Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Galen Trail

Galen Trail, Asst. Professor - Sports Management Program

Iowa State University


As the Program Coordinator for the Sports Management Option and Assistant Professor for the Sports Management Program at Iowa State University, Dr. Galen Trail has several responsibilities. Entering his sixth year at Iowa State, Dr. Trail was not always looking at this career, but one thing was certain, sports was his calling.

“This wasn’t something I set out to do. I started out being a PE teacher and both a volleyball and basketball coach, but after awhile I realized that wasn’t what I really wanted to do,” said Trail.

At the beginning of his career, Galen was the director of a Physical Education program at a Kindergarten-12th grade school. “I coached basketball at different levels for four years, and volleyball for five years. From there, I was also in charge of the activity program evaluation at Ohio State. One of my jobs was to go around and evaluate the people that taught in the activities programs at Ohio State, like basketball, volleyball, swimming, etc…”

After realizing that sports management was where his interests were, Trail went back to Ohio State University to get his Ph. D. in the field. “Managing sports organizations, administering athletic departments, the marketing of sports, that sort of thing is what interested me. So after I got my Ph. D., Iowa State hired me to teach in the sport management program and from there I became the Sports Management Option Coordinator.”

One of Dr. Trail’s primary responsibilities is to make sure the curriculum is functional for the undergraduate sport management option. Trail explains, “I determine, along with other sport management professors, what classes the undergraduate student should take, when they should take them, in what order they should take them, and what the content is.”

Dr. Trail also works on career placement to help the students on their prospective career path by determining what an appropriate internship is for the student’s culminating experience.

There is more to Dr. Trail’s job than setting up the curriculum and coordinating internships. “Roughly 40% of my job is the teaching and administrating of the sports management option. This includes teaching classes, dealing with student supervision, talking to them about internships, helping them look at different possibilities of internships, clarifying what they want to do as future sport managers. Another 40% of my job is doing research. Then the remaining 20% is service oriented, either service to the university or to the community.”

When all is said and done, a student that attends the program at Iowa State University will be prepared to “Work in Sports”, but Trail adds that if they did it right, the job hunt will be a short one. “We try to get them an internship with an organization, one they have expressed an interest in, and let them try to turn it into a job as soon as they are done with their internship. Additionally, we try to get them into different sports organizations early in their undergraduate career so they have multiple experiences at different organizations and at different levels and doing different things, even if it is only a couple of hours a week so they can figure out what they like and don’t like.”

If you want to “Work in Sports”, the key is not necessarily your knowledge. “I think you should try to get as well known as possible with the people from which you want a job. So what I typically say is, it is not what you know, it is not even who you know, it is who knows you.”

This is where the program at Iowa State can be helpful. “That is what we really try to do; we try to get our undergrads out into the sports organizations that they see themselves working for in the future.”

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