A group of Thailand sports officials and students are studying American sports programs and facilities during a two-week, cross-country tour that will take them from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Training Center in San Diego to the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
For the seventh consecutive year, the United States Sports Academy is leading the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) group on the sports study tour from Sept. 10-24. The group’s 16 members are getting an up-close and in-depth look at everything from the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball stadium and athletic centers to strength and conditioning programs and organized youth sports.
Betsy Smith, the Academy’s director of continuing education and special projects, has led the tour since the beginning and said the Thais are fascinated by American sports.
“They are very interested in learning about how things are done in the United States and how they can use what they learn to improve their own sports programs back in Thailand,” she said.
The Academy, the largest graduate program in sport education in the world, first developed a relationship with Thailand more than 30 years ago. The sports university has delivered sports programs in 65 countries around the globe.
The Academy is among the first universities in the United States dedicated to sports education. It has remained the only freestanding sports university in America since its inception in 1972 and offers regionally accredited programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
The SAT is Thailand’s primary sports organization and plays a vital role in developing sport. The Academy offers Thailand students both an International Certification in Sports Management (ICSM) and Sports Coaching (ICSC).
As part of its American sports study tour, the SAT students are attending the Academy in Daphne, Ala., for seminars by Dr. Bill Steffen, Chair of Sports Coaching, and Dr. Stephen Butler, Dean of Academic Affairs. They plan to teach the group about developing mental toughness in athletes and coaches and contemporary sports management, among other issues. While in Daphne, the Thais also are getting a first-hand look at local school and city league youth sports.
The tour concludes with the Thailand students receiving their diplomas at a graduation ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the Academy, also known as “America’s Sports University,” in Daphne, Ala.