Interview with two-time US Olympic bobsled driver, Nick Cunningham
Nick joined the online MCE program this past summer to expand his knowledge in coaching. Nick earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from Boise State, where he was also team captain for the track team. In 2008, Nick began bobsledding and quickly joined the World Cup team. Nick is a two-time US Olympic bobseld driver with sights on the XXIII 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. When Nick isn’t immersed in bobsledding, he is a motivational speaker for corporate professionals, college students, and young kids.
Why did you choose the OU MCE online program?
I looked at a few different programs, but since bobsledding and my career as a motivational speaker require a lot of travel I really needed something that was completely online. The online format allows me to live my personal and professional life while getting my master’s degree. Also, I wanted to make sure I chose a program that I am really passionate about. I knew that I wanted to live a life in athletics, whether as a coach or athletic director.
How has the program helped you in your career thus far? / How are you using the curriculum in your current position?
The information is very relevant. I am able to take what I’ve learned in class, which really gets into the intricacies of sport and apply across the board. In one course we talked about the mental element of sport and I really learned a lot and was able to apply the information to myself and for other athletes. I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming courses.
How are you able to balance your studies with your career and personal life?
Every week is different; sometimes I am doing work on the plane or whenever I can find time. Being that this is an online course, I’m able to log in when and where I can.
If you could give advice to a potential student considering the OU MCE online program, what would it be?
My advice to prospective students is to stay on top of your work. Be proactive. The courses are so interesting that you will look forward to reading the next chapter.
What has surprised you the most about the program (a specific course, the online interaction, etc)?
I am really happy with how I am able to interact and engage with other students. The online aspect was foreign to me, I didn’t know how the tests going to be or if I’d have a lot of interaction with my instructor. Once you get a hang of it though, it is really easy.
The great thing about the program is that I have literally seen students from every background – From new coaches with a few years of experience to seasoned coaches with over 20 years of experience, from Division I or II coaches to middle and high school coaches. This allows for really unique discussions.
The program is not focused on a specific sport. Did you consider such a program? If so, why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I like that the program looks at the broad spectrum of sports and coaching. I feel that it will make me well-versed for future opportunities as a coach or athletic director.
Did the MCE program change any misconceptions you previously had about coaching as a profession? How so…
I’ve gone through all levels of coaching. I take coaching very seriously and have always seen it as a serious profession. Oftentimes people do not see all that goes into a successful coach – the broadcasted games only show win or loses and that is mostly what people focus on. What they don’t see is all of the preparation and training that takes place throughout the season. How are these coaches developing their athletes? That is the behind the scenes work that coaches are doing.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I’d tell anyone that is thinking about getting into the program: You’re only going to get out of the program what you put in. If students really invest themselves into the program they can set themselves up for great career opportunities in the field of athletics.