Last Updated on April 20, 2022
Interview with Professor LaQuita Frederick
Sports Degrees Online had the opportunity to interview Dr. Frederick in March, 2022. Dr. Frederick touched on subjects ranging from character traits that students should cultivate to be successful, factors to consider when choosing a sport management program, and much more.
Dr. Frederick is an accomplished higher education and seasoned sports industry professional with multi-faceted experience. Professor Frederick holds a doctorate degree in Sport Leadership and Management from the United States Sports Academy.
Sports Degrees Online: Dr. Frederick, prior to your career in academia you had extensive experience working for several different sports organizations. Can you talk about some of the roles that you have had in the sports industry?
Dr Frederick: Sure. Over the course of my career, I have held a variety of roles – each experience and organization adding value to my body of work. In my early career, like many, I started with assistantships and internships before moving up to assistant and coordinator roles and then onward to Assistant Director and Director roles. While that may cover the roles, some of the areas I worked in span sports information and communication, marketing and promotions, as well as event management and game operations. And it was exciting then and, even in reflection, now to have worked for college athletics (Ohio State, NC State, and countless NCAA championship and tournament events) as well as professional sports teams (Atlanta Braves, Durham Bulls, and the Orlando Magic including post-season games and events).
Sports Degrees Online: How important was networking as you climbed the ladder to different positions?
Dr. Frederick: Being excellent and exceptional at what you do is key, but networking is paramount in climbing the career ladder of the sports industry. With each opportunity, you will gain both, but who you know will likely determine your next opportunity. Early in my career persistence paid off in pursuing blind opportunities, but advancement in my career, even my current role, was almost always tied to my network. Whether knowing someone within the organization I aspired to myself or knowing someone who knew the hiring manager, the network and networking is absolutely the game changer. Additionally, those in my network have typically started as colleagues and become friends who are great supporters and peer mentors throughout the rewards and challenges of your career.
Sports Degrees Online: It is no secret that launching a career in sports is more competitive than other fields. What advice do you have for soon-to-be graduates who are trying to find their professional footing in the sports industry?
Dr. Frederick: The sports industry from the outside looking in is smaller than it looks. There are not infinite opportunities, but a finite number; hence, the intense competition especially establishing footing. It’s very similar to those thousands of athletes seeking those limited opportunities to compete at the professional level.
First, I would advise you to know at least three things you want to do – it’s okay to prioritize preferences, but be prepared and open to pivot. You may have to be open minded about the first opportunity that gets your foot in the door and/or you may find even once in the industry that you discover opportunities that pull you in a variety of directions.
Second, be exceptional and be excellent. Being exceptional is about being and/or doing things that are authentically you, but also empower you to stand out from your competition. Being excellent is about how you perform your work and how you show up because there is no room for mediocrity even after you are in the industry. Initially, getting in will be challenging for one set of reasons, but advancing will be challenging for a different set so always strive for exceptionalism and excellence.
Third, be equal parts persistent and patient – they are not opposites but complements when a balance is struck. Persistence requires that you be hungry, be a hustler, be a go-getter who is willing to arrive early, stay late, take initiative, etc. However, patience requires that while being persistent you must also accept and embrace the timing of your life, your opportunities, etc.
If you pursue sports opportunities for six months and fall short, and give up – that’s your loss. It may take a year or more; it may take more than one internship; it may take one year in an entry level position or it may take three. Be patient at all times, but be persistent during the time you’re waiting.
Sports Degrees Online: There are so many sport management programs to choose from at the bachelor’s and master’s level, it may be overwhelming for prospective students to choose which program is the best fit for them. What factors should students keep in mind as they are trying to choose a program?
Dr. Frederick: When I earned my first graduate degree in sport management, there were probably less than 100 programs nationally (and that’s being generous) so I am ecstatic that our profession has earned its place as a distinct academic and professional path for those who aspire to work in the sports business.
With that said, the volume of options is so different from my experience that I’m a bit humble about making recommendations. Honestly, I would say take the same approach as you would to vet any other academic pursuit. Ask yourself the questions – Who/What/When/Where/Why. Determine your end game – a lot of programs are building niches (analytics, college athletics, communications, esports, events management, etc.) Analyze your top three to five programs (maybe even a SWOT for each or a list of pros and cons at minimum).
Only you will know what is best for you based on what you aspire to do. And no matter where you ultimately go, being exceptional and excellent, practicing patience and persistence will still apply to getting in the door.
Sports Degrees Online: You have distinguished yourself as an industry expert in both Sports Marketing and Event Management. With regard to Sports Marketing – can you talk a bit about why young people should consider focusing in this area?
Dr. Frederick: Sports marketing is a dynamic and multifaceted area worthy of consideration for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s an umbrella term with many niche opportunities that fall under it – marketing, marketing research, sales, ticketing, sponsorship, public relations, promotions, etc. As such, there are many entry points and many opportunities to advance especially if you are flexible and strategic about mastering multiple aspects (not all, but more than one makes you more well rounded, experienced, and prepared) for future career advancement and longevity.
Sports Degrees Online: What are some of the most important skills that people need to be successful in sports marketing?
Dr. Frederick: Depending upon the niche you pursue, there are varying capabilities and competencies that lend to success and the more of these you have, the greater your success. Top of mind would be good oral, visual, and written communication skills; attention to detail and time management; being creative, imaginative, and/or innovative; flexibility and initiative; duality of working independently as well as part of a team. These are bare minimums but can be enhanced with additional talents and skills depending upon your role and responsibilities.
Sports Degrees Online: Why should students interested in Sport Management consider a focus or concentration in Event Management?
Dr. Frederick: Like marketing, events management is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of the sports industry also worthy of consideration. Events management is also an umbrella term that may capture event planning, event management, game operations, safety and security, facility management, turf management, staffing and volunteerism, event marketing/promotions, travel and hospitality, corporate partnerships/sponsorships, etc.
As such, there are many specialty areas one can explore and pursue. Additionally, the very nature of the sports industry is about events and entertainment – sometimes, one and the same, and sometimes, overlapping so there are a myriad of opportunities spanning local to national to global events.
Sports Degrees Online: What are the most interesting and exciting aspects of working in Event Management?
Dr. Frederick: Working in events management is not for the faint of heart because it looks like a lot of fun (and it is), but it’s also extremely demanding (both in time and energy). Additionally, not only does it require many of the qualities I outlined above, but a knack for both flexibility and tenacity are requisite (things don’t always go according to plan but audience/fans should never know). Furthermore, there has to be extraordinary capacity and competency for organization, planning, strategy, timing, executive, and operations.
Sports Degrees Online: Professor, in recent years you have worked on projects to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research. Can you tell us a bit about this work, and why it is important for you?
Dr. Frederick: Actually, I did quite a bit of this many years ago especially when working with Hall of Fame Coach Kay Yow and the WBB program at NC State University. That said, I was a part of the NC State Athletics staff that launched the inaugural Hoops for Hope in her honor to raise funds and increase awareness for breast cancer. Hoops for Hope was initially an annual and local charity game, event, and health fair (benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation), but expanded and has since rebranded to Play 4 Kay – still annual but now national (benefitting the Kay Yow Foundation). Play 4 Kay is a living legacy that I am proud to have played a significant even if unknown role in bringing to fruition.To this day, I still have a passion and purpose at the intersection of sports and impact, but have not specifically worked on breast cancer initiatives in at least 15 years.