ETSU graduates first Global Sports Leadership class

Tanner Cook • May 6, 2018 at 3:42 AM

Saturday morning’s commencement at the East Tennessee State University Minidome acted as a door that swings both ways: closing on the students’ time in the college classroom, but opening to new opportunities.

The 2,166 graduates included undergraduates, masters and doctoral candidates from all walks of life; 677 of them graduated with honors. The class of 1968 also celebrated its golden anniversary and was recognized.

One special group celebrated as the first graduating class of the Global Sports Leadership doctoral program.

The candidates included head volleyball coach Lindsey Devine, head women’s basketball coach Brittney Ezell and football offensive coordinator Mike Rader.

The course involves many papers, a task of time management and two international trips to experience sports in other parts of the world.

“The first year, we went to the Netherlands and in the second year, we traveled to France, Monte Carlo and Spain,” Devine said. “Those opportunities provided us with the chance to observe global leadership in sports and implement it to help grow within our own sports teams. It also helped us develop more as people and as leaders.

“The environment that we were in was electric. Seeing Lionel Messi play was phenomenal.”

The group watched a wide range of sports from handball to soccer to volleyball and was also treated to some behind-the-scenes looks at how business is run overseas as opposed to in the United States.

“I gained a sense of completion from this course. Any time you complete a terminal degree, you have to feel you’ve gone as far as you can go,” Ezell said. “We tell our players all the time to push your limits and be uncomfortable and this definitely made me uncomfortable. To be a leader, you need to be a learner and this was a great learning experience.”

“The whole experience from class to class, project to project all the way up to the capstone was a great design in the program and was the best experience for me,” Rader said. “They challenged us and got us outside of our comfort zone to where we were learning from all different avenues.

“I learned how to become a better communicator and how to hone in on my leadership skills to influence young people because that’s what I love to do. We’re already implementing some of these things in the football team.”

The class of 2018 saw a beautiful ceremony from start to finish, highlighted by 10 o’clock commencement speaker David A. Golden, the senior vice president of Eastman.

Golden has had two children graduate from ETSU.

The 2 p.m. speaker was Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. He received his doctoral education degree from ETSU. He is married and has two sons.

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