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Scholarship winner turning love of sports into a career

Katie Emmons
February 11, 2020

Sports isn’t just a hobby for Alex Martini, a second-year sport industry major from Cincinnati. Even before he started studying at Ohio State, he knew the only career path he wanted must involve sports.

“That's pretty much the only thing I could see myself doing every day. I don’t get bored with it,” Martini said.

Martini grew up watching Buckeye football, but his tour of campus — seeing the ’Shoe, walking the Oval, getting a glimpse of state-of-the-art facilities at the Physical Activity and Educational Services building — sealed his choice.

He likes events, the sporting kind, so he’s exploring being an athletic director or an event manager for a stadium or sports team.

Making the most of student life at Ohio State

To get there, he’s majoring in sport industry and has packed four extracurriculars into his schedule. In his first year, he joined the Michael J. Dunn Sport and Wellness Scholars, a group he discovered when he applied to Ohio State. The program helps students develop leadership skills and form relationships with industry professionals and each other — invaluable training for a would-be manager.

“I saw ‘sports and wellness’ and I was like, ‘This will be perfect,’” Martini said.

This year, he joined Second Year Transformational Experience and was accepted into the Sesquicentennial Student Scholar Leadership Program. He also works for Ohio State’s Recreational Sports as an ambassador.

As if that weren’t enough, Martini also co-founded Ohio State’s Fantasy Football Club with two Dunn Scholars — the program requires students to join a club or start one.

“Last year, we went to a couple sports analytics meetings. And we all really like fantasy football. We looked for a club. We thought there would be one, but there wasn't,” Martini said. They did what enterprising Buckeyes do: They started one that begins this semester.

Martini and his co-founders wrote articles for the club’s website, with updates about weekly rankings and advice for people running their own fantasy teams.

In his job for Recreational Sports, Martini promotes university facilities and events, including Adventure Recreation Center Night and Jesse Owens North’s After 10 at JON. The latter event included guided “calming” tutorials by the Painting with Bob Ross student organization, chair massages and raffle giveaways.

“It was a de-stressing event during midterms,” Martini said.

Developing leadership skills

Martini values leadership qualities — it’s one reason he applied to be a Sesquicentennial Scholar, which offers seminars on the subject.

J.R. Rathjens, Martini’s mentor and the associate director of Recreational Sports, says it’s clear why Martini was chosen for the scholarship program.

“I view him as a student who's got a lot of leadership abilities. The funny thing about Alex is I don't even think he realizes that's in his wheelhouse right now,” Rathjens said.

He’s a good listener, Rathjens said, and he’s personable if a bit reticent.

“Sometimes when folks are quiet, when they speak, not everybody listens to them,” he said. “But everybody really does tune in to what (Alex) has to say.”

“I think he also has a level of maturity and responsibility, too, because he's already trying to make moves for his career (and) internships, and he's thinking about it a lot earlier than other students.”

Rathjens sees Martini’s growth since he started at Ohio State. “You can see the light starting to go on a little bit more as he takes on more roles and responsibilities, and he's talking to other students, mentoring younger students,” Rathjens said.

“He definitely has the tool kit. I think he's really starting to kind of grow into it, especially (in his) second year.”

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