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Michael Sohikish Michael Sohikish
 


The Road Back to Viejas Arena

A fan favorite as a player, Michael Sohikish returns to the SDSU men’s basketball program as a graduate assistant.
By Fowler College of Business News Team
 

Michael Sohikish is a familiar face to most Aztec men’s basketball fans. Sohikish, now an MBA student at the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University, was a student manager for the team for three years before earning a spot on the roster during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

As a player, Sohikish was a fan favorite — though at 5’9,” he was the only Aztec under 6’1” during his two seasons as a player. 

If at First You Don’t Succeed

Though he played on his high school team and “was a huge fan of Aztec basketball,” Sohikish came to SDSU more determined to study civil engineering than to play basketball. Nevertheless, he took the opportunity to attend walk-on tryouts as a freshman and, while he didn’t make the team, Sohikish found another way to be involved with the program. 

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“After the tryouts, coach Dave Velasquez spoke to the participants about other program opportunities, one of which was helping with graphic design,” he said. “Since graphic design was (and still is) a hobby of mine, I sent him some examples of my work and I became the graphic designer for the team.” 

Changing Directions

Three days after taking on the team’s graphic designer role, Sohikish took another assignment as one of the team’s student managers, which opened new possibilities for him. As a student manager, he assisted with the day-to-day operation of team practices, workouts, and games, in addition to other on and off-court duties.

“I still wanted to become the best basketball player I could be, even if I never stepped on the court at Viejas Arena,” he said. “As a student manager, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be surrounded by great basketball minds such as Coach Steve Fisher and Coach Brian Dutcher, as well as the incredibly talented players who came through the program. It inspired me to study the game and work on my craft every day.”

As a student manager, Sohikish had access to the team’s practice facility at the Jeff Jacobs JAM Center, where  he worked on perfecting his game “in the morning before class, after practice, Friday and Saturday nights, and holidays” with the goal of earning a spot on the SDSU basketball squad. “Over the next couple of years, I developed my game and became an asset on the scout team during practices,” said Sohikish. “Ultimately, Coach Dutcher put me on the roster during his first season as head coach.”

Keeping His Priorities Straight

During his time as a student manager and, later, a guard on the Aztec men’s basketball team, Sohikish was also a dedicated engineering student who held internships with the City of San Diego during his sophomore and his senior years at SDSU. He said that being able to prioritize his responsibilities became key to meeting his academic and athletic objectives. 

“Understanding what my priorities were and when things needed to be done on a day-to-day basis made life as smooth as it could’ve been,” he said. 

One of Sohikish’s most cherished memories was participating in the basketball team’s Senior Night in 2019 where Sohikish was given the starting nod at his last game played at Viejas Arena. Three months later, he earned his bachelor’s degree from SDSU and he moved to the Bay Area to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering, at the University of California, Berkeley. While he was on a break from his studies at Berkeley in December 2019, he attended an SDSU men’s basketball practice session, and “just for fun,” he resumed some of his old manager duties.

This led to another life-changing opportunity when some of the Aztec coaches asked him if he would consider coming back to SDSU as a graduate assistant. “Being a graduate assistant was never really on my radar,” said Sohikish. “As the next few months passed, my interest grew exponentially, and I decided to pursue the opportunity.” 

Back to State

After completing his master’s degree, Sohikish returned to his hometown to pursue an MBA starting in the fall semester of 2020. “Business is the driving force of the vast majority of occupational disciplines and engineering is no exception,” he said.

“While working at my undergraduate internships, I was able to experience the business end of engineering operations first-hand and my decision to pursue an MBA was definitely influenced by those experiences. I anticipate that the education that comes with earning an MBA will be of great value to my future endeavors.” 

As for those future endeavors, Sohikish plans to ultimately use his engineering and business education to establish his own engineering firm, but he’s leaving the door open to other possibilities in the short-term.

“Right now, I’m not sure if I’ll pursue a career in coaching or immediately transition into a professional engineering career,” he said. “Up until this point, I’ve found myself in positions that I’ve never planned for, which have all led to me meeting great people, having incredible experiences and encountering a vast array of fruitful opportunities.”