This article appears in the Fall 2021 Edition of Curry Magazine
By Jana F. Brown
In 2019, Curry launched a Sport and Recreation Management major to accommodate a growing interest in the field. Here, Professor Natalie West, who leads the program, talks about the variety of opportunities available to students majoring in this area and how the College’s close proximity to one of the best sports towns in America is a benefit to enrollment. West earned her master’s in sport leadership from Northeastern University and is finishing her Ph.D. in educational leadership from Simmons University.
How have your previous experiences prepared you to lead Curry in its new Sport and Recreation Management major?
I have a variety of different experiences at different levels. I have worked in youth sports, volunteered in high school, coached in college, worked at the conference level, and also in private club sports–I even had a one- year playing experience in women’s pro football. My research is on women in intercollegiate athletics, but I think my focus on communications and marketing also provides a unique perspective that I carry into my classes.
How does the program being housed in the School of Business and Computer Science help to make this a well-rounded education?
Because it’s in the School of Business and Computer Science, students have the foundational classes of Introduction to Business, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Introduction to Accounting and Marketing in addition to major-specific classes. I joined the faculty last year and created a History of Women in Sports class. It’s interdisciplinary and, in addition to getting more students interested in the Sport & Rec major, we have seen a number of business majors taking these classes as well.
What sets Curry’s program apart?
What makes Curry’s program different is the small classroom size, and we are one of a few schools that has a Sport and Recreation Management major. We are located in close proximity to Boston, and Massachusetts in general is a big sports state, so there are countless minor league teams and youth sports and sports companies in addition to the pro sports.
How does that proximity to Boston, one of the best sports towns in America, benefit the program?
It is a draw that we are within seven miles of Boston. It allows students to take that job or internship while going to school. This past year, we had students working for the Commonwealth Coast Conference, one at New England Sports Network, another with the Mass. Pirates arena football team and one with the Boston Celtics. We also have a number of students working on campus with the Athletic Department. There is a benefit of being a small Division III school, with the chance for hands- on experience for game days and in athletic communications.
Not everyone will work in professional sports. What career paths do you see for graduates of this program?
So many students who start the major immediately think pro sports is the only option, but there are countless career paths. I’ve seen students go into coaching, be athletic directors at the high school or college level, working or owning their own private sports club, working in the fantasy sports realm or eSports and also sports marketing and sports communications. There are endless opportunities at each level.