Over a year ago, ELPA partnered with ISDE Law & Business School, with the aim to provide its members an opportunity to study and obtain Master’s Degree alongside their basketball careers. Last season, with the help of ELPA, four players were enrolled into the program and started to pursue their academic degrees through ISDE’s Global Master in Sports Management course.
ELPA’s President Tornike Shengelia was one of them. After more than twelve months of dedicated studies, he became ELPA’s first graduate in the program, right after the end of the last season. He gladly remembers his studies during the past year.
“It was a great feeling to see the diploma in my hand. I was very proud of myself. What I have accomplished means a great deal to me, but it also makes me want to achieve even more”, Shengelia said right after personally picking up his diploma in Barcelona in July.
Last season was a challenging one for Shengelia. He moved his family from Moscow to Bologna mid-season, started playing on a new team and won the EuroCup. Still, he was able to perform academically without impacting his consistency on the court: “It is a question of properly managing your time. That is the major part of the process. I mostly used my travel time between games to study, or I split my free time at home between my family and the program.”
Shengelia or Toko, as most people call him, says that habits he obtained from playing basketball at the highest level helped him get through difficult moments during the studies: “Dropping out of the program crossed my mind, but my competitive spirit kicked in whenever I would feel that way. That would give me an extra boost of energy to finish what I’ve started.”
In a single season he accomplished two goals at the same time – he became a champion and a master’s degree graduate. This is yet another example that top professional basketball players can do more than just play the game.
Due to a painful shoulder injury, which kept Shengelia off the basketball court at the start of the season, he is now back in the lineup for Virtus Bologna. He knows how injuries can change athlete’s perspective in a split second and wishes more players would look ahead to the future and life after basketball. “I encourage other players to think beyond the game. Ask yourself what interests you, set yourself a realistic academic goal and go for it. Once your career ends, you will have a degree in your pocket and nothing will stop you from being just as successful in your next career after basketball”, added Shengelia.
Shengelia’s goal chasing and his on and off the court motivation are traits of a modern athlete. “The learnings I obtained during my studies will help me beyond the court. I realize now that it is never too late to learn something valuable that can help me transition into a new career, when the time comes”, concluded Shengelia.
ELPA is already working on providing new opportunities for players who wish to pursue their academic degrees while playing basketball at the highest level and will notify its members about enrollment dates in due course.