BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College had the pleasure of welcoming back one of its own, John Somsky ‘71, to campus on Thursday as keynote speaker for the annual Fall Convocation. 

Somsky is an accomplished figure in athletics, sports management, and marketing. As a proud Bethany College alumnus, he has had a diverse career, including roles in PGA Senior Tour management, sports marketing, and strategic business planning. He is known for his involvement in significant sponsorships, such as NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass, and Kick, and for featuring Michael Jordan in marketing campaigns. Somsky’s contributions extend to education, where he served as a teacher, coach, and athletic coordinator, and he has received numerous honors for his exceptional contributions to the field.

Convocation started with remarks from Bethany President Dr. Jamie Caridi, saying “As we begin a new academic year, let us continue to challenge ourselves to create, imagine, and lead with grace, always encouraging one another to be the best version of ourselves. It’s what Bethany people do, and it is what has made our College the special place it is for 183 years. It’s also what will propel us forward as we continue to change lives in the next century to come.” 

Caridi then went on to present Todd Puskarich, assistant director of application support, with the Staff Award for his hard work, describing him as the “lighthouse in a storm.” He also recognized Dr. Scott Brothers, associate professor of chemistry, for the Faculty Award, saying his work exemplifies the spirit and values of Bethany College. Students who made the President’s and Dean’s list for the spring semester of 2023 were also recognized for their academic excellence during the event.  

Somsky then took to the podium for an inspiring speech focusing on the most valuable lesson he learned as a coach, finding an edge. He discussed emotional stability, saying he believes controlled emotions create an edge, which will give you the best chance for success.  

“So, what was the driver? Emotional quotient. How emotionally stable could you keep a team over time and then inject the right piece so that you could prompt them to great levels of competition? Emotional stability is one of the key factors in your success.” 

Somsky says he’s gained a lot of knowledge in the past five decades, sharing five tools that can improve your edge: be curious and learn to solve problems, build alliances, know your risk tolerance, learn about leverage and its use, and never underestimate the value of good fortune. He then recognized those who have made the most lasting impact in his life.  

“To some Quan is love, to others it’s respect, to others it’s money, but for most of us it’s a combination of the three. It’s going to take some time, but if you find it—hold onto it,” said Somsky. “My wife Evonne, she’s my Quan. She’s the best person I’ve ever known and for 40 years she has supported me and given me guide rails to keep me on the road and headed in the right direction.” 

He also credited the late Bethany coach and Athletic Director Bob Goin ‘59 for much of his success stating that it was his patience, intervention, direction, and lifelong friendship that set the foundation for all that he accomplished.  

Somsky concluded by saying “Now here is my call to action. May you find your Quan, identify who’s your who, and definitely may you find your edge. Good luck to you and remember—you are, we are, ONE BETHANY.”