The United States Sports Academy is known around the world for having taught sport education programs in some 65 countries. The Daphne-based institution, though, has not forgotten its local connections.

Students from Murphy High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program recently crossed Mobile Bay to learn about career options in the world of sports. Meanwhile, USSA has entered into an articulation agreement with Bishop State Community College that will help their students complete a Bachelor of Sports Science degree.

The IB program’s stated goal is to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. With the advanced IB class schedule, most of Murphy’s students had already taken the high school’s kinesiology and sports medicine courses.

While in Daphne, they learned about careers in sports and toured the American Sport Art Museum & Archives. Next was a visit to USSA’s Human Performance Laboratory, where faculty members Dr. Brandon Spradley, director of sports management, and Dr. Vincent Ramsey, chair of sports exercise science, along with doctoral teaching assistant Jason Williams demonstrated the use of the institution’s advanced sports science equipment.

The visit also included a panel discussion with Spradley; Ramsey; Dr. Stephen Butler, dean of academic affairs; Dr. Vincent Nix, dean of student services; Dr. Fred Cromartie, director of doctoral studies; Dr. Rodney Blackman, chair of recreation management; and doctoral teaching assistant Sara Weber. The session focused on how the faculty members became involved in the sports profession and what the students can do to prepare themselves for a career in the field.

“Today we got to see a lot of amazing sports art, and we learned some of the history behind what’s happened in sports here in the United States and around the world,” Murphy student Paul Lockett said. “Not only that, but we actually got to meet and speak to some of the faculty members who are here at the Academy. It was great to hear from them about careers in the sport profession that we can pursue in the future.”

Back in August, the USSA staff entered into an articulation agreement with Stillman College — a historically black liberal arts college located in Tuscaloosa — with the goal of getting qualified applicants into its Master of Sports Science degree program.

Under the agreement with Mobile-based Bishop State, USSA will admit qualified graduates into its Bachelor of Sports Science program. This offers majors in sports coaching, sports management, sports strength plus conditioning and sports studies. The program is fully online, allowing students to complete the degree at their own pace.

In return, Bishop State will allow USSA bachelor’s degree students who have not completed some courses in the state-required General Education Curriculum to take them through Bishop State.

“This agreement represents another option for our graduates at Bishop State Community College to make a seamless transfer to the United States Sports Academy,” Bishop State President Dr. Reginald Sykes said.

USSA will also work with Bishop State to develop sports-related curricula that are mutually accepted by both institutions. The Academy also will invite qualified Bishop State faculty members to become members of the its national faculty, a group of educators who teach in the institution’s various sport education programs around the world.

“I believe that this step forward will enable the two institutions to work together to provide more opportunities for students in southwest Alabama to further their education, particularly in the many disciplines of sports,” Academy President Dr. T.J. Rosandich said. “We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues at Bishop State in making this goal a reality.”

Cross-country winners
Two area high school runners captured individual state cross-country titles during the Alabama championships at the Oakville Indian Mounds Course. In Class 7A, senior Grace Jensen of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School covered the 5-kilometer course in 18:00.51. In Class 5A, Faith Academy eighth-grader Olivia Andrews ran the distance in 18:59.40.

Other Top 10 finishers and team results are as follows:

• Class 7A girls — Baker was fifth and McGill-Toolen was sixth;

• Class 7A boys — Fairhope was tenth;

• Class 6A girls — Nicole Luther of Daphne was tenth (20:01.31); Daphne was sixth while Spanish Fort was seventh;

• Class 6A boys — Daphne was tenth;

• Class 5A girls — Close behind Andrews were Isabel Valenzuela of St. Paul’s Episcopal in second (19:07.43) and Faith’s Bailey Lansdown in third place (19:17.71); St. Paul’s finished fourth and Faith was fifth.

• Class 5A boys — Myles Stoots of Faith was seventh (16:41.92); Faith was sixth and St. Paul’s was seventh;

• Class 3A girls — Mary Catherine Branyon of Bayside Academy was fifth (20:14.98) and her team took fourth place;

• Class 3A boys — Bayside finished in third place; and

• Class 2A girls — Kaelyn Horn of St. Luke’s Episcopal finished sixth (20:04.61). St. Luke’s tied Hatton in team points, but took third place as the result of a tiebreaker.

Alabama awards recreation grants
Gov. Kay Ivey has announced $3.3 million in grants to expand recreational trails in several communities across the state. Of the 18 sites chosen, two are along the Gulf Coast.

The Mobile County Commission received $182,160 to construct a 10-foot-wide, three-quarter-mile paved multi-use trail at Chickasabogue Park. Trailside benches will be added.

Orange Beach got $116,532 to construct a .65-mile trail to connect the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail to the Orange Beach Sportsplex. The connecting trail will loop around a lake and a natural area.

“Outdoor trails lead to healthier minds and bodies, and they are a great investment in our state and communities,” Ivey said. “I welcome these new or improved trails, and I encourage everyone to visit one and experience the outdoors that Alabama offers.”

The grants were awarded from funds made available to the state from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the program in Alabama.

(Photo | Submitted) USSA Director of Sports Management Dr. Brandon Spradley, left, demonstrates the King-Devick Test concussion screening system with Murphy High School students Mariana Orozco and Christopher Dent.