DAPHNE, Ala. – There was a time that Mark Chay no longer wanted to be part of sports. Having proven unsuccessful in his bid to become a three-time Olympian as a swimmer, the Singapore native not only was done with all the training and competing it took to become an elite-level athlete, but sports in general.
A lot has changed since then.
Following a few dips back into the sports pool the past few years, the 32-year-old Chay now has jumped in with both feet, first with agreeing to take the helm from his father Chay Yee at the International Sports Academy (ISA) in Singapore and then renewing a five-year agreement February 5 with the United States Sports Academy for conducting academic programs there.
That will continue a relationship between the two entities that began in 2003 and has helped build an alumni base of more than 500 – including Chay – in Singapore, where Academy programs were first introduced in 1985 and conducted by the Singapore Sports Council.
In order to prepare for the undertaking, Chay visited the Academy campus to receive training and expressed his excitement at what lies ahead.
“It’s a great program,” he said after signing the deal with Academy Vice President Dr. T.J. Rosandich. “The students are very happy. We have about 560 alumni in the area. So we have something to build on.”
Chay, thanks to his background and life experience, appears to be the right one to lead that development. In addition to being a two-Olympian, he was an Academic All-American while attending Brigham Young University. After retiring from competitive swimming, he entered the business sector and honed his analytical and public relations skills.
It was during that sabbatical from sports, though, that steered him to his current course.
“Being away, I started to think about it,” said Chay. “If I really wanted to have an impact on our society, to make positive changes, the best way for me to do it was in sports.”
So, he started taking master’s degree classes at the Academy – “I learned a lot; it was a great experience,” he said – and he involved himself in the Singapore Swimming Association and then became CEO of the Singapore Hockey Federation. He also served as CEO of Coleman College, adding to his business acumen and also further paving his way to ISA since the school and academy are affiliated.
“What you realize is that sports isn’t just about the athletes,” said Chay. “It’s about the coaches, the officials, the administrators, everyone involved, too. They’re all very important, and I think that’s how it should be in a sports eco-system.”
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.