Goal oriented: Former Blazer Soccer player goes from Finnish league to finishing his degree

Kevin Sawchak left school early to turn pro; now he's completed his degree with the UAB Finish program.
Written by: Matt Windsor
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

mix goal oriented main 550“I realized I wasn’t going to play soccer forever.”

Kevin Sawchak was standing on a soccer field in Finland when he came to that conclusion a few years ago. Today, he’s getting ready to graduate from UAB with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which he earned through the UAB Finish online program.

Sawchak, a former Blazer Soccer midfielder, left school early to play as a professional, first in Canada and then in the top Finnish leagues. The Atlanta native was recruited to UAB in 2007 by head coach Mike Getman. When he left, he had about 10 classes left on his psychology degree. “I had the chance to go pro,” he says. “I had to take it.”

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'Super easy'

But after a series of injuries during his time at FC KooTeePee, FC Honka and other Finnish clubs, “I wanted something to fall back on,” Sawchak says. “I was interested in coaching at the college or professional level, and realized that I could set myself apart by getting a master’s degree in sports psychology.” But first, he needed to finish his undergraduate coursework. He reached out to Coach Getman, who put him in touch with academic advisors. They recommended UAB Finish — a program specifically designed for adult students to be able to complete their degrees online.

The program’s one-on-one assistance was invaluable, Sawchak says. “They made it super easy for me, which was great, because if it was difficult I probably wouldn’t have done it. They even mailed books to me in Finland one semester!”

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Sawchak was eventually traded back to his hometown Atlanta Silverbacks, and he moved into youth coaching. “I was working, coaching and my wife was pregnant,” he says. “It was a full gig, but I pushed through and finished up early this year.” Although he has four games scheduled for graduation day, he is working to be in Birmingham for the commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 28.  

  “They made it super easy for me, which was great, because if it was difficult I probably wouldn’t have done it.

'Just do it'

Sawchak has some advice for others with missing credits standing between them and a degree: “Just do it,” he says. “The schools and the advisors are there to help you. They guided me in the right direction, showed me which classes I needed to take. I didn’t have to figure out a whole lot.”

Find out how easy it is to complete your degree online at UAB. Connect with an advisor for one-on-one assistance today.