UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

December 18, 2023

IAL Internship Spotlight: Teagan Eldridge

Teagan Eldridge is an IAL M.Ed. graduate student who is currently interning with Glacier Middle School as a P.E. and Health Teacher, as well as a softball and soccer coach. Teagan recently sat down with Jake Silver from the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics to answer a few questions about his experience so far in the IAL program.

This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Q: What led you to apply to the IAL program? 

A: I did my undergrad at Western Washington University, where I was a student-athlete and studied in Physical Education and Health. I knew I wanted to continue to be in sports after graduating. In 2019, when I was a sophomore at Western, I had a conversation with an IAL alum who strongly recommended the program. This really interested me because I wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. Since I had that conversation in 2019, my mind has been set on applying to the IAL program. 

Q; What has been the most rewarding part of the IAL program so far?

A: The most rewarding aspect of the IAL program so far has been my internship experience coaching middle school athletes. Over two seasons, coaching girls’ softball and boys’ soccer, I’ve seen the athletes make huge strides and improvements, which has been so rewarding. One moment that stands out was when a player from my boys’ soccer team told me in the middle of a recent game, “I really like how positive of a coach you are.” That was so rewarding and encouraging to hear. I have focused on applying the learnings from IAL into my middle school coaching to create a more positive play environment.

Q: Can you share a memorable experience from the IAL program so far? 

A: The fall extended weekend in October was really nice because I had not seen much of the cohort since the summer, when we were together in class almost every day. Being back with the cohort was especially fun because that week was in the lead-up to the UW vs. Oregon football game and College Gameday coming to campus. The experience of being on campus, surrounded by friends was a refreshing break from the routine of my internship. Our cohort has a really close dynamic. I would consider everyone in the cohort a friend and someone I could call outside of class. We spent a lot of time together outside of summer in the summer and at the fall extended weekend. It’s been really interesting to hear all the different backgrounds of everyone in the cohort. For example, I was a Division 2 student-athlete who played soccer, and someone like Victoria was a Division 1 student-athlete who was a rower. Everyone’s unique undergrad experience and athletic background has helped me learn more about different sides of athletics.

Q: How has the IAL program experience contributed to your professional development?

A: The IAL program has been great for my professional development. I’ve applied learnings from the coaching and pipeline classes into my coaching role at Glacier. Also, the networking opportunities that have come from being in the program have been so helpful because I have been able to have conversations with people in so many different sides of the athletics industry. 

Q: What advice would you give to incoming students considering the IAL program? 

A: For anyone considering the IAL program, I would say the IAL program can open up so many opportunities in collegiate or professional sports. The faculty range from senior-level staff at division one and three schools, beat writers for the Seahawks, law professors, and so many other people who work on different sides of the sports industry. I honestly was not too excited for the law class, but that class was actually one of my favorites because we learned so much about the law and policies of athletics. I have built so many connections through the program. Also, the structure of the program is great because you are surrounded by 40 other graduate students who you quickly become friends with in and outside class.

Q: What are the main responsibilities of your internship and what do you enjoy most about it?

A: I am a P.E. and Health Teacher at Glacier Middle School, teaching classes and coaching softball and soccer. I really enjoy coaching because it is natural for me, coming from an athletics playing background. It is really fun to still be around soccer and help 12 and 13-year-olds learn new parts of the game and keep them playing the sport I love for a long time. 

Q: Have you had the opportunity to apply knowledge you have gained from the IAL program at your internship? 

A: In IAL we have stressed the importance of a coach needing to create a psychologically safe environment. I try to make it very clear to my team that they can make mistakes, and I will not get mad at them. I tell them it’s about how we react to mistakes. If a player loses possession of the ball, a positive response is trying really hard to get the ball back, not sulking or getting yelled at by their teammates or coaches. So many coaches I have competed against over the years make their players feel scared to mess up. In the coaching class, we have learned the importance of a psychologically safe environment. By telling my players they can have a positive reaction after making a mistake, it shows them that as an athlete, it is okay to make a mistake. At the beginning of the season, players on my team would get mad at their teammates for making mistakes. I have coached them to not break their teammates down but instead to build them up through encouragement.

Q: In what ways do you see your IAL experience shaping your future career path? 

A: In the IAL program, we have learned how to make the most of these internship opportunities. I have gained experience in speaking to the parents of youth athletes about problems or issues. I am gaining a lot of experience working through those situations with parents in a professional manner. Discussing sensitive subjects like these with parents is a skill I did not have before the IAL program, but now I feel well-equipped in these situations. Also, faculty like Hannah Olson have been so generous with their time and helpful for my career development. Another faculty member that stands out is Ed Scott, the Deputy Athletics Director at the University of Virginia. I had a couple of individual conversations with him over the summer, which were really impactful. Hearing about what he deals with in his day-to-day job and how he manages the complex situations that pop up in Power 5 Athletics was so fascinating. His professionalism and presence stood out to me, and I recognized I should model his work ethic throughout my own career.