Feb. 5, 2013
- Written by Sarabeth Pollock
There's an old adage that says "it takes a village." With college athletics, there is nothing more fitting. From coaches to strength trainers, athletic trainers to administration, student athletes have a huge support network behind them. One of the critical pieces in this support network is academics, and so this month USD Athletics is proud to spotlight Ron Valenzuela, Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Services.
In Ron's five years in the department, he has taken on a variety of roles. In his role as academic counselor, he works with USD Football, Baseball, Men's and Women's Soccer, and Women's Tennis. He also oversees the career development program, which includes the flagship career event, Torero Networking Night. Ron is also responsible for coordinating numerous community service events throughout the school year, such as the MLK Parade and Light the Night events.
Ron has a long history at USD, dating back eleven years when he worked in Student Financial Services. There he was responsible for managing deposits made to the university. Working with money and numbers made him realize how much he missed working directly with people. Once he became a full time staff member, he applied to the Career and Adult Development Master's Program offered through the School of Education's counseling program. He switched jobs and became a coordinator in USD's Career Services office. Eventually, in 2008, a position opened in Athletics and Ron was able to transfer his skill set to working with student athletes.
When asked about an average day on the job, Ron remarked that he has to "prepare for the unexpected." There's no way to stick to a schedule because you never know what kind of issues a student athlete might come in with. The day, then, revolves around guiding student athletes on their journey toward graduation. Personal development is key in this process. When he isn't working directly with student athletes, Ron is busy checking email, making calls, working on community service initiatives, and talking to employers who inquire about USD's fantastic student athletes.
Ron had no trouble talking about his favorite Torero memories. In no particular order, he lists:
Women's Soccer's 3-2 victory over UCLA to advance to the Sweet 16
Football's back-to-back PFL championships
USD Tennis's amazing success at the WCC Tennis Championships in 2012 when Coach Sherri Stephens led her team to her first WCC title ever
Men's Soccer's awe inspiring WCC Championship win in 2012 that was followed by a comeback victory against Cal State Northridge and was capped off with a trip to the Elite 8
Baseball's impressive 10 players taken in the 2010 MLB Draft
When it comes to working at USD, Ron enjoys working in Athletics because of the competition, the drive, and the camaraderie he feels with the people around him. Here, he said, you "can still experience the highs and lows of winning and losing." He enjoys working with people who are driven toward success and who work together to make USD Athletics the best it can be.
Looking ahead to the future, Ron is already mindful that graduation is fast approaching. It's his favorite event because he gets to see student athletes fulfill their goal of graduating college. This year will mark the graduation of his second class of student athletes (those entering college in Fall 2009). He also enjoys working with juniors and seniors prior to Torero Networking Night as they prepare for job interviews and internship opportunities. 2013 is also a very special year on a personal level because Ron recently proposed to childhood friend Amy Husted. The happy couple plans to marry in October of this year.