Going The Distance

It is quite the norm for our graduate students to be employed somewhere in corporate America, and the degree they are pursuing is to help them achieve promotions. A small percentage of our degree candidates plow straight through after earning their undergraduate degrees.

But it is exceedingly rare when one of our MBA students is a professional athlete. Michael Arishita, 28, and a native Texan from the San Antonio area, is a triathlete juggling competitions around the world, intense training regimes, and studies.

Michael is on the Canadian National team, based out of Victoria British Columbia. As is common among triathletes and pro cyclists, November and December are the off-season, but by the New Year, it’s game on. That means many miles on foot, on the bike, and in the pool.

And none of those miles, whether pedaled, run, or swam, are done in tourist mode, because his team competes in Olympic distance triathlons. These are much shorter than the Ironman distances popular among endurance athletes. Michael’s events, though, are anaerobic bursts of activity, with a 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run. To give you an idea of the intensity, Michael reports his fastest 40k on the bike in 52 minutes and 30 seconds.

Let that sink in. Oh, and translated into American units, that’s 28.34 mph. Michael is so fast that he could get a speeding ticket in some neighborhoods.

A Texas A&M graduate with a degree in Kinesiology, Michael plans to use his MBA to operate his coaching business (MikeSquadCoaching.com). He is also scheduled to take the MCAT exam, with plans for medical school in a couple of years. In between his MBA and MD, though, he is also considering a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.

“The creative entrepreneur side of health care is what fascinates me the most. If I can combine the two, I think I can do many good things,” Michael said. He approaches his professional pursuits with the same level of intensity he does on the road and in the water. If it all sounds impossible, consider that Michael has figured out how to maximize his time. He attends to his studies while resting. It may not leave much time for other things, but he has everything dialed in with laser precision.

“My goal would be to continue to race professionally for up to five years,” he continued, noting that a decade of training will allow him to compete even after he scales back during med school. “I don’t think I could ever give up sport entirely. It has been the most important thing in my life, after family and friends.”

As other successful student-athletes have discovered, the two can be very complementary activities. The key word is discipline because it takes a high level of commitment to excel in anything. Michael has figured out how to transfer his athletic discipline to his academic pursuits.

After all, a healthy body has a healthy brain. “Sport has benefited me in an academic sense. When your body is functioning well, you are a better individual when your health is good.” This helps explain not just his zeal of degrees, but also his very high GPA. They feed off each other.

And if life is a competition, then Michael Arishita is already a winner.