Redefining the Classroom

Exercise science student finds internship nirvana

Posted: February 15th, 2013

APPLIED EXERCISE SCIENCE – Lake Superior State University exercise science senior Maria Blazejewski helps tune fellow student Mike Goetz's workout in LSSU's exercise physiology lab. Blazejewski spent last summer at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas helping to train the school's NCAA Division I teams, Team USA Olympic basketball, and NBA players and draft-picks. Blazejewski is from Beulah, just west of Traverse City in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -– Las Vegas has been very good to Lake Superior State University exercise science senior and woman's basketball center Maria Blazejewski. A three-month internship with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas last summer saw her work with the school's Division I programs and cross paths with pro players prepping for the NBA and London Olympics.

"I kind of went out on a whim to apply for this internship," said Blazejewski, from Beulah, Mich. "My sister has been living in Las Vegas for about four years. We both thought how great it would be if I could get a strength and conditioning internship in Vegas over the summer. Not too long after the application process I was offered the invitation to intern!"

LSSU's exercise science program leverages relationships with regional Michigan and Ontario organizations and businesses to place students into real-world settings under the supervision of a trained professional. Exercise science students themselves offer numerous, low-cost services to the community, including personal training, exercise testing, nutritional and health assessments, and group exercise. They help manage and operate the university's Worksite Wellness program under the supervision of Jody Susi, assistant professor of exercise science and LSSU worksite wellness coordinator.

"During the summer months, we encourage students to travel anywhere to build on their experience," said Susi, who is Blazejewski's academic advisor. "We can help them locate exciting and exceptional opportunities and provide professional references. This is exactly what Maria did with UNLV."

Blazejewski began her summer by helping with the conditioning and resistance training of UNLV’s Division I programs, which included the Runnin' Rebels basketball, track, cross country, swimming, diving, and volleyball teams. She was introduced as an assistant to the head strength coach.

She also got to see, firsthand, several NBA events held on the UNLV campus.

When the USA Men’s Basketball team practiced for their Olympic opener against the Dominican Republic, she was granted sideline access to the Mendenhall Center practice courts to see some of the world’s best basketball athletes train with world-renowned “Coach K” - Mike Krzyzweski, head coach of Men’s Basketball at Duke University. Blazejewski was also in the weight room when New York Knicks stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler worked with their strength coach. Andre Iguodala of the Denver Nuggets took time to come over and compare conditioning notes with Blazejewski.

The NBA summer league also brought in draft picks, veterans, and potential players from 23 NBA teams. Not only was Blazejewski at many of the games, she also observed and advised the athletes in the weight room. She was introduced as “Coach Maria” when assisting the Portland Trailblazers with resistance training circuits. She conducted her own workout schedule with many of them, including with Lamar Odom, who recently signed with the L.A. Clippers.

"I was so impressed with the players, coaches, and strength coaches who utilized the weight room," said Blazejewski. "Many of them took the time to meet me and speak with me as the camp progressed. Assisting the head strength coach of the Portland Trailblazers during a resistance training session was awesome!"

Run a Web search on "LSSU exercise science" to read more about the program. For the latest on upcoming internships and field placement opportunities, e-mail Jody Susi at or Mark Walton, assistant professor of exercise science, at


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Prof. Jody Susi, Exercise Science, e-mail, 635-2624.