Passionate for teaching others, James Frey, a first-year student in the master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletics administration (MAIAA) program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, enjoys developing people’s best qualities to help them be successful. Frey grew up in Meriden, Connecticut, and majored in physical education at Central Connecticut State University. He planned on becoming a teacher after graduation.
A member of the track and field team at CCSU, Frey competed on four consecutive Northeast Conference Championship teams as a javelin thrower. Despite spending ample time studying, training and competing as a member of the team, he found openings in his schedule to intern with his school's sports marketing department and serve as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). He also attended monthly meetings with their athletic department's top administrators as a member of the University Athletics Board. These hands-on experiences in collegiate athletics made him rethink his original plan of becoming a physical education teacher and strive to become an athletic administrator.
"Being in the loop in the athletic department meetings opened my eyes to the reasons we were able to win all those championships," said Frey. "I learned about the budget challenges, compliance process and how our administrators worked tirelessly to provide a great experience for student-athletes. I loved competing on the track and field team and winning championships, and wanted to stay involved with student-athletes. At that point, I knew that working in athletic administration was exactly what I wanted to do."
During his last two years of college, he met frequently with former CCSU Athletic Director Paul Schlickmann, who saw Frey's passion for chasing a career in collegiate athletics. He had heard about Nebraska's MAIAA program from a colleague and brought it up to Frey as a way to pursue his master's degree and get his foot in the door in athletics.
"I had been looking at a couple graduate programs in the northeast, but one day it just hit me. Nebraska is as good as it gets when it comes to college sports. It's a Big Ten athletic department with a rich history and some of the best traditions of anywhere in the country. This was the program I wanted to be in more than anything so I went all-in to try and make my dreams come true," said Frey.
He worked tirelessly on his résumé, cover letter and personal statement to make sure everything looked perfect when he sent in his application. In early February, Frey was notified that he had been selected as a finalist for the MAIAA program and flew out to Lincoln for an interview. A week after returning to Connecticut he was notified of his selection. He accepted the invitation immediately.
"I am a big family guy, so I had been nervous about moving away from home," he said. "Being able to fly out and see what Nebraska had to offer made me excited about the opportunity I have to grow and continue my career. My athletic director at CCSU told me if I wanted to achieve my goals and make a name for myself in this industry, I would have to venture out of my comfort zone and gain new experiences. I took that to heart, and the great people at Nebraska helped make this one of the best decisions of my life."
Frey is one of 12 first-year students in the fourth cohort of the MAIAA program at Nebraska, which is a joint program between the College of Business and Nebraska Department of Athletics. He works as a graduate assistant in the college’s Center for Sales Excellence. He will be applying for his second-year graduate assistant position in the athletic department in March. He hopes to work in athletic development.
To learn more about the MAIAA program, visit: business.unl.edu/maiaa