February 23, 2023

Faculty Member Huddles Up with UMD Women’s Basketball Team

Faculty Member Huddles Up with UMD Women’s Basketball Team
Courtesy of Roy Rozin

For student-athletes, success on the court starts with success in the classroom, and that means professors are an integral part of the game plan.

Rellie Derfler-Rozin, associate professor of management and organization and academic director of the Master of Science in Management Studies at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business spent a day with the UMD women’s basketball team as part of Maryland Athletics’ guest coaching program.

Nominated by her master’s student and women’s basketball team member Abby Meyers, Derfler-Rozin joined the team as it took down the No.13 ranked Michigan Wolverines 72-64.

Derfler-Rozin convened with the team for lunch, observed pregame activities and was invited into the locker room to listen in on head coach Brenda Frese’s pregame speech. She also received a tour of the UMD athletic facilities and met with athletic advisors to get a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of UMD student-athletes.

“It was very inspiring to see these student-athletes in their element and my deep appreciation for how they juggle their academic and athletic responsibilities only grew larger after experiencing it firsthand,” says Derfler-Rozin.  

When asked to nominate a professor, Meyers says Derfler-Rozin was the first professor who came to mind. The investment she makes toward the success of her students in the classroom, as well as in their current and future endeavors outside of the classroom, made it an easy choice.

“I was honored to invite her into my world of collegiate basketball and show her some of the wonderful things I do on a daily basis in preparation for big games,” says Meyers.

Reflecting on the experience and personally seeing how a historically successful basketball program operates, Derfler-Rozin says there are plenty of parallels that can be drawn between sports and business. Making in-game adjustments and adaptations based on data and observations, for example, is in line with the data-driven decision-making class that is part of the curriculum of the Master of Management Studies Program.

Then there’s also the notion of work ethic and ethical behavior, she says.

“As someone who teaches ethics, there’s a big lesson in saying that at the end of the day, we are here to have fun, compete, play clean and enjoy the spirit of the game,” says Derfler-Rozin. “There’s a positive spillover of that as these student-athletes excel in their studies and show how much they care with how they remain engaged in the classroom.”

During the game, Derfler-Rozin was brought courtside and awarded a commemorative game ball. Until the final buzzer, she took pride in watching Meyers – who is also “a star in the classroom” – contribute to the team’s success.

“I was very honored to have this recognition,” says Derfler-Rozin. “Seeing the amount of preparation and effort put forward was a humbling experience. It also filled me with pride to be the academic director of a program that draws on a lot of student-athletes as well.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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