Katie Bailey wants to get back in the game she loves, as a soccer coach inspiring and encouraging athletes.
Just like an athlete taking the field before the big game, returning to college as an adult learner can bring its fair share of nerves. “I was terrified,” the Sport Studies major said of making the leap. “I had so many doubts and anxieties about how can I balance my work life and my mom life.”
Athletics – and particularly soccer – has played an important role in Bailey’s life from her early years. After graduating from a private Christian school, the Hillcrest resident attended Davis College, where she continued to play the sport. She majored in counseling but found that the more she explored the career path, the less she was interested, she said.
In addition to playing year-round, she stayed involved in the sport in other ways as well, coaching summer and spring leagues, a children’s summer camp and Binghamton University’s recreational team.
In 2010, her priorities shifted after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She dropped out of college, earned her cosmetology license and went to work supporting herself. Five years later, her priorities shifted yet again when she gave birth to her daughter and found that doing hair just wasn’t enough.
“It’s really hard being a single mom and living paycheck to paycheck doing hair,” she explained.
Her daughter inspired her return to higher education, and a better chance at a well-paying career. She also wanted to set a good example and give her daughter experiences that she wasn’t able to have herself while growing up.
Sport Studies proved to be an optimal fit, and an opportunity for Bailey to pursue her calling as a coach – ideally for college or professional-level soccer.
First, she needed to make a true leap of faith, leaving her job to pursue college full-time after the salon that employed her wouldn’t accommodate her class schedule. She found her SUNY Broome professors to be “professional, supportive and encouraging” and the classes interested her – including one she didn’t expect: statistics.
Bailey struggled with math in high school and greeted the prospect of a college-level math class with dread. “Professor Tom Reid was outstanding. I got a B; I was almost in tears,” Katie recalled. “He was an amazing teacher.”
Other inspiring courses included Professor Sandy Alter-Ballard’s class in Fitness & Wellness, which taught different ways to improve health and lifestyle, and Professor Robert Krowiak’s Adventure Activities.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Katie said of her SUNY Broome experience. “Davis is tiny and you’re limited in what you can take. I’m so impressed with Broome’s variety.”
While she took a few online courses, Bailey prefers hands-on learning and found ample opportunity to take classes on campus, even working her schedule around what’s best for her daughter. She looks forward to graduating in May 2018 and transferring to SUNY Cortland for a bachelor’s degree in coaching – and a future with a career she’ll love.