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"Drive & Kick" with Dr. Kim Bush - Video & Summary

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Alley Oop Hoops presents

"Drive & Kick" with Dr. Kim Bush, Director of Undergraduate Programming in Parks, Recreation, Tourism Management at NC State University.

View the conversation summary below.


Students return to campus at NCSU

Kim serves as Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Parks, Recreation, Tourism Management Department, which includes Sports Management at NC State. Yesterday was the first day for classes on campus – it was great to see a summer of preparation and planning roll out live. Originally, when they surveyed students in June, 60-80% wanted face-to-face, and now that students are back on campus, that has flipped to where the majority prefer online. In Kim’s classes, she has had 80% who wanted to do virtual learning. She does a Zoom group and face-to-face group. NCSU has made it easier to social distance. There are picnic tables all around campus, a great way to social distance but still connect with students and faculty. Almost everyone on campus, 99.5% of people, are wearing masks.

Kim’s experience in youth sports

Sports were a big part of Kim’s life. When she first started playing sports, she was on boys’ teams as there were no girls team. She began with baseball and soccer, and then later added basketball and softball when girls’ teams existed. She discovered field hockey in middle school. The turning point for Kim was in to her freshmen year of high school, she did a sleep-away camp with the high school field hockey team with triple sessions of training per day. Thankful to her parents, who did not have the money to send her but they found it. In high school, she played basketball, field hockey, and soccer through her junior year, and focused solely on field hockey her senior year. She then picked up a job training youth field hockey before college.

Studying sports management

Kim did not initially intend to go in to sports management, which is a reason why she likes working with students who find their way to sports management. If it’s the right fit for the students to leave sports management to go somewhere else, she understands. Initially, Kim was convinced she wanted to practice sports psychiatry. Halfway through her junior year of college, she realized more of her teammates were studying physical education, sports management or parks and recreation. But she was focused on graduating in four years, so she finished Psychology at Ohio State University and went to Ohio University to study physical education and sports administration for a Master’s program. Kim then coached in college – she dropped down to coaching Division III for four years – she played Division I and knew countless players who came in to Division I loving the sport but that it eventually felt like work, so she wanted to see if the same was the case at the Division III level. After coaching for several years, she went back to school for her second Master’s and PhD in Sport and Exercise. During this second Master’s program was opened up to discrepancies in society, which is where her academic passion really came out.

What brought her to Raleigh

Kim came to Raleigh for an opportunity to teach at Meredith College. She is a big supporter for women in sports and women in general – Meredith’s mission of building strong, successful women was an exciting opportunity. At Meredith, she was teaching physical education, training teachers on how to coach and teach physical education. She taught at Meredith for three years until the opportunity arose at NC State University to teach in the parks and recreation department teaching sports management.

Social equity

“In an ideal world, we’d all start with the same resources, but it’s not an ideal world. How do we take away some of the challenges for people that exist? How do we make a fair playing ground at much as possible whether it relates to ability and disability, gender and pay, race and ethnicity, or socio-economic status? How do we continue to address these disparities?” Kim is a continued learner in this space, and appreciates that NC State has a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity program as part of the College of Natural Resources as well as another program on campus for the entire organization.

“Social Issues in Sport” course

This is one of Kim’s favorite courses to teach. The intent is to look at different issues and address the issues with different theories. Generally, they spend a week on each topic. Several of the issues covered include:

  • Race and ethnicity in sport – This Fall they will spend two weeks on race and ethnicity. It is clear we have some major discrepancies, inequities, and racism. This presents an opportunity to make significant changes.

  • Socio-economic status – what opportunities we have and don’t have because of our class. How can we ensure that people who aren’t born with still have opportunity?

  • Other topics include: any topics in inter-scholastic sports, violence in youth sports, safety

Athletes defaulting to sports management majors

In the total Parks, Recreation, Sport Management department, they have 600 majors, and at least 150 are student-athletes or heavily involved in athletics. Kim thinks it makes a lot of sense for athletes to study sports management. That was her “ah ha” moment in college. “I can study what I love to do, what helped me get a college education, what was my escape as a child.”

NC State’s sports management program is a top 10 major for the school this year. Several differentiators in the program are:

  1. Focus on sport from the youth level through professional sports.

  2. Focus on sustainability.

  3. Focus on business – accounting, economics, marketing, sports marketing, sports law, sports finance class. Within sports management, there needs to be some level of business understanding.

  4. Many free elective classes – many students minor business, non-profit, or coaching. Many students graduate with a major in sports management or parks and rec, and then 1-3 minors.

Bringing her students in to the community

A lot of Kim’s work is with lower income areas in Raleigh. For years, they have done a program with an elementary school called “College Bound.” Most of the students in the school didn’t know anyone other than their teacher who went to college. From kindergarten, introduce what college means, and empower young children to feel they can attain it if they want. A full day each Spring, 200-300 college students Arts, Academics, and Athletics. Students are paired with a college buddy for the entire day. Her favorite teaching moments came through.

This past year, NCSU sponsored a “Girls and Women in Sports” clinic to invite the community on campus for a day, celebrated at the same time as National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This included going to a women’s game, doing a “Chalk Talk” with the coaches. She has also done runs, walks, festivals partnering with schools.

Intentional work with their partners, mutually beneficial relationships.

“We are not of the mindset that we are going to come in and help you. We are going to gain just as much as you are. How do we set these events up as a partnership?” This is not an egotistical partnership.

Pandemic effect on youth connectivity

Kim feels we can still do a lot virtually to stay connected to younger children during the pandemic. Is it Zoom? Sports lesson? Talking about the history of sports?

One of her learnings in graduate school was the importance of early childhood as a predictor of success. If we know certain groups can’t afford preschools, they are starting out behind and reliant on school to bring them up to speed. With the pandemic, she has major concerns about the gap getting larger and larger. It is challenging for parents in general, but if a parent is a single parent, or both parents work, that discrepancy could grow.

Opportunities for sports management students

Given it is a large school, there are many ways to get involved immediately. game day operations, marketing, media, ticket sales, team managers – any area of interest they have. Local professional teams – NCFC, Firebirds, Hurricanes. Get involved, is the message to their students. They have excellent faculty with worldwide connections. Strong alumni network. On volunteering and internships: “The A’s and B’s are great, but it’s the experience and recommendations that are going to help you navigate your way.”

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