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Passion for Sport: Marlene Link Dixon's Story

Passion for Sport: Marlene Link Dixon's Story

Marlene Link Dixon ‘93 is a professor, sport management scholar, administrator, world traveler, life skills mentor, coach, as well as being a wife and mom.

Dixon is a professor and chair of graduate studies in the health and kinesiology department at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Within the department, she teaches and conducts research in the area of sport management. Prior to heading to Aggieland, Dixon was an associate professor in sport management at the University of Texas at Austin. 

The multi-talented Dixon played Tiger basketball for four years and volleyball for two. After graduating with a double-major in biology and sociology, Dixon returned to Trinity to become an assistant for women’s basketball, under the direction of her former coach, Becky Geyer.

Dixon earned a Master of Education degree in sport management from the University of Texas, and also was a volleyball and basketball assistant coach at Southwestern (TX) University. She then received a doctoral degree in sport management from The Ohio State University.

Originally, Dixon planned to major in chemistry during her undergraduate years at Trinity. However, Dixon discovered she enjoyed dealing with the “whole person.”

“In biology, I was, and continue to be fascinated by human performance. In sociology, I gained an appreciation for humans in contexts. Both of these influenced my desire to go into academia, and in the area of sport management," said Dixon.

“I was supported by amazing professors like Dr. John Burke and Dr. Sheryl Tynes, who took the time to know students as whole people. They helped athletes navigate the rigors of trying to be successful at sport and academics. Dr. Tynes encouraged me to think about teaching and research as a profession.”

Dixon has authored and co-authored many scholarly articles in the complex study of sport management. Among her diverse topics are women and sport participation, youth sport development in global contexts, and the work-life interface in sports.

“Mostly what I do is study how and why people do, and don’t thrive in a sport context, and how to create more thriving contexts for women and girls in sport,” Dixon said.

Dixon has been honored for her scholarship by the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) with the Earle F. Zeigler Award. Ziegler, who lived from 1919-2018, was one of the founders of modern American sport studies. Dixon will present a lecture associated with the award at the NASSM Annual Conference in May 2020 at San Diego, California.

Closer to home, Dixon will participate in a Trinity event April 4. Organized by Jacob Tingle ‘95, Trinity’s Director of the Office of Experiential Learning, the event will celebrate the University’s sport management minor’s 10th anniversary. Dixon and other Trinity alumni have been invited to speak about their experiences as students.

Dixon has some advice for students who want to enter a sport profession: “Learn how to communicate effectively, be persistent in gaining practical experience as soon as you can, and solve something.”

“The sport industry is full of young people who have impressive credentials,” Dixon added. “You can set yourself apart by having an idea to solve something, on the field, in operations, and on game-day for the organization. Learn to watch for situations that are taken for granted, and question why they are done that way.”

Over the past several years, Dixon’s passions have centered on youth sport development in global areas. Dixon currently works with the Highway of Hope Basketball Program. Located in Kenya, the program is aimed at developing basketball and life skills for high school girls. The project started three years ago at one high school and has now expanded to four. The hope is to expand to 16 schools and develop a parallel program for boys. Dixon and Geyer recently traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, and worked with young players in a school. Funds were also donated for a new basketball court, and crowds came to cheer on the youngsters.

Dixon’s husband, Stuart, is an assistant boys basketball coach at College Station High School. The couple has two sons, Justin and Cody, and a daughter, Avery.

Dixon may be reached at madixon@tamu.edu.