The smile told it all.

Wide, genuine and showing two rows of pearly whites, all of which went quite well with the matching U.S. Navy dress attire, it shared some insight into the man, what he’s about and what he had just accomplished.In successfully defending his doctoral dissertation at the United States Sports Academy April 29, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas E. Sather fulfilled a lifelong personal goal and it showed. The smile was hard to ignore. Grinning from ear to ear, and sharing hearty handshakes with those congratulating him on the accomplishment, Sather was a beacon of good vibes during a visit to the picturesque Eastern Shore campus.

A career service man who currently is a Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist stationed in Pensacola, Fla., completed the final aspect required of him to receive his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Sports Management with an emphasis in Sports Health and Fitness with the trip. Now, after displaying his elation, not to mention some relief, it’s just a matter of the process going through before the parchment reveals the ultimate evidence.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Sather. “I was fortunate in my Navy experience, educational experience, helping me here. I was able to complete everything in four years. I’m pretty proud of that. Being able to do so much of my schoolwork online was such a benefit.”

With research, safety and training the focal points of Sather’s professional life, he has prepared pilots for duty while located in Patuxent River, Md., New River, N.C., and Pensacola. Since 2006, he has worked along the Gulf Coast at the Navy Survival Training Institute, Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and Navy Medicine Operational Training Center. In classic, disciplined fashion of a military man, he also managed to attend the Academy and produce 10 published papers.

This degree will mark Sather’s second from the Academy. He earned an M.S.S. in Sports Fitness Management and Sports Medicine back in 1996. He also holds degrees from Radford University (M.S., Psychology, 1997) and Elon College (B.S., Psychology, 1992). In a nifty, ironic twist, one of his former Academy classmates, Dr. Fred Cromartie, presided over the group that faced Sather during his defense, and also was one of the happiest faces on campus when it was over.

“He did great,” said Cromartie, the Director of Doctoral Studies at the Academy, referring to Sather’s backing of findings discovered on his study to assess caffeine and energy beverage consumption patterns among naval aviation candidates, including attributes and perceptions regarding their benefits and safety.

Now in his 16th year with the Armed Forces, one of his two tours with the Marines putting him in the Gulf War, Sather stated plans to further utilize the knowledge he has gained through education in his job and the new status he has achieved.

“It certainly can open up some doors,” Sather said of his imminent doctorate. “It helps with rank. I could be a captain, or even potentially an admiral. It’s amazing to think of the possibilities.”

That smile showed that they were to his liking.

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