Arias is currently in her seventeenth year of teaching middle school physical and health education, and in her ninth season as an assistant softball coach at Princeton University.
After completing the master’s program, Arias reached her goal of becoming a college professor. She is currently teaching at Rider in the athletic leadership program.
Nicole Arias has had a love for sports since she can remember.
Arias began her sports career at an early age and credits her third-grade teacher for encouraging her to stay in the game even during times when playing with all boys. However, it wasn’t until her teenage years that she discovered that she wanted to lead both on and off the field after developing an interest in teaching and coaching sports. During her senior year of high school, she was given the opportunity that ultimately paved the way for her career when she was hired as a coach at a summer sports camp.
“I was the only female coach for many years, and I never once felt like an outsider. Instead, I was embraced and mentored by some phenomenal coaches of the game and was given a lot of respect. It never phased the boys I was coaching that I was a female. All they knew was I was good at baseball and could make them better. This camp gave me so much confidence in not only coaching sports but in life. It helped mold me into the coach and teacher I am today.”
Taking her career in sports to the next level
Prior to enrolling in Rider’s athletic leadership master’s program, Arias was already working in the athletics field as a longtime health and physical education teacher and assistant coach. Seeking to expand her knowledge and career, she chose Rider after hearing positive feedback from colleagues in her industry about the program and the faculty.
“Rider taught me a lot of new material that I was able to apply right away into my profession as a teacher and college coach. More importantly, it gave me the confidence to implement my new learning because of how thorough the professors were in teaching these practices. In many of my courses, I received validation of the practices I have already been doing in my profession that have led me to succeed. And on the flip side, it challenged me to evaluate what I have been doing and where changes could be made.”
She continues, “I valued the connections and networking I was able to make with my professors and my peers in my classes. I loved having classmates from all over the country and learning from their experiences and ideas shared in class.”
Arias notes that one of the biggest ways that earning her master’s degree from Rider has positively impacted her career is by giving her the opportunity to teach on the collegiate level. She is now in her second year of teaching in the very program that she graduated from at Rider.
“Teaching has provided me with a purpose. I am a lifelong learner and love to teach others about the topics I am passionate about. I enjoy teaching graduate-level students who are in all different stages of life and have had different experiences.”
Rider taught me a lot of new material that I was able to apply right away in my profession as a teacher and college coach.”
Designing her Rider athletic development course from scratch
Arias is currently teaching a course titled “Athletic Development” which is part of the athletic leadership graduate curriculum. The structure for the course, which Arias says was first introduced to her by Dr. Gary Brosvic, faculty in Rider’s athletic leadership program, was designed to prepare students to address major issues in sports and society. These issues include the dropout rate of athletes, the increase in sports-related injuries and the sedentary lifestyles of athletes, and others, who have suffered injuries. Using this as a starting point, Arias then correlated these topics to the long-term athlete development (LTAD) model, a framework that isn’t covered in detail at most institutions.
“The LTAD Model is a seven-stage framework designed to promote life-long involvement in sports and physical activity that gives all individuals the opportunity to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive environment.”
She continues, “The students in my course have many different roles in sports and all can gain something from learning about this model. I have had athletes and coaches make adjustments to the way they train or coach their athletes because of the knowledge they have gained in my course. Some are administrators who can pass along this information to their coaches.”
Arias also personalizes the learning experience by developing close working relationships with students to better tailor her course content to what students are currently doing in the field while finding new ways to challenge them. Similar to her graduate learning experience, she does this in hopes of students applying their classroom training to their lives and careers immediately
“I have had many students share how this course has changed the ways they have performed their roles in athletics whether that is coaching, being a leader in a sports organization, training as a current athlete, or changing their approaches to developing their children in sport.”
I have had many students share how my course has changed the ways they have performed their roles in athletics whether that is coaching, being a leader in a sports organization, training as a current athlete, or changing their approaches to developing their children in sport.”
Leveling the playing field for women in sports
Having built a successful career in the industry that she loves, Arias can undoubtedly be considered a trailblazer who is changing the game in this widely male-dominated industry.
“I believe women have been underrepresented in athletics for a long time. I remember reading a stat in 2019 from the Women’s BreakThrough Summit, that women coached only 41% of women’s college teams. I will say there have been some strides forward in providing more opportunities for women in sports but there is still much more work to be done. Although there are now more opportunities, I hope that they are genuine and not just about meeting a quota or becoming a media headliner.”
She continues, “I am blessed and thankful for each day that I can step out onto the sports field whether as an athlete or as a coach. Many women came before me that fought long and hard to provide me with the opportunities I had to play sports while growing up. I feel it is only right that I pay it forward and continue to pave the way for future generations of women in sports.”
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