(*UOnline is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
Front Office Sports is proud to share the stories of UOnline alumni who have elevated their sports career by earning a graduate degree through the school’s online MSED in Sport Administration program.
Joanna “JJ” Payette earned a Master of Science in Sport Administration from the University of Miami’s online MSED in Sport Administration program in 2018. After growing up in Denver, Colorado, she attended Stetson University on softball and academic scholarship. Payette began her coaching career at her alma mater shortly after her playing career ended in 2006. She then spent the next 13 years as Stetson’s assistant softball coach and recruiting coordinator. Payette credits her interest in coaching to one of her high school role models.
“What got me into coaching is I had an amazing mentor growing up in Steve Eaton, who is now in the Colorado High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame,” Payette says. “A wonderful man, he and the different coaches I had in my life and the impactful they were is what really pushed me into coaching. I wanted to have that impact on others.”
As with many assistant coach roles in college athletics, Payette found herself performing duties that extended beyond softball strategy. Payette also completed administrative tasks, created marketing materials for the program, and was the program’s Director of Camps and Clinics. She decided in 2017 to enroll in the University of Miami’s UOnline program to better her skills and knowledge in these aspects of the job as well as prepare her for future roles.
“They have an amazing academic reputation and to be able to keep working but also receive a degree from a prestigious institution like Miami was just a dream for me,” Payette says. “You jumped right in and it’s immediately applicable to what you’re doing here in the industry. Whether it’s marketing or ethics or leadership or any of the classes that you encounter. That’s what I really liked about it. Even though it was an 18-month program I was already utilizing things that I had learned. The faculty were great as well. It’s everything that you could actually want.”
In addition to the content of the curriculum, Payette also enjoyed the flexibility that the online program provided her in the midst of her busy life.
“The online platform was amazing for my schedule,” she says. “I could study and write papers when were on the road or when I was out recruiting. I could meet anywhere in the world. It allowed me the freedom to live my life, to recruit, to be a good coach, to be a good ambassador for my job, but also to be a good student.”
Payette retired from coaching earlier this year with plans of attending law school before the next step in her athletics career. When she finds that next step, she will once again call on the lessons and connections that she made in the UOnline program.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life to go to the University of Miami,” Payette states. “My peers in my classes were incredible. You develop relationships with people that are on the other side of the country and you have connections now in all kinds of different institutions. It’s a great way to get connected become immersed in the industry.”