DAPHNE, Ala. – The manager of one of the largest sports arenas in North Dakota says his United States Sports Academy master’s degree and participation in the institution’s mentorship program helped launch his career in the sports facilities management field.

Jody Hodgson earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports management in 1995 and his bachelor’s degree in business at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada. A resident of Grand Forks, N.D., Hodgson is the general manager at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, which is known for hosting University of North Dakota (UND) hockey and men’s and women’s basketball games.

For his master’s degree mentorship program, Hodgson worked for head coach and general manager Jean Person of the San Francisco Spiders of the International Hockey League, an experience he said gave him the knowledge and contacts he needed to secure employment in sports management.

“My master’s degree from the Academy gave me the opportunity to get that very important first-job in the sports industry and my education from the Academy has helped me differentiate myself from other candidates in the sports industry during my career,” Hodgson said.

“My mentorship directly led to my opportunity to work in the sports industry.

“I really enjoyed the ‘sports-focused’ aspect of my graduate studies. The master’s degree program at the Academy was the perfect combination of classroom education and real-world mentorship for me.

“I really appreciate my time at the Academy,” he said. “I made friendships with classmates that remain intact today and my master’s degree from the Academy directly led to my career in the sports industry.”

As general manager of the 13,154-seat Ralph Engelstad Arena since 2005, Hodgson is responsible for the management and operation of the facility. He manages a staff of 45 full-time employees and 900 part-time employees at the facility, which hosts approximately 120 events a year. Along with UND athletics, the arena hosts special events, concerts, family shows and sporting events. In addition, the arena has hosted large-scale sports events like the 2008 World Men’s Curling Championship and the 2016 World U18 Men’s Hockey Championships.

“My most notable professional accomplishments have probably come from my time at Ralph Engelstad Arena, where I have twice served as the President of international sporting events,” Hodgson said.

“In 2008, we hosted and I was the President of the 2008 World Men’s Curling Championship, an event that became the most successful world curling event ever hosted in the United States. In 2016 we hosted and I was the President of the 2016 World U18 Men’s Hockey Championships.

“Those events stand out for me because of the scope and magnitude of each event, as well as the planning and teamwork required to produce each event.”

Prior to working at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Hodgson served in various roles at the 23,000-seat Tacoma Dome as assistant director, marketing and booking manager and events manager.

The 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.

The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala.  For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.