Drexel Online Partners with USRowing
For anyone familiar with the Philadelphia area, the iconic Boathouse Row probably springs to mind as a favorite landmark. Lining the Schuylkill River by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, these 19th-century boathouses are home to, among other things, Drexel University’s rowing teams. With a place firmly cemented in Philadelphia’s rowing community, it’s no wonder that Drexel would choose to take this relationship one step further by partnering with USRowing to give coaches and members a 40 percent discount on the online MS in Sport Coaching Leadership program, which features a new concentration in rowing.
Amy Giddings, PhD, program director for the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management’s sport coaching leadership programs, served as a catalyst for this unique concentration.
“I have a personal vested interest in developing coaches in the sport of rowing,” she said. “I have rowed collegiately, nationally and internationally over the past 20 years, and I coached for about 15 of those years. When you see the impact a coach has on an athlete’s experience in a sport, it is surprising how little education and training we provide coaches. As in any field, the better prepared you are, the better the results will be—coaches that have more education and training have more resources and tools to improve the sport experience for their athletes, themselves as coaches and their programs as a whole.”
Students enrolled in the MS in Sport Coaching Leadership program with a concentration in rowing will take 33 credits in core coaching classes and 12 credits towards the concentration, for a total of 45 credits. Though the core classes are taught by Drexel faculty, the rowing-specific classes were created with help from USRowing and will be taught by industry experts from outside of the University. This was done strategically; by combining faculty and industry expertise, the program is able to merge the basic principles of coaching with sport-specific lessons. As a bonus, all graduates of the program will automatically be Level 3 certified with USRowing.
Drexel’s rowing concentration cements the University as a pioneer in sports coaching education—only one other online degree program in the United States offers a sport-specific concentration. Starting in Fall of 2018, Drexel will be adding up to five other concentrations to its roster: lacrosse, basketball, football, volleyball and sport-based youth development.
In fact, Drexel’s approach to sport coaching education differs from other similar programs in an even bigger way: by putting an emphasis on the idea of coaching as a skill that needs to be taught. Currently, there are no real requirements for landing a coaching job; typically, a main qualification is being an accomplished athlete in that sport, according to Giddings. The view at Drexel, however, is more on par to how coaching is viewed in Europe: as a position that requires a specific set of skills that should be taught, ensuring that the coach is prepared for any challenges they may face on the job.
“Our current model in the US, and in particular with collegiate and scholastic sports, is that a coach becomes prepared by having been a former athlete in the sport, securing the requisite clearances and learning on the job,” Giddings said. “Many of these coaches are afforded opportunities to participate in certifications through their sport’s governing bodies, but rarely are these done for more than a day or a long weekend. We aim to improve this by offering an online graduate program that combines rigorous coursework in coaching theory, pedagogical strategies, psychology, nutrition, recruiting, strength and conditioning, athlete leadership development and technical and tactical strategies of a particular sport with two years of experience coaching that sport. Because our program is online, coaches can remain with their teams and continue their practical experience in coaching while simultaneously learning from experts in their sport and in the field of coaching.”
The program is designed to benefit coaches and aspiring coaches of all levels. The general program is currently accepting applications, with the rowing concentration beginning in fall of 2017.