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Sean Skahan Discovered the Craft of Physical Fitness in the Healey Library


Human Performance and Fitness BA, 1998

Sean Skahan found his career in the Healey Library when he stumbled upon a strength and conditioning journal in the stacks. 
“I was like, wow this is actually a profession,” he says. “I liked to train. I liked to work out. I was an athlete, and I was into sports medicine, and I figured out that there was a profession of people that did this. I said, hey this is what I want to do with my life, and here I am doing it at the highest level of the sport of hockey.” 
When Skahan enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Boston, he had a shoulder injury. He couldn’t play sports, and he struggled through his freshman year. 
“In the spring of that first year I had surgery, and I didn’t do a good job academically that fall freshman semester, so I actually enrolled in a junior college in Franklin Mass. my second year, and I did well.” 
He realized he was interested in sports medicine, and re-enrolled at UMass Boston in the spring of 1995 as a Human Performances Fitness major. 
“I went from athletic training to strength and conditioning.” 
As an extra curricular, he played on the football team for the 95, 96, and 97 seasons in division three varsity. 
“I met some great people on those teams. A lot of people that were on that team are good friends of mine today. We definitely had a good time.” 
Skahan decided to go to UMass Boston because it was close to where he grew up in Squantum. 
“I lived at home after graduating from high school, and I also wanted to continue to play football. I know that football is now a non-issue at UMass Boston, but they had a team at the time. I played football. I was able to continue my education and play football at the same time.” 
Living in Quincy, he’d drive in to UMass Boston and sometimes hang out with friends in the cafeteria between classes, but he didn’t spend a lot of time on campus. 
“In the fall I would have practice at the school, and then games on Saturdays,” he says. “I worked part time as a bartender on Saturday nights, and I also worked at a mental health clinic, a homeless shelter for mentally ill people and that was my work to pay the bills throughout the year.” 
His favorite class was Kinesiology, taught by Gail Arnold. He also liked the exercise classes taught by Avery Faigenbaum. 
“Those classes were foundation classes where I learned about the body and how it works,” he says. “Dr. Faigenbaum was really a guy that spearheaded strength and conditioning. He introduced a lot of students to the field of strength and conditioning.” 
Skahan also enjoyed taking classes with Kyle Mckinnes, an exercise physiology professor, and Duncan Nelson, who taught an inspiring writing course. 
“It’s a unique school in the fact that it was a commuter school, and the fact that people were very dedicated when they were at school, and they had other things going on in their life while they were students. They were very serious while they were at school, making sure their work was done, and focused while they had their away from campus life going on as well.” 
Skahan felt comfortable among his peers at UMass Boston. 
“They were students like myself. There weren’t too many kids who just went to school there. They also had other responsibilities and commitments such as outside work or other things going on in their life. They weren’t just. It wasn’t a typical college where mom and dad just dropped you off in September and picked you up in June.” 
He says it’s a good school for people in the Boston area who want to do well in life. 
“It’s an avenue for people to achieve their dreams and goals,” he says. “I’m certainly a product of that.” 
After completing undergrad at UMass Boston, Skahan worked for a strength and conditioning company and interned with the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs. Then he went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Holding an MA of Education in Physiology, Skahan worked briefly at the University of North Dakota and then Boston College before getting a job as a strength and conditioning coach with the Anaheim Ducks. 
“They were looking for a strength and conditioning coach and the new head coach at the time reached out to a friend of mine’s friend, and asked if they knew of anyone, and I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time to be recommended for that position.” 
Skahan’s passion for fitness took years to develop into a career in sports medicine, and UMass Boston is where it all started. 
“It’s ok if it takes longer than four years if life gets in the way. Just stick to your goals and you can achieve them.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010