Passing it On

Ashley Blake, MASAA Alumna, wearing a blue shirt with white background

March 11, 2024
Jenna Turner | Gonzaga Graduate Programs
CEO was not Ashley Blake’s career plan when she started Gonzaga’s Master’s in Sport and Athletic Administration program. She actually wanted to become a collegiate athletic director, but something changed after she interned with Spokane Sports, a non-profit organization that advocates for sports development and sporting events in Spokane.

During her first internship working with North Idaho College to host the NJCAA Wresting Championships, Blake had exposure to every element of planning and executing a major sports event–from sports medicine, to transportation, hotels, equipment sourcing, and facility layouts. It was there she connected with Spokane Sports and thanks to a second internship, she has never looked back.

During her career she has tackled logistics, event research, rights holder negotiations and now the C-suite. She credits the MASAA program for exposing her to multiple pathways to success in the sport industry.

“The most valuable takeaway from the master program is the community built. Being a student, you have the opportunity to trial a number of career paths through volunteer and internships opportunities. It’s an incredible platform to gain exposure to various sports entities. It’s a very formative and relevant time for career development,” said Blake.

The courses in MASAA provided Blake with knowledge that has benefited her throughout her career. One she has found surprisingly relevant was a Sports Statistic class.

“It was not a topic on my radar, but it is critical. A lot of my role now correlates to metrics, KPI’s, return on investment, and the communication of what value the organization is bringing to the table. This was a topic that was reinforced in that class,” said Blake.

After graduating, Blake has remained connected to the MASAA program, serving on Gonzaga’s School of Education Advisory Board, teaching courses as an adjunct and providing opportunities for current students.

“We have a really robust internship program and I bet at least half of them are from Gonzaga. In addition, there are some special initiatives and projects that I’m tapping into professors and students to tackle,” said Blake.

Blake recently collaborated with Dr. Ryan Turcott on a Sport Diplomacy Program where MASAA students spent time touring local facilities and networking with youth baseball coaches and players from Ecuador who visited Spokane.

Blake believes anyone interested in a career in sport will find the MASAA program valuable.

“It’s just a tremendous opportunity to differentiate yourself. The world of sports administration is highly competitive and it’s important that you get a leg up. You’re given an opportunity to really lean into that and give it your full effort.”