Rob Concannon has a very impressive résumé.

For more than 10 years, he has been the president of the South Carolina Stingrays, Charleston’s professional minor league hockey team. His association with the Stingrays began in the 1990s, when he played for the Stingrays for five seasons, including the 1997 season, when they won the Kelly Cup Championship.

His name is also etched in the team’s record books. During his career, he scored 231 points (111 goals and 120 assists), placing him sixth on the Stingrays all-time scoring list. He also played in 330 games as a Stingray, the sixth-most in Stingray history. All that success and hard work on the ice resulted in his induction into the Stingrays Hall of Fame in 2004.

Concannon has accumulated a lot of honors and awards during his lifetime, but there was one thing he never obtained: a college degree. Sure, he attended college, receiving a hockey scholarship to play at Providence College, and later transferring to Salem College, where he was named a Division III All-American. But he dropped out of school in 1995 to turn pro and play hockey full time.

“I was majoring in hockey,” says Concannon with a chuckle. “I did not have a plan or a path. I was not very mature back then.”

But as every professional hockey player eventually discovers, there comes a day when it is time to hang up the skates. So, after spending eight years as a professional hockey player, Concannon entered the job market.  He held a series of jobs, including a City of Charleston firefighter, a realtor and the owner of Trio Club on Calhoun Street. Then, he was offered his dream job: working in the Stingrays’ front office as president of the organization. He was thrilled to have the new job, but in the back of his mind he knew he wanted to eventually receive that college degree that he started work on more than 25 years ago.

That opportunity became available when he discovered the College of Charleston’s Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.) program. The program allows adults to use previous college credits to advance toward a B.P.S. degree on their own timetable. Under this School of Business program, Concannon is able to use his old college credits and apply them toward a new degree. Even with his busy schedule, he is able to complete five or six online classes a year.

“The program allows people like me to take online classes while we continue to work at our full-time jobs,” he says. “I enjoy the courses because they are all the things I am doing on a regular basis with the Stingray organization. This helps me be a better leader and make better decisions.”

Godfrey Gibbison, former dean of the Graduate School, University of Charleston, South Carolina, helped Concannon ease into his new college life. The two met about five years before Concannon enrolled in the program. “It took five years for his life to evolve to the point where he believed he was ready to make the commitment to school,” says Gibbison. “It is important for students to know that it is OK to come when you are ready, and to do it at your own pace.”

Concannon is now a lot closer to obtaining a B.P.S. with a concentration in organizational management and development.

“I am excited that in a year or two I will be done with my degree,” he says. “I will be proud of that.”

Photo by Mike Ledford