He was a man on a mission.
Blessed with the athletic ability to earn a spot on his country’s national soccer team, Totty O. Totty looked at his surroundings, thought about the prospects of playing professionally and determined exactly what he had to do.
“It was get an education,” the Nigerian native stated with an ever-present smile while visiting the United States Sports Academy February 12. “Put it this way, I always had it in the back of my head that an education was the way to go, and go as far as I could go. I mean, you leave the national team, you better have a plan and you better make it pay off.”
Upon leaving his home, Totty arrived in the U.S. on scholarship to play soccer at Southern New Hampshire University in 1989. In his four years there, he led the Penmen program to a 67-15-3 record and the NCAA Division II Tournament twice, including a title-winning campaign as a freshman. He played both midfield and defense during his career and collected All-America honors at both positions. SNHU eventually inducted Totty into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.
Even better, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hooksett, N.H., school, which paved the way to him becoming a professor there. But he never strayed far from soccer, either.
He served as Director of Coaching for the Amherst, N.H., Soccer Club for two years, assistant coach for the New Hampshire College women’s team for three and was an eight-year veteran of the John Rootes Soccer School at New Hampshire College.
Ultimately, Rootes, who recruited Totty to play for him at Southern New Hampshire, convinced his protégé to follow him to Division II Clayton State in Peachtree City, Ga., where they formed a dynamic one-two soccer punch, Rootes coaching the men and Totty the women.
Rootes would leave after six years, but Totty opted to chart his own path, both in the athletic and education realms. He stayed at Clayton State for 13 seasons, becoming the winningest coach in program history and leading the Lakers to two NCAA tournament appearances, before finally moving on to Grambling State in 2012.
He also delved back into his educational quest with gusto.
With the Academy offering online classes and the opportunity to schedule schoolwork around his regular work as a full-time coach, Totty entered the program in 2003 and had his Doctorate in Education, Ed.D. in Sports Management, with emphasis in human resources, conferred this past December.
“I’m excited to have the degree,” he said. “I’m happy with the excellence of the program, how the faculty challenged me and what it demanded of me. The program was very thorough.
“I appreciated that, and I’ve shared with my friends that they would like it, that it will be a challenge.”
As with many of his fellow alumni, Totty championed the flexibility offered by the Academy. With that, he has been able to progress in a way that allowed him to dovetail professional and personal success.
“That was the beauty of the program for me,” he said. “The flexibility allowed me to work it into my schedule. With coaching and recruiting, it can get pretty busy and very little time is left for anything else. But I was able to budget my time, and even come here in the summer to take classes.”
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy visit www.ussa.edu.