Educating the Next Generation of Sport Performance Analysts

March 10, 2021


From the first moment they begin taking classes at St. John’s University, students studying in the Division of Sport Management at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies hear a recurring message about the importance of networking with those currently working in the sport industry in order to open doors for future opportunities. Taking advantage of every opportunity and gaining hands-on learning experience are also emphasized. However, in some areas of the sport industry, including performance analysis, networking and gaining hands-on experience are much more challenging.

Since 2015, when the New York City Football Club (NYCFC) played its first game at Yankee Stadium, the St. John’s University Athletics Department and the club have established and developed a close relationship. During the last few years, many of NYCFC’s youth development teams have used the University’s Queens, NY, campus facilities for training; standout St. John’s University student-athletes such as Chris Wingert and Danny Bedoya have donned the NYCFC jersey; and numerous students have interned and worked for NYCFC.

As a result of years of collaboration, when NYCFC began the process of helping to educate the next generation of sport performance analysts, they turned to St. John’s. On February 15, students enrolled in the Sports Analytics class taught by David P. Hedlund, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Division of Sport Management, had the opportunity to hear from Daniel Fradley, Head of Performance Analysis at NYCFC.

“We are always happy to welcome personnel from our local hometown sport franchises to talk to our students and tell them about the roles they play within their organization—all while facilitating networking opportunities for students,” said Dr. Hedlund. “It is really exciting and admittedly nostalgic to be able to introduce Dan to our students. It’s really an exceptional opportunity for them to learn about what he does to support the entire NYCFC organization.” 

Mr. Fradley spoke to the students about how NYCFC performance analysts work on tasks related to player development, player acquisition, and coaching development. Using multiple examples from player, team, and coaching activities, in concert with performance tracking performed at multiple levels, he helped students understand how he and his colleagues analyze the entire team, individual players, and even opponents. Using hands-on activities, Mr. Fradley involved the students in video analysis and data analytics. The session culminated with sharing stories and answering questions about how analysts’ work positively affects the team and its performance. John Diffley, Deputy Athletics Director, noted “It was exciting to see NYCFC in the classroom helping our students.  Dan provided valuable insight with an impressive sports performance and data analytics session.”

“Anytime we can work with local sport teams and organizations to help educate and prepare our students for opportunities and careers, everyone benefits,” Dr. Hedlund said. “We look forward to finding more ways for our students to utilize their St. John’s education and leverage what they have learned in the classroom in real-life situations, as we help open doors for them to connect with sport organizations.”