’s that like? I mean, time management we’ve already talked about, how does that play into online classes while coaching? What’s a day in the life for you now as a grad student and a coach.

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. With two kids at home and one on the way, coaching Division 1 baseball-

AJ:

Congratulations.

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. Thank you. And then on top of that doing lessons on the side, private lessons, I think you learn after a while you better have time management, or you’ll forget two or three things. You won’t be able to see a T-ball game. You won’t be able to see a gymnastics class. And then my work suffers as well.

Mike Petrowski:

So what I’ve basically done, I get this question from recruits a lot too, “How am I going to have time to do my work?” For example, yesterday I’m on a bus for six hours. If you can’t, bang out a couple assignments there, then you probably have more issues. There’s definitely time in the day.

Mike Petrowski:

There’s some downtime, even if it’s from 11:00 to 01:00, during my lunch, and I get away from the house and I shut the door and I just get work done. But I think really planning the day out as far, I think I mentioned it before, as far as when I get up, I do recruiting stuff. I do my stuff for the pitchers, their program. And then 11:00 to 01:00 I do my master’s degree, and then I go to practice, and then I do lessons, and then I have family time at the end.

Mike Petrowski:

But I think a lot of people say they’re going to plan things out and they don’t really do it. I’m a victim of that as well. I used to do the same thing. I said I’ve planned things out, but I didn’t really do it. And so I started actually writing my day. And I’m a visual guy, I actually have to see it. In my iPhone, I have a note section, every day I change it, weekly I change it, what I’m doing that day.

AJ:

Let’s get into the actual classroom portion of it. How do you feel about the things are set up in Canvas, going to class online as opposed to in the classroom?

Mike Petrowski:

Well, I’ll tell you what, Rider does an unbelievable job. When, you sign up for a class, it is in the Canvas, I think a month or so in advance, maybe more. So I can actually, all the professors are so on top of things, I can see the syllabus beforehand. So I could actually do some reading. I can get the book, and you could actually get ahead in the game easily.

Mike Petrowski:

For example, my summer one class, I think comes up May 19th, it starts. I’ve had the syllabus for over a month, at least. So there’s really no excuses at all. All the professors do a great job of laying it out, what the due dates are, how much each assignment is worth, discussion posts. But the online has been great for me.

Mike Petrowski:

The professors get back to my emails immediately. I’ve never had an issue, chasing somebody down. They’re very flexible, as you know. If you’re busy, as long as you communicate with professors, they’re very understanding. I think that’s a big thing. Once I’ve had, I think my first class, I missed the due date. I had three games in a row and I missed the due date. I was pretty much straight up honest with them. And then they understood. I think you just got to be professional, and you got to be trustworthy, and they’ll work with you.

AJ:

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think we do a good job of finding good professors. Nobody has a professor that’s out to fail them. Everybody’s trying to help get you to that next level. And I would agree, I think if you’re, like you said, honest, just upfront, and professionalism, professors will be more than willing.

AJ:

I know you’ve been saying that you’ve been able to apply a lot of what you’ve been learning through the program already in your career, what are some of those assignments like? What is a typical lesson plan look like? Or what are some of the things that you’ve learned so far in the program?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. It’s great because when you do an assignment, for example, our trainer actually on the bus yesterday was actually one of my professors, and the athletic training, I really had no idea what they go through protocol wise, and what they have to deal with. So there’ll be an assignment, I’d say, two three pages, and then you actually have to comment on a discussion post or two, which is great. Because a lot of times, I’m new to this whole thing. I haven’t been in school in 10 years. And I think I’m doing an assignment right. And then I look at other people’s like, “Wow, that’s a lot better than mine.” So I think looking at the discussion posts and then people give you feedback is really… So every class I’ve been in they’ve done that, which I think is a great idea, the discussion posts.

Mike Petrowski:

It’s been very interactive and I think people are at the level, most of the coaches or people in this program are coaches or athletic directors. So they understand that communication is big. I’ll go into that a little later, but I think this program, for me personally, has really improved my communication.

Mike Petrowski:

I’m a pitching coach here. I think a lot of the things I assumed they knew and they really didn’t. And classes, I’ll talk about it again. Applied sports psychology really helped me listen and communicate. And I think our guys are appreciating it.

AJ:

Definitely. Absolutely. A lot of the times with athletes, we don’t think about the psychology that goes in and the struggle. Especially with baseball, one of the craziest sports schedules, you got to get over stuff quick and that can take a toll. So absolutely, I think that’s a great thing that we’ve got going out there.

AJ:

So talk to me a little bit about your time after undergrad, before you decided to come to grad school, what was that like, playing baseball and onward?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. I played three years professionally after I graduated Rider: New Jersey Jackals, Brockton Rox, and New York Bears. I was actually lucky. My dad actually drives a train for a living. So I ended up getting on trains for free.

AJ:

Oh, nice.

Mike Petrowski:

So my commute to New Jersey Jackals didn’t cost me as much money. And I was able to live at home, eat home cooked meals. And then after that, once I felt I couldn’t get into affiliated ball, then I knew my calling was coaching. So I coached eight years at High School Hamilton West for four, Nottingham for four. And then during that time, I coached six years Broad Street Park Legion, which is summer ball. Where we won a state championship there. And then that kind of propelled me into getting the Junior College job at Rowan college, Burlington County, formerly Burlington County College. I did that two years ago.

Mike Petrowski:

And I think that experience hands down, if there’s any coaches in here, if you could coach at a Junior College, do it. You’re buying your own stuff, you pretty much learn how to be a man quickly. You’re buying your own stuff, you’re doing your own stuff. There’s no one that holds your hand. And you’re not getting too much help. Even though I thought the Director was great. You’re not getting a lot of financial help. It kind of really prepared me, even though I’m assistant right now, it really prepared me hopefully for the future to be a Division 1 head coach. And learning that you’re not going to be handed things. You’re not going to be given things. Budgets, how to deal with budgets, fundraising. How to deal with kids and professors in class.

Mike Petrowski:

And then in the summer of ’19, I ended up talking to coach Davis and I was offered the Assistant Pitching Coach / Pitching Coach job here at Rider. We’ve turned it around pretty quick here in two years. And hopefully we’re on the rise.

AJ:

Awesome. Yeah. Hopefully something good happens here. Is that the end goal for you, you think you’d be a head coach at the D1 level, is that kind of what you have your sights set on, in the long-term?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. Again, if there’s any coaches in here, I think everybody’s different. There’s people that want to stay in one spot their whole life, and job security. Yeah, that would be great. I’d like that, but I’m kind of guy that wants to go as high as possible. I want to coach at the highest level, competing against the best teams. Me personally, again everyone has their own opinion. I think, that’s why you coach, that’s why you play sports, to do it at the highest level and win at the highest level. And that’s my goal. I just want to get as high as possible and learn from the best. I mean, coach Davis is one of the best people, if not the best baseball person I’ve been around. My high school coaches were great.

Mike Petrowski:

I played for four Hall of Famers in professional ball. So I think I was really lucky. I walked into a lot of people that know the game. And then a lot of it is getting the breaks. You got to get the breaks, the jobs open at the right time.

Mike Petrowski:

I’ll say this, people never talk about this, if you’re going to find a girlfriend or wife or a husband, or a boyfriend, you probably better be sure they’re able to relocate, if you’re going to coach. Because at the snap of a finger, you can get a job offer in Texas. And if they’re not willing to go it’s going to be a struggle and a stress on the relationship. So I think that’s one thing that kind of goes unsaid. You got to be communicative and let the person know upfront.

AJ:

Definitely. I mean, it’s a hard life in athletics, especially when you start getting to those higher levels. Like you said, that’s why we play sports. That’s why we coach sports. We want to do it because it’s hard. Do you think or not do you think, how do you think that the program now is helping you get to that level? Is this something that you’re thinking, “Man, I don’t know why I did this,” or do you think this is something that’s really given you some tools that’s going to help you take your coaching capacity to the next level?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, Without a doubt. I think I kind of touched on it before. This just reiterated how much I love the game. There’s so many things that I thought I knew at 34 years old, but I really had no idea about. I think the more, I think coach Davis says it a lot, the more you know, the less you know. I mean, you’re like, “Wow, there’s more things beyond this.”

Mike Petrowski:

And I guess I touched on before communicating, and listening, planning. I definitely improved my planning throughout the day for my guys. I think when kids, especially when as a coach, when they can see, that you know what you’re talking about, and you know how to plan a day out, it’s easier for them to do it, honestly. If they see you’re disorganized, they lose respect and they feel like, “Why am I going to do it if he’s not doing it?”

Mike Petrowski:

These classes have really showed me how to be a better coach, how to communicate, how to plan a day out for these guys, how to plan a week out.

Mike Petrowski:

And then probably the one thing I have not talked about is just staying on the process. I mean, you hear guys say this all the time in sports, sports psychology, you’re going to have up, down, up, down, especially in baseball major leagues; you’re playing 162 games, you’re not going to win 162.

AJ:

That’s true.

Mike Petrowski:

So you’re going to have bad days, good days. You have to be able to stay even keel. And that’s probably still to this day, one of the hardest things for me to do, I’m pretty fiery as a coach. So I really try to tone it down a little bit and stay level. So everybody else can as well.

AJ:

Absolutely. I agree 100% with all of that. It’s like I said, baseball, probably the toughest schedule in sports. You want to talk about psychology and where to start with that? I think I would a 100% agree that that’s where it is.

AJ:

All right. So what I’d like to do now is we’re going to take a couple of questions from the audience and see what we got. So let me go and pull these up here. So pop in. Okay. So here’s one, so far, because you’re not done with the program yet, are there any classes that you’ve enjoyed the most? So what course have you taken so far that you’ve enjoyed, or maybe one that you’re looking forward to take it?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, it’s funny because I actually started this program late in the summer, I believe last year, and there was no spots open. So I ended up taking a course, Dr. [Berkowitz 00:19:30] was actually allowed me into a course that looked like a course that was for everybody in their last class. So I was taking a class that a lot of guys were in their last one, a lot of girls where in their last one. And hands down, that’s my best favorite one so far, applied sports psychology. Basically applying psychology to whatever you’re doing. And that’s where, I was talking about before, communicate and listening. That’s where I’ve learned a lot of that, in that class.

Mike Petrowski:

It went back in history about a lot of things. It talked about the negatives of being negative, trying to be positive, a positive mindset. That really opened my eyes, because I was always, like I said, so intense. And I always wanted the best. I sometimes still don’t bring out the positive side of things. No doubt, applied sports psychology, if you could take that, take that. Dr. Berkowitz, she’s the best.

AJ:

Awesome. Let’s see, we’ve got another one here. Which concentration track did you end up choosing? I don’t think we’ve touched on that. Do you have a specific concentration that you’re following?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, I’m doing the coaching track. And I was going to do the sports psychology, I was very interested in it. I actually had a long talk with Dr. Berkowitz about it. And he said you could always take extras if you needed it. And I probably will, outside of my 36 that I need. I’m doing the coaching track just because of, like I said before, the athletic training is involved, facilities management, a lot of things that are behind the scenes that Division 1 head coaches or any head coaches need, which I really need, and I didn’t know are there in that track.

AJ:

Yeah, definitely. I think when we designed the program and Dr. Berkowitz definitely goes about this a lot, he designed the program with the idea in mind that there are three main parts of an athletic organization: you have your coaching and your staff, your training staff as far as your athletic trainers, and then you also have your administrators. And the whole idea is, “Okay, if I’m in one of these departments, what do I need to know about the other two, to make the entire organization as a whole successful, at the professional level, college, high school?”

AJ:

If everybody’s not firing on all cylinders, that’s going to make it really hard to have a successful season. So definitely happy to be able to learn all those things, I think is the best thing that we do for the program.

AJ:

Got a couple of questions here. How long are each courses? Each course the way we have it set up is going to be about seven weeks long. You’ve been in the course now for almost a year. How do you feel about that schedule of focusing on one course at a time for that six to seven weeks?

Mike Petrowski:

I love it. Like I said, I’m a person that needs to be staying on track and stay on line. So when I see the finish line, it really keeps me focused. I think if it was a longer, like semester, it would be a little tougher for me. And I think it would be harder for me because I’d have to plan out a lot longer, with how busy I am. So this seven weeks I could really get after it. And like I said, they post the syllabus so early, you could do your assignments. If you have a couple of days free you can knock a few out in your free time. Which is why this is so great.

AJ:

Definitely. How much time a week do you think you would say that you spend on classwork? From just logging in to doing everything? Total, how much do you think you spend on a class?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah, seven week course. I think it’s probably, I don’t know, three, four assignments a week, usually, somewhere in that ballpark. So I’d say probably two hours of assignment around there. Some are a lot longer. Sometimes it’s a five to 10 page paper. Sometimes it’s a one page, question and answer and then a discussion post. So it’s hard to put your finger on it. I’d say around two hours I spend. That doesn’t include probably reading that I do before in my free time.

Mike Petrowski:

If you’re a reader, which I was not, I learned how to read now. Not learn how to read, but learn how to enjoy reading. I think doing that beforehand gives you a headstart and you aren’t scrambled, and really confused when you do the assignments. One piece of advice that I would do. I’d get ahead and read, get the book early. Most of them you get online, or the bookstore. And kind of just skim through the chapters before you even start the assignments, couple of weeks before.

AJ:

Cool. All right. Let’s see here, we’ve got one question. Let’s see, how much does the program cost? So the cost of the program is going to be $969 per credit hour. Now just keep in mind that it doesn’t include things like your textbooks. Mike you were saying, you get those from different places. So for a full breakdown of the cost, I would recommend speaking with one of us, one of the enrollment advisors here. We can go almost line by line, as far as what your program costs would run. Let’s see.

Mike Petrowski:

Hi Ajay, just one quick thing with the books. Just so you guys know, I think my first three classes, I rented books for two months, three months, and it’s one third of the price. So just keep your eye out for that.

AJ:

Yeah. And that’s a huge thing is, we really try to make sure that everything is flexible. Obviously we’re not the only place that you can rent books. But flexibility, if you want to buy a brand new textbook, cool. If you want to buy a use, you want to rent them new or used, that’s totally up to you. So just make sure you take advantage of every option. I rented textbooks when I was in my undergrad. Definitely saved a lot of money doing that, for sure.

AJ:

Let’s see. All right. And we’ve got one question here. This one’s specifically for you Mike. And we kind of talked about it. Where do you see your career taking you about 5 to 10 years? So what do you think would be a trajectory for you realistically?

Mike Petrowski:

Well, 5 to 10 years? Well, first of all, we got to win. Then I can try to move up the ladder. But yeah, 5 to 10 years. I mean, if it’s not being the head coach at Rider, hopefully, like I said, I want to be at the highest level. So either pitching assistant coach at a Power Five conference or a head coach there. I don’t know if I’ll do that in five years, might take a bit longer than that. I’m a coach for the Trenton thunder MLB draft league here. And if something opens up in pro ball, way down the line, I would definitely probably be open to that as well.

Mike Petrowski:

I was growing up as a Yankee fan, I just love fall baseball in the playoffs. So in 10 years, if I was offered a job with one of those teams, that would be hard to pass up as well.

AJ:

For sure. And a lot of our students who come into this program are already in the industry. But from your experience, do employers in the athletics industry, in any form or facet, do they usually care about having that higher level degree? I know we said earlier, it’s almost like an unwritten rule that to be a head coach at that level, you almost have to have master’s degree. But is that something that you’ve seen is pretty standard?

Mike Petrowski:

Yeah. From what I’ve seen and heard in my interviews, I really don’t think it’s as much for the coaching side of it. I think it’s for the administrators. They really want to see it. I think it’s a sell to them, I think it’s a sell to the schools. If you have that, it’s a little bit easier for them to hire you. To kind of tell everybody else, he’s done his work on the field and off the field. I think that’s personally what it is. And going into it, I’ll be honest with you, I was like, “Why do I have to do this? I’m a baseball coach.” And then, like I said, this is the best decision I ever made. I would do this even if I don’t need it, knowing what I know now, it’s helped that so much.

AJ:

Awesome. All right. So let’s take one last second. Do a last call for Q&A here, I’ve been loving the question. So if anybody has any, please make sure to throw them in here now. All right. Looks like we’ve got one question. Once you apply, how long before you hear back about a decision?

AJ:

So we work on a rolling admissions basis, so it’s not like we have a set deadline of, if you apply by this date, you’ll know by this date. It’s all going to depend on the semester that you apply for, how close to the semester you apply for, how quickly you’re able to get your application completed. But realistically, I would say probably from the time that you have an application done and submitted, it’s probably going to be under review for a couple of weeks. Do you remember what your process was like Mike, as a undergrad and as a grad student?

Mike Petrowski:

My undergrad, I do not. That was about 12 years ago. I’d be lying. My master’s, I know, I think I applied in April, May. I had so many helpful people in the school, human resources, financial aid. I mean, they were all very communicative with each other. I think that took maybe two, three months, something like that, not even. Yeah, end the summer, maybe.

AJ:

Cool. Yeah. So definitely we’re going to try to get back to you as quickly as possible after you applied. But again, that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help put these applications together with you, and guide you in the right direction to make it as quickly and as painless as possible.

AJ:

All right, I’ll do one last quick, last call for questions, before we wrap things up here today. All right, I’m not seeing anything.

AJ:

So with that, Mike, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us about the program, about your experiences.

AJ:

For anyone who is interested, we are still taking applications for the summer semester and the fall semester as well later this year. So give us a call. Our number here is 877-856-5140. You can email us directly at admissions@online.rider.edu, or you can schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor using the live VCita link here on our page. And yeah, again, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

AJ:

And thank you so much for joining us. Bye everybody.