Photograph Jed SmithSometimes life takes you in directions that you had never thought you would go. The same is true for Jed Smith, a student at the United States Sports Academy, who is currently working toward his Doctor of Education in Sports Management. He was never really interested in being a coach, then one day all of that changed. Today, Smith is the Strength and Conditioning Coach of The University of Northern Iowa.

Smith received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota and his Master of Arts from Hamline University. He started out as a high school teacher at Rosemont High School in Rosemont Minn., just 30 minutes down the road from where he graduated. When Smith first started his teaching position at Rosemont there was an issue with the coach. Next thing Smith knew, he was being asked to take the position as the high school’s coach. He had several coaching assignments at Rosemount High School, including ninth grade boys’ basketball and wrestling, starting in 1996. He served as Rosemount’s strength training and conditioning coach for all sports from 1997-2002, was head boy’s tennis coach from 2000-2002, and coached the school’s Olympic weight lifting from 1999-2002.

“I had not known it was something I would be interested in and I found out that I loved it.”

Since then, Smith has set a lot of goals for himself and found mentors, high level individuals, to help him along the way. He wrote down his goals that he wanted to do for sport certifications.

“I did not plan on moving to the collegiate level. I just wanted to be the best high school coach I could be,” Smith said. “Doors opened and I was given an opportunity. I really like the collegiate level a lot.”

Today Smith is working at the University of Northern Iowa in their athletic department as the Strength and Conditioning coach. He has been working there since 2005, making this his eleventh season as their coach. Smith likes working at the college level because he gets to help develop skills they have not yet learned through a career in sport like professional athletes.

“My job is really unique here at UNI, as far as I know this is the only program like this at our level.”

Smith’s job at UNI is actually in the Explosive Sports Science. He works as an instructor and spends a lot of time in the sports laboratories. Their Strength and Conditioning students get to work hands on with the athletes and develop their craft under a mentor. Every week Smith does professional development that the students don’t get credit for and then he also has the opportunity to teach them in class.

“It’s really a nice mixture.”

Smith has really enjoyed his educational experience with the Academy. He has been able to link work that he is doing with the Academy to his classes back at UNI. In fact, one of the papers that he prepared for a course at the Academy is now the basis of a course that he teaches.

“The professors are great to work with. I like the format and the freedom. It allows you to be in a high demanding job like I am currently in.”

Smith noted that the program opens up the mind to a lot of other avenues that you normally would not go with your career. Going through the learning process and seeking more information is always a way to better yourself and getting more knowledge.

“A plethora of knowledge that you are able to get at through the Academy. Professors challenge you and areas that can aid you in your career.”

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