Growing up in Germany, Nicolas Reinhard spent hours on the soccer field. He knew he wanted to pursue sports professionally in some capacity, but in Germany, the education system operates a bit differently.
“School and soccer are not connected in Germany—there is no college soccer, college basketball. School is one entity and sports are another, so if I wanted to study, I had to give up soccer,” he said.
So, when it came time to decide if he was going to pursue a degree, he was prepared to choose—he could either pursue higher education or continue playing the game he loved.
But then, he found Trevecca.
A few months later, Reinhard boarded a plane to make the nearly 5,000-mile trip across the Atlantic to study sports management and to play soccer as a Trevecca Trojan.
With Nashville recently being named Best Sports City by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, it seems that Reinhard, who now works as Trevecca’s assistant soccer coach, made the right decision.
“If it didn’t work out for me to play soccer, I still wanted to be in the industry,” he said. “At Trevecca, I was able to keep playing and also learn more about the specifics of sports management. You really learn about every side of the business and that left me feeling really prepared.”
Dr. Leigh Ann Danzey-Bussell, associate professor of sports management, has been with the program for the last four years. Danzey-Bussell says that in her experience, Trevecca’s sports management degree is one of the most diverse a person can get on a college campus.
In 2016, the program was completely overhauled, making room for a new rigorous curriculum, creating opportunities for active learning both in and outside of the classroom as well as new partnerships with organizations such as Alliance Sport Marketing, Vanderbilt, Trevecca Athletics, the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators.
That focus and these partnerships, says Danzey-Bussell, allow students to engage in active learning. Rather than simply learning about technology, branding strategies and planning special events, Trevecca sports management majors actively engage in the industry and gain real-world experience.
The program can also be tailored to fit a student’s individual interests.
“We touch on almost every other discipline there is out there: business, communications, education, technology, psychology, sociology, journalism,” Danzey-Bussell said. “What we equip them to do is really based on what they’re interested in. You can be a generalist, or you can be a specialist. It really depends on the passion of the person who wants to be in the industry.”
“In our first class we offer—I call that the lightbulb moment class—students are introduced to just about every possibility they could pursue in the industry,” she continued. “We try to help the students figure out where they want to be and gear their projects, research and internships toward that area so they can test drive it and make sure that’s it.”
As a graduate of the program, Reinhard said he thinks that is one of its biggest strengths.
Reinhard says he has used a lot of what he learned through the program—particularly about sports communications, administration and law—as an assistant soccer coach. It is part of his job to market a camp for the soccer team, keep up with player statistics and make sure the team is in compliance with the NCAA standards.
Beyond that, Reinhard says his relationships with the professors and his own soccer coach prepared him to be a mentor to the players he works with now.
“We all know that coaching college students involves more than just winning a soccer game. This is a stage of life that sets them up after college, so knowing all the sides of what you can take away from the field is [critical],” he said. “In the locker room, I’m talking to people from 12 different countries with different cultures and languages and characters. Compassion and love are the centerstone of our communication, and that is very rare, but it is something that I learned from my coaches and professors at Trevecca.”
Click here for more information about Trevecca’s undergraduate programs, including sport management.