Program of the Month Q&A: Sport Management Student Mercedes Sulzbach

It is well known that athletic and extracurricular involvement can greatly enhance one’s college experience. But when those activities reinforce a student’s career goals, it is match made in heaven. This has been the experience of Medaille senior Mercedes Sulzbach, who is a sport management major minoring in communication. The four years she has spent playing softball for the Mavericks, as well as her extracurricular involvement on the Sport Management Assist Team and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, have helped prepare her for working in her chosen field of sport communication and college athletics.

Here, Sulzbach explains how Medaille’s sport management courses and faculty members have helped guide and prepare her, and she describes how her time as an athlete and an intern in the Medaille College Athletics Department sparked her interest in a possible career in coaching or managing college athletics.


What first drew you to enroll in the sport management program at Medaille?

I was referred to Medaille by Board of Trustees member and alum Donald Tomasulo ’79 [Director of Results at Entercom Communications Buffalo], who had nothing but good things to say about the College. When I visited, I liked that Medaille was close to home, and that the campus and class sizes were small. The more I learned about the sport management program, the more it seemed like a good fit. I also attended a Medaille-run softball clinic when I was in high school, so I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of the Mavericks softball team.


Describe your experience in the sport management program. What stands out?

As a student, I can tell that the faculty and people involved in the sport management program want to see students succeed. Dr. Richard Jacob, the program director, got to know me by name right away. He is kind and never talks down to his students, and he helped guide me in learning how to shape my college experience based on the type of career I want. I am currently in coach Jacob’s Theories and Techniques of Coaching course, which gives me the chance to develop my own coaching philosophy.


What types of things have you learned about yourself and your career goals from your studies?

I have learned that I am 100 percent happy with my major and my career choice. My internships, both with the Western New York Section of the PGA and with Medaille Assistant Sports Information Director James Witherow, taught me that I enjoy interacting with people and like working in a crowd. I wouldn’t want a job where I have to sit behind a desk all day.


What is the best advice you have received during your time at Medaille?

Coach Jacob has kept me motivated. He encouraged me from the beginning of my time at Medaille, saying that if I found something I was passionate about, I shouldn’t let anything get in the way of accomplishing it. He is a coach in all aspects, especially mentally.

Dan Opera, my softball coach, also helped build me into the athlete I am today. He took me under his wing, had full faith in my athletic abilities, and gave me the chance to succeed on the field. Medaille’s entire athletics department also emphasizes and requires classroom success, so the athletics staff has helped push me to do my best and helped me learn important time management skills.


What would you like to do with your degree after you graduate?

I want to work in the sport communication field, and would love to be an athletic information director at a college. From what I have seen and experienced thus far in my internship, I think I really would enjoy managing college athletics. I would also love to work as a softball coach someday.


What advice would you give to individuals who are interested in sport management or trying to decide on a major?

If you don’t know specifically what you want to do within the field of sports but you enjoy being part of a team, you’ll enjoy learning the business aspect of sports. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of different career paths available within sport management.

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