Athletes all over the world are celebrated for their skills, strength, and endurance and, after studying sports for years, Assistant Professor Barbara Vano appreciates how they bring people together. She recalls an extraordinary moment during a New York City marathon when a participant fell yet finished the race, thanks to two other runners who helped him cross the finish line.
“Sports have become global, and it allows athletes to develop camaraderie and sportsmanship,” says Barbara, who has served on the faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas College for four decades. Every day, you see people helping each other to succeed.”
Barbara was originally hired as STAC’s Coordinator for Women’s Athletics and was charged with developing the college’s women’s athletic program in the 1970s. “I represented STAC on the conference and district levels and was very proud of our program and student-athletes,” she says. Barbara has made many other contributions to STAC over the years, including successfully registering the college for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Today, as an assistant professor of sport management studies at the School of Business, Barbara teaches several courses, including Foundations of Recreation and Sport, Sport Management, and Managing an Athletic Event. She also serves as an advisor for the Sport Management Club and helps bring in guest speakers, such as sport management professionals, team owners, and entrepreneurs. She encourages student members to take charge in organizing field trips and events, believing that students “learn by doing” and should build confidence to prepare for their future careers.
“Students need to be allowed to think for themselves, and to do what they need to develop confidence in their ability and learn how to make decisions,” she says. “They also need to learn how to correct mistakes they make and try to prevent them before they happen.
Barbara’s own accomplishments as a student-athlete live on to this day. This June, she will be inducted into the Adelphi University Hall of Fame, her alma mater, for her contribution to the undefeated field hockey team from 1965 through 1971. There, she completed both a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a master’s in Health Education.
She is a recipient of STAC’s Spartan Award, a distinction given to members of the college’s community who uphold Spartan values and exemplify excellence. Barbara also stays involved as a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), which provides professional development and promotes research related to physical education, physical activity, dance, and sports.
Having a long and accomplished career has brought many opportunities in Barbara’s way, and she is grateful for everyone she has met in the sports world and during her many years at STAC.
“My career path brought me in contact with many super people, from the students, faculty, and staff here at the college, to the people I met through my association with sports,” she says.
Barbara is a member of both New York State Parks and Recreation and Parks and Trails of New York and enjoys spending time outdoors. She grew up in Queens and now lives on Long Island where she enjoys sightseeing, visiting the beach, fishing, gardening, and spending time with her family.