Christyal Holloway loves contests, but the former guard on the Red Wolves women’s basketball team has no interest in playing the waiting game.
Holloway will have completed the A-State online Master of Science in Sport Administration program in just 12 months when she finishes her last course in August 2018. Holloway graduated with a Bachelor of Science in sport and fitness administration with a minor in business management on campus — and a 3.97 GPA — in 2017.
“Earning the master’s degree was the plan when I started school,” she said. “A lot of what propelled me toward A-State was the opportunity to be on the fast track. I was playing basketball for the first two years, but I still completed my undergraduate degree in three years. I knew with that fourth year that if I had the opportunity to get a master’s degree, I might as well go ahead and knock it out.”
Holloway is close to doing just that. She didn’t wait for graduation day to start her career, either. Holloway became an executive assistant for the Arkansas High School Activities Association three months before her online master’s degree program completion date. Score!
“I like my job,” she said. “A-State also helped me because internships are built into the degree program. I was doing internships at the Arkansas High School Activities Association every summer when I had breaks playing basketball and came home. Then, a full-time position opened up for me.”
The online format afforded Holloway the flexibility to work full-time as a sales associate at Orangetheory Fitness in Little Rock for nearly a year before seamlessly transitioning to her current role in May 2018.
“The online master’s degree has been flexible. This program allows me to gain work experience and to get out in the field,” she said. “They give you a whole week to do your coursework and tell you what to do, so you pretty much get more time to plan everything out.”
In addition to playing basketball, Holloway ran track at Parkview High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was rated a three-star recruit when she came to A-State to continue her basketball career.
Holloway played in 49 games in two seasons with the Red Wolves, helping them win a Sun Belt Conference championship in 2015-16. She was named the team’s Student-Athlete of the Year for having the highest GPA on the team her sophomore season, served as co-president of the A-State Sport Management Club and was the team representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
“I’m passionate about sports,” she said. “I knew that I didn’t want to coach, and a professional playing career was not in the works for me. I really wanted to stay involved, though. This is a way to give back to high school sports in Arkansas and progressing paths for student-athletes.”
In addition to doing summer internships for her current employer, she was also a student intern at A-State in 2017. The coursework in the online MS in Sport Administration program laid the foundation for Holloway to work for the Arkansas High School Activities Association.
“It has definitely helped a lot interacting with people and managing business,” she said. “Having that experience and being able to apply the concepts really overlaps with what you do in the real world. The most enjoyable thing for me is the management and what goes on behind the scenes.”
ESPE 6163: Sport Governance & Operations was one of Holloway’s favorite courses in the curriculum.
“That course applies a lot to my job right now,” she said. “I also liked Sport Law [ESPE 6113] and Sport in Society [ESPE 6603]. Really, all of the courses have been helpful. More so now, I can recall things that I learned in the past and apply them to what I do.”
Both of Holloway’s parents, Charles and Teressa, are college-educated. Her mother has two master’s degrees, which made attending college a slam dunk for Holloway.
“They’re probably more excited about the master’s degree than I am,” she said. “The standard was always set high for education.”
After earning a degree from an on-campus program, Holloway recognizes the different keys to success in an online program.
“You have to be self-sufficient and really good with your time management, although I never felt overwhelmed,” she said. “There was always enough time to fit in what I needed to do.”
Just like on any basketball or business team, building relationships is also vital to success in the online MS in Sport Administration program.
“Another good reason for me to stay with A-State for the online master’s program was that I had all of the same professors I had in undergrad,” she said. “It solidified that relationship we built on campus. Any time I needed anything, they were very responsive.”
Holloway hopes the graduate degree will eventually help her become an athletic director and enable Arkansas high school athletes to take advantage of opportunities, like she did.
“With this position, I’m working toward that,” Holloway said. “Eventually, I’ll be over cheer and dance and bowling in the state of Arkansas. I pride myself on being a leader at heart.”
Lean more about the A-State online MS in Sport Administration program.