Wilkes University senior Luke Modrovsky’s life-long love of sports is leading to a career. The communication studies and sports management dual major’s eight years of officiating at sports events has given him the upper-hand. It’s also helped him win an internship with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).
Modrovsky started officiating games at 13, umpiring Little League baseball in his hometown of Mountain Top, Pa. Following in his dad’s footsteps, who also is a PIAA-certified basketball official, Modrovsky added softball, volleyball, football, baseball and volleyball to his repertoire. As a five-sport PIAA official, he’s the youngest in most of his chapters.
PIAA is a non-profit, governing body for almost all public junior high/middle and senior high schools, some charter and private junior high/middle schools, and many charter and private senior high schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its main function is to develop and enforce rules regulating interscholastic athletic competition.
In his internship, he is working to figure out an important issue: Why is there a shortage of officials? Modrovsky will be working closely with the START Program (Students of Today are Referees of Tomorrow), which provides classes to help people pass the PIAA tests to become certified.
“You still get to be a part of the game and really give back to student athletes.”
He’s also diving into the world of business and sports law, learning about the inner workings of PIAA. Learning the difference between student athlete and professional is a huge part of being a sports administrator, something Modrovsky is learning about through his sports management courses. What he’s finding, regardless of the path he takes, is that he needs to understand it all. “Even if you’re an athletic director you still need to know the legal ramification of things,” he says, citing an example of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, which ensures individuals’ medical information is kept confidential. “If the media comes to you and says, ‘hey will this player play tonight’ or ‘what’s the injury’ you have to be careful with what you say because you could break the law,” he explains.
Modrovsky was a high school athlete himself playing baseball, basketball, golf, wrestling, track and field and tennis. Now as an official, he says, “You still get to be a part of the game and really give back to student athletes.”
Giving back to the community has been a big priority for Modrovsky, who serves as the organizer of Crestwood Hoops for Hope. Hoops for Hope is a charity basketball mini-tournament which raises funds for the American Cancer Society. The cause has a personal significance for Modrovsky who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, at eight weeks old. The game in March was the 10th year for the event.
With all his experience, he’s positioned to score a career. “Now that I have this experience as an athlete in six different sports; that’s great when it comes to being at an administrative level.” It was a definite advantage as his knowledge was put to the test during his first week as an intern at the PIAA Team Tennis Championships in Hershey, Pa.
Modrovsky’s up for the challenge, combining his classroom skills in sports management with his communication studies courses. “Officiating is what I love and the reason why I picked up the communication studies major was to become a better a better communicator,” he says. “When someone’s screaming at you, at a play that you might have just missed, you need to find a way to talk.” Modrovsky added that the sports world is changing too, and communications is helping him keep up. “Broadcast is providing the game from the perspective of an official. So if they have a play under review, the rules guru will come in and say, ‘here’s what we have here. ’ ”
To ensure he’s learning all he can, Modrovsky has taken on numerous leadership roles at the University, serving as the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Beacon. He’s also the director of the TV studio, Wilkes Now! Tying in his love of sports, he serves as the sports director of the campus radio station, 90.7 WCLH and serves as the Sports Management Club president. In addition to his sports, experience, Modrovsky recently worked with Etruscan Press author Aaron Poochigian to produce an audiobook for audible.com. He says the experience helped him learn more technical skills that he can carry into whatever field he selects.
With his future goals set for becoming a professional league or Division I official, his ultimate goal is to become the coordinator of officials. Modrovsky already is doing the job by coordinating for seven different leagues at the youth level—experience that he hopes is setting him up for a slam dunk in achieving that goal.