Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
For Nancy Patterson, baseball is more about pulled hamstrings and sore muscles than RBIs and ERAs. Working with the Inland Empire 66ers, a former minor league affiliate of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, turned out to be the perfect first step to her dream job.
The path to the Inland Empire team ran straight through Ithaca, where Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree in clinical exercise science and athletic training in 2006 and a master’s in exercise and sport sciences two years later. Ithaca College prepared her well, she says, for the challenge of pro sports: “The first time being on your own with a team can be nerve-wracking. But between the classes at Ithaca and our on-field experience, I felt very well prepared.”
That on-field experience included working with several Ithaca sports teams and internships with minor league affiliates of the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox.
“When I first graduated, I felt like I was much more prepared and experienced than recent grads from other programs,” Patterson says. “I attribute this to the way IC’s program is put together and the outstanding professors who put in the extra time and effort to help the students succeed.”
And succeed she has. After joining the Inland Empire 66ers team as its athletic trainer in the winter of 2009, Nancy got promoted to the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. Then the call from the big leagues came: she’s now assistant athletic trainer for the L.A. Dodgers.
“Going to Ithaca is what allowed me to go into baseball,” Nancy says. “Everyone has heard of Ithaca’s athletic training program.”
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There are no bogeys when it comes to finding a major in college. So when Adam Karnish switched from biology to chemistry and then to physics during his first two years at Ithaca College, he was never in danger of going over par.
The lifelong golfer’s fondness for math and science eventually drew him to Ithaca’s physics department. “I’ve always been a logical thinker, and physics is the study of how things work, so that really interested me,” he says.
The summer before his senior year, Adam joined an Ithaca College/Cornell research team studying the composition of an asteroid. The project required remotely accessing the controls of a telescope in Hawaii to do some of the work.
For his senior research project, Adam turned his attention to a different flying object: the golf ball. The real goal was to develop his knowledge of computer modeling software, but he took the opportunity to apply it to something he enjoyed.
After graduation, Adam landed a job with the United States Golf Association, where he now works to define individual course ratings and handicaps using statistical analysis and linear regression—skills he honed in Ithaca’s physics department.
“Within the first 10 years, a new golf course goes through big changes,” Adam says. “Trees, grasses, speed of the green—it evolves dramatically.” Because of that, a course needs to be rated at least three times in its first 10 years of existence, he says, and then once every 10 years after.
Theoretical scores produced from the course rating are compared to actual golfers’ scores to determine the course handicap. Those results are fed back into the course rating system.
“If the score is affected more by shots near the green, or by the difficulty of the contours of the green, that information needs to be weighed more heavily to reflect the actual scores made by players,” Adam says.
Adam also teaches course rating and handicap systems at golf courses around the country. Giving research presentations as a student helped prepare him for this aspect of the job, too.
“One thing I really learned at Ithaca was how to speak in front of a group of people and explain my thoughts clearly, in an organized manner, to convey whatever message I'm trying to bring to the audience,” he says.
>> More on this story: How to Get Involved in Research
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