The Team Behind the Team: Academic Success Program
Sara Rechnitzer

Oct. 4, 2013

During each week of competition throughout the cross country season, we will highlight a member of our support staff that helps the Wolverines succeed on and off the course!

Meet academic counselor Sara Rechnitzer:

Describe your academic and professional career path and how you ultimately ended up at Michigan?
I was a Division III student-athlete at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Va., where I played point guard for the basketball team. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to stay involved with college athletics, so I took a job working for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) as an Assistant to the Commissions/Director of Championships. This was a two-year commitment which was a part of the NCAA Division III Ethnic Minority and Women's Internship Grant Program. I wore a lot of hats in this position and my day-to-day responsibilities included planning and managing ODAC and NCAA championships, assisting with sports information, managing payments for our sport officials, and working with the conference's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Being a part of an NCAA internship program, I was also able to attend professional development opportunities through the NCAA and other organizations. For these two years, I had the opportunity to really learn the ins and outs associated with a career in college athletics and upon the completion of my ODAC internship, I decided to get my master's in higher education administration from the University of Michigan. While pursuing my mater's I worked as an academic mentor in the Academic Success Program here at Michigan, which is where I discovered I wanted to pursue a career in athletic academic counseling. After my master's was complete, I worked on campus for a year in an academic unit before being given the opportunity to return to the Academic Success Program as an academic counselor for men's cross country/track & field, baseball, and men's & women's golf.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being an academic counselor at Michigan allows me to be a part of athletic teams that are constantly striving to be the leaders and best. I get to work with student-athletes who are as serious about being the leaders and best in the classroom as they are in athletic practice and competition. I enjoy developing meaningful relationships with student-athletes where I get to serve as their academic coach and provide resources for them to be successful in the classroom, to graduate from the University of Michigan, and to plan for their futures.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
The biggest challenge for me is staying balanced during the academic year. Everyone in the athletic department works long and hard hours, including the student-athletes. In addition to my job responsibilities during the daytime, I am also here in the evenings several nights a week and sometimes on Sundays to work with students during study table. Sometimes my students ask if I ever leave the Academic Center! Despite sometimes having difficulty finding balance, I am lucky that I get to do work that I enjoy and find meaningful!

What makes working for Michigan Athletics special?
For my job specifically, Michigan Athletics is special because I get to work with some of the best student-athletes in the country who want to compete at the highest level in the classroom and in their sport. We are fortunate to be able to provide top-notch resources and facilities that enable our student-athletes to perform at the highest levels because of the rich tradition and history that surrounds Michigan Athletics. The people associated with Michigan Athletics are what make this place truly special. On a daily basis, I feel a part of something larger than myself and that my work has impact.

What do you tell prospective student-athletes about the quality of academic resources/facilities Michigan provides?
I am always sharing with prospective student-athletes and their families that from an academic perspective, the University of Michigan is always ranked among the best in the world, offers over 200 degree programs, and has a living alumni base of more than 500,000. All of this equals an undergraduate degree that means something out in the professional world. From an academic support perspective, the Ross Academic Center speaks for itself. We have a beautiful and versatile facility that serves as an academic hub for our student-athletes located right here on the athletic campus.

What do you enjoy doing away from work?
Some of my favorite things to do outside of the Ross Academic Center are mountain biking, playing ultimate frisbee, playing basketball, attending Michigan sporting events, and spending time with my friends and my partner, Daniel.

• Past Entry: Volunteer Assistant Dusty Lopez

Contact: Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423