Logan Irons: You were awarded the Student of the Week based on your consistency, work ethic and broad knowledge of NCAA topics that we have analyzed in depth recently. When and how did you develop such an affinity for college athletics?
Dan Penner: I think my first real experience that created a true love for college athletics was back in 2005 in Chicago during the Elite Eight when Arizona and Illinois met. We headed over to the arena, paid a premium for tickets right behind Lute Olson, and witnessed an Illinois comeback of 15 points in the last four minutes to send it to overtime where they would go on to win. The arena was perhaps the loudest environment I had been in, and the atmosphere was phenomenal.
Chicago was a stop on the trip to Columbus, where I first visited Ohio State. Going on to attend Ohio State will forever feed a love for collegiate athletics. Not only was I a student at OSU, but I was an employee and a member of the athletic department as an Athletic Training student – so my attachment to OSU is large. Being on the fields and courts during that time, and having interactions with coaches and athletes daily only furthered my knowledge and love for college athletics.
LI: We have had the privilege of having some amazing guest speakers from different aspects of the sports and business world. Which speaker had the greatest impact on you?
DP: My favorite guest speaker, and the one with the greatest impact, was hands down Coach Fisher. His stories, his discussion about passion, and his commentary on team culture and teamwork epitomized why I love sports. It made me realize how sport has had such a great impact on me growing up, as well. In addition to these stories, he had applicable recommendations for future MBA graduates. His emphasis on dreaming big, being a good “teammate,” and focusing on what truly makes you happy, while not taking shortcuts or acting unethical, is very applicable to business professionals.
LI: Though you are originally from Canada, you don’t seem too attached to hockey. How did this come about?
DP: Probably the start to this is that I could never really skate. The first time I skated, I was on the ice for about a minute, fell, and smashed my chin open. My older brothers never played, they played football and basketball – so I grew up liking those more. Lastly, hockey absolutely dominates the sport discussion in Canada and it seems all the other sports have to share the leftovers. You can get a little bitter about this. Imagine being in a city, or at a university, where your least favorite sport gets the outright major share of media and public discussion.
LI: Wale tho?
DP: While tho or though is probably correct, I go more by “Wale do.” Wale definitely is one of my favorite rappers, and he says this phrase in numerous songs. This question is not as random as you may expect. I highly recommend Wale’s second album “Ambition.” To me, this album is great for anyone who needs focus, vision, and motivation. I attribute some of the fact that I am in the SDSU SMBA program to the album. It definitely helped me focus on where I wanted to go and wanted to do. Some of the song titles like “Ambition,” “Legendary,” “No Days Off,” and “Focused,” show this at a glance. For future MBA candidates, or business professionals, using this medium or another to reach goals can be greatly beneficial.
LI: You traded in the harsh winters of Ohio and Canada for the mild year-round temperatures of San Diego. What differences have you noticed in the sports scene? Have you taken up any new sports?
DP: Haven’t taken up any new sports, and I am embarrassed at my lack of golfing considering I am living here. What San Diego reminds me of is how much of an advantage athletes have growing up participating further south. Population density is far greater, so less travel and more competition. But the environmental factors are extreme. Outdoor sports are much less affected here, and seasons can be longer. Wind, rain, snow and freezing temperatures negatively affect outdoor sports where I grew up. One should realize the competitive advantages of a southern warm state versus a northern or Midwest state.
LI: What is your dream job and how is this program preparing you to reach that goal?
DP: Ideally I would like to be in team operations of a collegiate or professional team. In relation to the discussion on Coach Fisher, the experience of being a part of a team in this setting is extremely exciting. I want to be an integral member of a sports team pursuing a common goal. Operations is a broad term, but positions can take on many forms and responsibilities – almost all affecting team success. The program gives you a general understanding of numerous sport and business concepts so one can interact with the numerous different individuals a job in team operations requires.
LI: You are very disciplined in your class, workout and studying programs. How did you develop such self discipline?
DP: Growing up on a farm, as well as having a mom as a teacher, definitely contributed. My fairly new passion for working out actually directly helps my academics. Academics to me is similar to exercising. Getting bigger and stronger is like getting smarter and learning new skills. When you have goals and see results, you remain focused on the task at hand and strive to better yourself.
LI: Would you rather attend a BCS National Championship that Ohio State loses or attend a Final Four where the Aztecs win the national championship?
DP: Easy. Aztecs winning. I’ve only witnessed Ohio State football losing the National Championship on TV. The first time was extremely difficult. I was live for the basketball team losing the championship against Florida – again, not fun. I am thankful Ohio State continually fields competitive teams, but if things go smoothly, hopefully we can do it all this year in football.