IAL Alumni Spotlight - Sam Brown
Graduated: 2017 - Administration
Current Role: Eligibility Coordinator at Washington Interscholastic Activities Association
First and foremost, how did you decide the scholastic level was right for you?
I really, really love the scholastic level because it is an even blend of education, active participation in something school-related, and the “local” level. Although I can’t speak for the collegiate atmosphere, I feel like the scholastic level allows you to be in closer contact with all parties involved (from student, to parent, to athletic director, to administrator, to school, to district, to state, etc.).
How did you hear about the IAL program and why did you decide that it was a right fit for you?
I heard about the IAL program first from my dear friend and fellow alum, Sarah Martinez (Go Seawolves!!). I was working in and coaching at a high school and felt that I needed to extend my education in order to have more influence in the things that mattered to me (sport/activity participation, school leadership, student equity/diversity/rights).
You mentioned before that during your time in the program, you felt several times that IAL might not be the right fit, could you explain why that was and how you overcame that belief?
I felt like I was a fish out of water to be honest. I was not a collegiate athlete, I had little aspiration to want to become a D1 athletic director, administrator or coach, and I had little knowledge of terms such as...the SEC or BIG10, but as I quickly found out, that was not what the IAL program was about. I really excelled in the program because IAL at the end of the day is a program that strives to help students understand what being an effective leader looks like, and how to work successfully with people. Plain and simple. Yes, the program brings in speakers from collegiate campuses and high profile worlds, but really, these people are just established leaders who really know how to work with people and how to work FOR people.
Can you explain a bit more about your role at WIAA and what it entails?
I am the Eligibility Coordinator. I help students and families who have been notified as ineligible at the school and district level, and help them navigate the state-level appeals process. I am also lucky enough to be an advisor to our student leadership committee (similar to SAAC groups), I assist in running all of our state events, I direct our annual state coaches conference, and I sit on our Diversity Committee.
What’s been the biggest challenge you face in your current role and how have you dealt with it?
To be honest, work is hard, but you can learn a job–anyone can push themselves to learn and work hard. For me, the biggest challenge has been learning to navigate the people-side of my job. I have been in many situations at work where I am driving home and am processing my day and I think, “man... Sara Lopez (Director of the IAL program) was right...don’t engage in cooler talk!” It’s the little lessons and tips that were given to us in IAL that have really come in handy and have allowed me to move up and excel in both my day-to-day duties, but also my social role within the workplace.
What aspects of your education from the IAL M.Ed. program at UW proved to be the most useful in your current position?
Learning how complex and important communication and relationships are. Learning how to navigate those situations, how to stand up for important issues, how to read social situations, timing of communication, DOCUMENTING everything, and being true to myself.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d love to be in a high school or community college setting. The eligibility work I’m doing now gives me purpose, and I’d love to evolve into student advocacy and sport/activity policy work. I’d also love to get back into coaching!
What advice would you give to another IAL student who may feel that the intercollegiate level may not be where they want to work after graduation?
Give everything a chance, but don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right. I’m not saying to give up when the going gets tough, but don’t waste time being somewhere you do not want to be.