Engaged Wedar has lofty goals

MINOT, N.D. – Sophie Wedar would eventually like to work in the NBA.

While she grew up with a physical therapist father and has always been interested in the profession, it was a chance encounter with the Miami Heat’s assistant athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation that cemented her choice.

“I am a huge Dwyane Wade fan and my senior year of high school he was retiring. My parents got me tickets to his last game in Minnesota,” she said. “We were a couple rows up from the Miami Heat bench. I made a sign hoping to get DWade's attention, but instead caught the attention of Brandon Gilliam, one of Miami's athletic trainers/physical therapists. At halftime, Brandon came up to me and talked to me. He told me that he showed DWade my sign and said he could see what he could do to bring me to the back to meet him after the game.

“Brandon found me after the game and said he didn't have enough time to bring me to the back because they had to get on the road right away for the next night's game. However, he still brought me over to the entrance of the tunnel to get my jersey signed by DWade. Brandon gave me his business card and we've kept in touch since. He didn't know I was thinking about going into the field of sports medicine or anything, but I was very surprised how he went out of his way to help. His advice over the last few years has helped solidify that this is the right career for me."

It wasn’t always so cut and dried as a career choice as was her choice to go to Minot State. After her senior year, she was still debating between MSU and the University of North Dakota, her parents’ alma mater, and didn’t have her future plans narrowed down past the medical field.

Fate intervened again as she was recruited by then MSU head women’s basketball coach Mark Graupe late in the recruiting process.

“I was very sad at the end of my senior basketball season and when he reached out, I automatically knew that was something I wanted to do,” she said of the offer to play basketball. “I’m certainly glad I did. I met lifelong friends at MSU and was very fortunate to be a part of the athletic community.”

She decided to finish her collegiate basketball career after accepting a job at Trinity Health following her practicum.

“I came into school as a freshman with a biology premed thinking maybe orthopedic surgery,” Wedar said. “My sophomore year, I got interested in the exercise science program and, because of my dad and my own experiences with athletic trainers, decided on physical therapy.

“I did practicum hours last summer at the outpatient clinic at Trinity and got a job offer after it was finished. I love basketball, but it came down to playing basketball now or looking to the future. Getting to work there is very beneficial because it will look good on my grad application.”

Wedar also changed from her premed biology tract to exercise science and rehabilitation, a new program at Minot State. Any anxiety due to the new program was quickly quelled with her familiarity and relationships with faculty.

“My dad has known Beth (Beth Marschner, assistant professor, teacher education and kinesiology) for a fairly long time and even before I started with the program, she was someone I reached out to and asked questions,” she said. “Beth has been huge for me my four years here. Having professors like Heather Golly ’96, Terry Eckmann ’81/’82, and Kelsey Higginson have also been very helpful for me. I’ve been comfortable with asking all of them questions about the program.”

She believes the difference between MSU and university’s programs boil down to two main factors.

“A lot of schools have exercise science, but ours is exercise science and rehabilitation. That was important for me,” Wedar said. “You get so much hands on experience here. I really love the community in the department. The professors have been unbelievable, and I know I can learn a lot from them.”

Along with her work in the department, Wedar has embraced activities outside of the classroom as well, earning the Student Leadership and Engagement Award in 2023.

“I did the Looyenga Leadership Center’s Emerging Leadership program with Jim (Jim Sturm, Looyenga Leadership Center director) last year and he is incredible and helped me see how I can get involved in leadership. It was an awesome experience,” she said. “In high school, my parents wanted me to get involved and now in college, I understand that it really looks good on a resume or an application to PT school. It just adds so many parts to who you are and what you can bring to the table.”

Wedar will finalize her next educational step in the fall, hoping to follow in her parents’ footsteps at UND, and, after some practical experience, has her eyes set on working with professional athletes.

“I know I will have to start somewhere and get that experience,” she said. “Ultimately, I’d like to work with athletes, especially professional athletes. You don’t see a lot of women in professional sports, so I’d love to get my foot in the door and expand the field of sports medicine for women at the professional level.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/25/23   

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