student story

Jamk’s Sport Business Management programme tackled everything Kyle was looking for

Kyle’s student story is quite unusual. Unlike most of his fellow students, Kyle wasn’t actively looking for study opportunities when he found JAMK and our Sport Business Management programme. But once he found SBM, it was love at first sight, and the decision to once again return to the “school desk” was made. Now, Kyle balances his studies along with his work at Lambton College, a task that according to him wouldn’t be possible if not for JAMK’s and SBM’s flexibility.

Not just your everyday Canadian hockey player

Kyle was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, right next to U.S. border. His career in ice hockey eventually took him over the border and into New York, where he played hockey on Colgate University Raiders while studying to become a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology. There he also studied a minor in Educational Studies. After conquering the big apple, it was time to try his wings in Europe. A trip to Germany that was only meant to last one year turned into 14 years, a fluency in the German language and Kyle becoming a naturalized citizen.

During his years in Germany Kyle had a moment of clarity. He’d have to have a plan for what comes after his active years in ice hockey are over. The retirement age in sports is quite young in general and an injury could force him to retire even sooner than expected: “I started to think what I’m going to do after and what happens if I get hurt. I knew that I wanted to work in the College in Sarnia and that the minimum requirement to work there was a master’s degree, so I ended up starting master’s studies in a German university while still playing hockey professionally”, Kyle says.

Kyle soon had to move within Germany to play for another team and he couldn’t continue his studies remotely. “I started looking for a master’s programme that I could complete online and found the University of Linköping in Sweden”, he continues, laughing about whether he pronounced the name correctly or not. Don’t worry Kyle, it wasn’t half bad since I recognized what you meant straight away!

Kyle graduated as a Master of Arts in Adult Learning and got another master’s degree in Social Sciences. The main goal for his studies was of course to make himself more employable, but a part of him also did it because he wants to prove people wrong: “Sometimes people think that ‘Oh he’s just a dumb hockey player’, and I wanted to prove them wrong, I mean, I actually studied hard. I wanted to prove to people that even if you play you can study and do this!

He followed through with his plan to return to his hometown and the college there after retiring from hockey in 2017. His career in Lambton started by teaching English, but it has since morphed into different roles, such as adjunct professor in Sports and Recreation Management.

His own history in studies also helps him to motivate his students to keep on studying: “I like to joke that If I can do this, and I’m an idiot, anyone of you can do this”, Kyle says with a hearty laugh.

Unexpected happenstances brought JAMK on Kyle’s radar

Kyle was planning on creating a pathway for his students when JAMK popped up in a discussion with a university in Florida. “I was trying to create a pathway to Florida, and they mentioned JAMK as an interesting opportunity”, Kyle elaborates. Kyle contacted JAMK, started the discussions about the possibility for a pathway and got familiar with JAMK’s offerings. That’s when he found the Sport oriented courses and got interested. “I applied, got interviewed and got in, and now I, as a student, can tell my students about studying at JAMK on a firsthand experience”, Kyle laughs.

Kyle currently has 3 students who are interested in studying at JAMK, and the fact that studying at JAMK has been OSAP approved makes it an even more interesting opportunity.  

Studies in business are a surefire way to improve your employability

At one point Kyle was thinking of getting a doctorate just because it’s a doctorate. “It would be a good credential to have but I wasn’t actually excited about it”, Kyle elaborates. Compared to the doctorate, the Sport Business Management programme at JAMK seemed to fit Kyle to a tee. “The courses at JAMK tackled everything I was looking for – business isn’t going out of style any time soon so it’s always a sure way to improve your employability. And the sport aspect of it would help me get back into the hockey business if I wanted to.”

Kyle took a few courses in his first semester. Then life got a bit hectic with work and in general. “I’m impressed by the way you can schedule your studies at JAMK to match your current situation in life”, Kyle shares.

So, flexibility in studies gets a thumbs up from Kyle, but it’s not the only thing he really appreciates: “I like the group aspect of studying. The group work requires good time management skills that help you further down the line, and it’s really rewarding when you see the different puzzle pieces of group work fitting together”, Kyle says. “We have a WhatsApp chat that is very work related and people promote their work and it’s quite unique. It’s a community where people network. My brain can be all over the map and it’s nice that I can just ask for an update in the group chat, like where we’re at right now”, Kyle continues with a laugh.

The fact that JAMK supports studies both online and on-premises is something that Kyle considers an advantage: “It’s both online and not, and both ways work. Our students can start their MBA online through open studies before they even get accepted. Especially now during covid when they’re not working, they can already start working for the degree”, Kyle summarizes.

Studying abroad gives a broader understanding of people all around the world

Kyle’s currently working at Lambton and on creating exciting new pathway opportunities for his students, but he’s open for trying other things in the future: “I’m always open for anything and everything. When I’m asked at Lambton if I want to do something new and different, I always say yes”, Kyle comments on his long-term plans. But his plans for the following summer have already been pretty much set in stone: “I won’t be working a lot in the summer, so I think I’m going to take a couple of additional courses to quicken the process. Then I can also help my students”, Kyle tells, excited about the opportunity JAMK offers for his students. “It’s a great opportunity: It’s a great institution, but it’s cheaper. University in Canada is quite expensive. And because it’s OSAP approved they’ll get grants so studying will be even cheaper.”

As an international student himself Kyle can attest to the positive experience studying abroad gives: “If you can grab something from each culture, it helps you deal with people with different backgrounds. I have a background in Hamilton NY, Germany, Sweden, and soon from Finland. It’s beneficial and helps you get out there in the world. The pathway gives our students more international opportunities”, Kyle shares.

Kyle also has a few encouraging words for all of those who are still wondering if JAMK and the Sport Business Management programme is the right choice for them:

I like to dream of the future and my future includes education. I may not know my path right now, but I feel I am on the right track. This track may not be easy, because if it was easy, then everyone would do it. Take the next step towards your future.