Eastern Pair Reap Benefits of NCAA Career in Sports Forum

Eastern Pair Reap Benefits of NCAA Career in Sports Forum

Editor’s Note: In early June, two student-athletes from the Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey program were chosen to represent the Little East Conference at the 8th Annual Career in Sports Forum, a four-day symposium staged at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis. Katy Jankura of Guilford, a senior-to-be this fall, and Darianne Mastricola of Jefferson, NJ, who completed a four-year field hockey career last fall, were among more than 200 student-athletes representing 73 conferences nationwide to participate in the event. Jankura, an NFHCA Scholar-of-Distinction award-winner, is majoring in Secondary Education and English. Mastricola earned a degree in English with a minor in Women’s Studies this past spring.

Participants who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in sports, and who were viewed as leaders on their campus, were invited to apply for a spot at the forum after a nomination by athletics administrators at their respective schools. Forum attendees heard from various keynote speakers and panelists, highlighted by Stevie Baker-Watson, associate vice president and director of athletics at DePauw University; Jason Burton, head women’s basketball coach at the Texas A&M University-Commerce; Clyde Doughty Jr, director of athletics at Bowie State University; Oliver Luck, NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs; Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center; and Craig McPhail, director of athletics at Lees-McRae College. The participants also learned ‘best practices’ for gaining employment and gathering a better understanding of what future expectations will be once they get a job in sports. 

Next week: Darianne Mastricola shares her own experience in Indianapolis

By Katy Jankura ’18

The purpose of the Career in Sports Forum was for us to gain knowledge and network within the sports industry. In order to do so, the NCAA Career in Sports Forum coordinators set up a rigorous four-day program that exposed all of the participants to various careers in the world of sports.

We began our early morning with the host, Bowe State University director of athletics Clyde Doughty Jr., who have opening remarks in the “Student-Athlete Huddle,” highlighting the events of the day.

Although the anxious student-athletes listened to influential speakers for nearly ten hours each day, each speaker brought a unique concept or lesson to his or her presentation during the forum. For example, Doughty emphasized The Moment, Maya Ozery, director of student-athlete leadership and development at the University of Richmond, explained emotional intelligence, and Marlon Dechausay, associate director of athletics for academic services at the University of Illinois, focused upon personal and professional branding.

Throughout the day, we would listen to lectures with power point presentations, panelists with different perspectives, and have one-on-one conversations with the NCAA staff. After each seminar, the NCAA coordinators would invite us to ask questions directed at the professional and their presentations in order to gain further insights in their understanding of the sports industry.

Although the forum emphasized listening and taking advantage of what the speakers had to offer, each day we would go through a “breakout session,” in which we divided into three groups so that the presentation could be more personable with less student-athletes, as well as being exposed to more hands on activities.

Prior to the forum, we were required to take the DISC behavior assessment test, which is a behavioral assessment tool which centers on four different behavioral traits (Dominance-Influence-Conscientiousness-Steadiness). During one of the breakout sessions in Indianapolis, we were given our DISC assessment results, which defined our workplace priorities and preferences based upon the test. The point of the seminar was to explain to us the importance of self-awareness and understanding our own preferences in the workplace so that we are able to work better with other styles.

In all, the host, speakers, and NCAA staff stressed throughout the program to take advantage of networking with the successful individuals who took time to give the participants an inside look into the sports business. Each speaker provided his or her contact information after each presentation, and urged us to use that information to benefit our career.

Ultimately, the forum was what you wanted to make of it. While communicating with other student-athletes from institutions like Penn State and the University of Louisville, everyone had various perspectives of the forum. Some took full advantage of networking with the successful speakers, or realized their options were more open in the sports world, while others simply enjoyed their visit to Indianapolis and created friendships across the nation and all three divisions.

In summary, I am grateful for this opportunity as it propelled me further into my understanding of the sports business. The Career in Sports Forum taught me to take full advantage of every moment I can, while it also opened my eyes to my professional development and who I wanted to market myself as in the business world.

I would like to personally thank every member of the NCAA who made the Career in Sports Forum a success, as well as Lori Runksmeier, Eastern’s director of athletics, who provided Darianne and I the opportunity to further explore our options in athletics.