In February 2021, Shenandoah University began partnering with the professional women’s soccer team the Washington Spirit to provide free classes to players in exchange for internships, hospitality, and promotion.
Through the partnership, Spirit players can enroll, tuition-free, in Shenandoah’s graduate and undergraduate courses. One of these individuals is goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who is enrolled in the MBA program.
This past spring semester, Bledsoe took two graduate-level courses: Management Information Systems 514, and HR Management, Ethics and Employment Law (MGT535). Currently, she’s enrolled in a 500-level economics class, and her plan is to graduate in 2023.
I really enjoyed my spring classes,” she said. “Both were very interactive. It’s mind blowing what you can do online nowadays. It’s pretty cool to see how Zoom works and the breakout rooms. And it’s fun to be in a classroom environment and have some friends outside of my teammates and to get to know people in the Shenandoah community.”
Bledsoe, 29, and her teammates are at the beginning of a marathon season that ends Nov. 20. She trains in the morning, goes home to relax, and then spends her evenings dedicated to school work. She has to be proactive with her assignments because every weekend involves games and traveling and leaves little time for studying.
Although juggling school and soccer has been tougher than she thought, she said she has learned a lot from Shenandoah and its “very diverse” students and faculty.
It’s an incredible opportunity,” Bledsoe said. “It’s something I’m very thankful for and excited to take advantage of. When we inevitably retire, there’s not too much available to us that we can get into because soccer has taken up most of our lives. It’s great to obtain another skillset and to see what I’m passionate about.”
Bledsoe, who aspires to be a general manager or owner of a professional soccer team one day, said that the business knowledge she has gained in her classes has helped her become a better liaison between the Washington Spirit’s front office and her teammates.
“I hope that what I’ve learned will ultimately benefit the players,” she said.