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Building Support Systems: Opiela Uses Sports Management Degree to Pour Into Others

Do you want one of the most supportive sports management programs? Find your support system with a sports management degree at Grace College.

Relationships are important. Whether it be a mentor that helps you grow or friends that lift you up, it is equally important to balance being supported by others and giving back to those around you. 

As Assistant Director of Athletic Communications at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jon Opiela is constantly guided by the professors and friends who have impacted him. In return, he uses the skills and support he gained during his sports management degree to pour back into the students he works with. 

Do you want one of the most supportive sports management programs? Find your support system with a sports management degree at Grace College.

Sports Management Degree Pours In…

Opiela didn’t always have the same professional support system he has now. 

In high school, Opiela enjoyed playing sports, so when it came to choose a career, he says, “I figured I should do the next best thing. Instead of playing sports, I’ll work in them.” 

After playing in a high school baseball tournament at Grace College’s Miller Field, Opiela fell in love with the Grace College campus. “It was all a God thing where I ended up,” he says. After looking to see what programs Grace had to offer, it was evident a sports management degree was a perfect fit. 

During his time at Grace, Opiela learned the value of servant leadership. Sports Management Professor Dr. Darrell Johnson required students to work at athletic events, doing tasks such as selling tickets, working concessions, and mopping floors. They were asked to do the “little things people wouldn’t notice until they’re just not there,” Opiela says. 

In the same vein, Opiela was continually inspired by how Grace Athletic Director Chad Briscoe “would never be too good to lend a helping hand.” Through Briscoe’s example, Opiela learned that the best leaders are not above doing mundane tasks when they are for the good of the organization. 

Dr. Johnson also taught his students about being a P.R.I.Z.E: people-oriented, responsible, innovative, zealous, and exceptional. Opiela says that when graduates of Grace’s sports management programs connect now, they talk about the ways they are being a P.R.I.Z.E. 

“Looking back, these are actual traits we aim for,” he says. “They help Grace students stand out when looking for jobs.”

Opiela graduated from Grace in 2019 and landed a job working at a university in Georgia, where he also worked alongside the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, like many individuals around the world, he lost his job. But not long after, he found a job posting for Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, and within a week, he was moving to Oklahoma to be the communications manager for the baseball team. 

“It was a lot of fun and very stressful, but it was something I will never regret doing,” Opiela says. “I’ve learned that I tend to grow the most and get the most out of my life when I’m in a spot where I’m uncomfortable, and the move to Oklahoma was just that.”

Do you want one of the most supportive sports management programs? Find your support system with a sports management degree at Grace College.

…Opiela Pours Out

At Oral Roberts University, Opiela works with baseball, women’s soccer, and indoor track and field. In addition to inputting statistics and game scores so those not there can track the game, he handles online marketing such as social media, press releases, and graphics. His job enables him to spotlight and encourage the players in their accomplishments, acting as the ultimate hype man. “I like to joke that I’m an Instagram boyfriend for 100 students,” he says. 

But his support for students goes beyond the digital channels he oversees. In his job, Opiela enjoys the meaningful conversations he can have with students. “What makes my job really special is the relationships I’m able to build on a daily basis,” he says. When he talks to students, he likes to learn about who they are and then share their stories with others. But as Opiela cultivates a new community at Oral Roberts, he will never forget the family he’s found through Grace’s sports management programs. 

Opiela continues to seek guidance from Grace’s Sports Information Director and Assistant Athletic Director Josh Neuhart to this day. Because of the similar nature of their jobs, Opiela looks to Neuhart as a guide. “Learning from Josh has helped me grow as a professional and as a person,” Opiela says. 

Opiela looks at his time in Grace’s sports management programs as vital to his career growth — a place where he was poured into so that he could pour out. 

“It’s a blessing that people at Grace care for you longer than the three or four years you’re in school,” Opiela said. “At Grace College, you don’t just get a degree, you build a family.”

Do you want to be poured into by one of the most supportive sports management programs? Check out our School of Business faculty and find your support system with our sports management degree

Tagged With: School of Business, Alumni