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Eagerness, passion help Watson chart her academic and professional path

Despite growing up in Morgantown with West Virginia University as a constant presence in her life, it wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that Alex Watson would end up a Mountaineer. However, after considering a lifetime immersed on the campus where both her parents were faculty members and the academic opportunities with WVU, the decision ended up being pretty simple.

“I grew up right here,” she says. “For my entire life, my parents, neighbors and many of the people I knew worked at WVU. Through that, I was able to get involved with a lot of things. For example, my neighbor was a neurologist at WVU, and one of my first memories was going to her lab and participating in her studies. And then when I got to high school, I was given the opportunity to go to Honduras with the School of Nursing to volunteer and give free medical care. On top of that, I was able to go to Mexico with faculty from (then) CPASS to teach leadership to young females through soccer. Those last two trips happened right when I was in the decision-making process, and I think that solidified that I didn’t want to go far and that everything that I needed was at WVU.”

Watson had initially set her sights on medical school and becoming a doctor, likely due in part to her mother, Joanne, a registered nurse who also served as a faculty member and director of the BSN programs at WVU. But she also had an interest in Sport and Exercise Psychology, likely due in part to her father, Jack, a longtime faculty member in Sport and Exercise Psychology who would later serve as the Dean for the College of Physical Activity and Sport Science. She went through her first two years doing all of her medical school prerequisites to keep that option open, but ultimately it was her experience working with the WVU baseball team and coaching staff as a student manager that solidified her career pursuit in SEP.

“I admire the coaching staff here; they have always opened up more opportunities for me if I wanted them,” Watson says. “At first, being a student manager was just something my friends were doing and something to do on the side. After a while, though, it started to fill a void for me because I played softball in high school and went to not playing anything in college. As a student manager, though, I was able to be on the field, throw, catch, and be involved with practice. I think I realized I missed the game more than I thought I did, and I just enjoyed being around it.”

Watson seized the opportunity to learn from a coaching staff that was open and willing to answer questions. The coaches correctly identified her eagerness to learn with her aptitude and abilities and increased her role with the program.

“I grew up playing baseball and softball, so I have always felt like I have a good IQ for the game,” she says. “Even though I understand it for the most part, college is a different level and the coaches have always been open to me asking questions. The more I asked, the more they realized that I had a good knowledge base and that I was perhaps capable of more.

“So, then they put me on the ‘data team,’ and I work with the video coordinator during games and we tag all kinds of data on every pitch and every play and can produce condensed clips to players and the team. Then they needed help with road itineraries and meal arrangements for road trips, so I helped make those arrangements. And that turned into me stocking and ordering everything for our nutrition center at our facility here on campus.”

Her up-close view inside the WVU baseball program provided her with another opportunity in the game of baseball this past summer in the Cape Cod League, a popular off-season baseball league for college players.

“Even though it isn’t exactly what I want to do, I got an internship with the baseball operations team for one of the teams in the Cape Cod League, and I think the only reason I got that internship was because of the experience I was able to gain with the WVU baseball program. But, once I was there, I got to work with the pitching coach breaking down video of how the kinetic chain affects your pitching mechanics.” 

In addition to her work with the baseball team, Watson serves as the SEP Club's vice president and is assisting with research for a Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology doctoral student. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also pursuing an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree, one of the first to go from SEP to Executive Sport Management (MS).

Her learning both in the classroom and out has put her in the best position to accomplish her career goals, no matter where the next step is.

“Graduate school applications opened up recently for most places, and I’ve been doing research on those,” she says. “Ideally, though, my end goal is to work in Major League Baseball. They (MLB) have a program for people who are underrepresented in baseball like people of color and females. I’m leaning towards applying to that and, if I get accepted, doing that for a year. Perhaps that will give me a better perspective on what I really want to do. I know I’m passionate about sport and specifically baseball.”  

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