Born into a hockey family outside of Chicago in Lombard, Illinois, Bill Sweatt’s dream was to play professionally. In 2010, after signing a contract with the Vancouver Canuck’s organization, he not only accomplished his goal but also was able to play with his older brother, Lee. He eventually played in the National Hockey League for Vancouver and his hometown Chicago Wolves, a minor league team. Throughout his hockey career though, he was also working toward another goal – completing his MBA degree online at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“My parents taught me school is equally as important as athletics,” Sweatt said. “I heeded their consistent warning that hockey cannot last forever and someday I would have to find a job. After I turned pro, I decided to take a year off from school. The following summer, I studied for and passed the GMAT exam and decided to earn my MBA,” he said.
Sweatt has found the UNL online MBA program to be the perfect complement to his hockey lifestyle.
“Playing professional hockey is demanding for a couple of hours each day, but there is a lot of free time too. I used to think I was too busy but I fought through that negativity. I have chosen to take one class at a time and found it to be no problem,” he said.
He currently plays professional hockey in Sweden’s top tier league for the Brynäs IF team, which makes the flexibility of UNL’s MBA program even more important.
“My biggest thing is being able to work ahead and some classes are setup so it is easy to do. I had classes where the teacher laid out all the course documents and syllabus and said, ‘This is what needs to be done in eight weeks. Have at it.’ Those are the classes that are easiest for me with my lifestyle.”
Regardless where Sweatt has moved to play hockey, the ability to work on the degree at his own pace and schedule has been helpful.
“Practice days are where I have the most time. I get to the rink at about 8:30 a.m. and go through a workout that takes about an hour. Then we get dressed to practice on the ice. Early in the season, practices run at least an hour and then I work on personal things after practice. I get home around 2:00 p.m. and the rest of the day is mine,” he said.
Sweatt, who played collegiately at Colorado College and also won a gold medal as part of the United States U-18 team at the world championships, is planning on taking the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams to go along with his MBA degree.
“I am going to take the first of three CFA tests next June. To study for them, I am going to hold off on taking my final two MBA classes until I complete the first CFA exam,” said Sweatt who plans to graduate in the fall of 2016.
Dr. Richard DeFusco, professor of finance and director of the MBA program said, “Our online MBA students have varied professional backgrounds though Bill is our first professional hockey player. The quality and flexibility of our UNL MBA program makes it a first choice for many students. I’m glad we are able to help Bill with his professional goal of working in finance after he retires from hockey.”