Dr. Sonya Wesley meets with US Olympics CEO Scott Blackmun during a luncheon in Chicago. Blackmun was awarded the Academy’s Eagle Award, it’s highest honor, on Oct. 21, 2013.
There may not be a person more fitted to the title of Alumni Coordinator at the United States Sports Academy than Dr. Sonya Wesley.
Wesley, a former track athlete, who earned a Doctorate of Education in Sports Management from the Academy, said her first professional experience with sports was as an intern at Professional Athletes Career Enterprise (PACE), while a graduate student in San Diego.
As a PACE intern, Wesley worked as a liaison, assisting National Basketball Player Association members with internships, career opportunities during the off-season and career-ending ventures.
“That was my introduction into the professional world of sports,” she said.
Her work ethic and enthusiasm eliminated two positions and she was approached about attending the Academy by Dr. Judith Sweet, the first female member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, who, at the time, was affiliated with PACE.
After graduating from National University with a Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management and a goal of becoming a career resource for athletes in the future, Wesley began traveling and training as a certified fitness instructor.
Wesley went on to volunteer at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“When I heard America won the bid, I called the first business day at 8 a.m.,” she said. “I was told that I was the first one to call.’”
Wesley assisted the media and sat in on press conferences with the athletes, coaches, agents and others.
“I was thoroughly exposed,” she said. “That sealed the deal. I knew I was going to the United States Sports Academy.”
Wesley started at the Academy in 2000, and interned with the Mobile Wizards, an Arena Football League II team, under the direction of owner, Ken “Snake” Stabler, former quarterback for the Oakland Raiders and Alabama Crimson Tide.
“Among learning the fundamentals of sport management, Mr. Stabler taught me how to approach and address warriors,” Wesley said. “I gave team announcements and performed as a representative.”
After graduating from the Academy in 2004, Wesley founded a non-profit organization called “Sports Series,” an educational program that facilitated workshops for student athletes ages 8 to 18, teaching math and science through sports activities in California, Georgia and Florida.
Wesley dissolved the non-profit in 2013 and decided instead to focus her teaching efforts overseas in Malaysia, as one of 28 members of the Academy’s international faculty. She taught eight various sport-related courses and was voted as one of the instructors of the week.
“The experience was a growth spurt. The students’ work ethic overcame language barriers and their classwork showed that learning was taking place,” she said. “It was exciting to be away among an international population and to return to my alumni home, the United States Sport Academy.”
Upon arriving back in the U.S., Wesley moved to Alabama, saw what employment opportunities were available online and applied.
“I’m in a zone conversing with potential alumni, sharing my experience from the heart,” she said. “Observing Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich host prominent guests, being in the environment of dynamic sport art, learning cutting edge information in the world of sport and engaging passionate sport enthusiastic classmates, I evolved.”
“I am where I am supposed to be and honored to have been chosen to contribute to this institution,” Wesley said. “I want to share my experience and provide assistance to the alumni, as well as help establish a collegial body that continues their relations with and in support of the Academy’s mission,” she added.