INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Two Eph athletes and a coach/administrator were in attendance at the 2012 NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis recently.
Jen Chuks who wears many hats at Williams as an Assistant Athletic Administrator, Assistant Professor of Physical Education & Assistant Coach of Women's Basketball was a facilitator at the forum, while track standout Tanasia Hoffler '13 (New Haven, CT) and cross country and track athlete Anna Spiers '15 (Niskayuna, NY) were participants in the forum.
The forum was created to provide NCAA student-athletes with a broad scope of career tracks in coaching and administration and offer interactive experiences with successful individuals in intercollegiate athletics.
"This is really an investment we're making in the future of these student-athletes," said NCAA Vice President of Student-Athlete Affairs Robert Vowels. "Many times, people see only the athletics side of NCAA student-athletes. These individuals are also leaders in the classroom who one day will be leaders in their communities, too. We want to provide student-athletes with opportunities to grow and develop, and offering a career forum is a great way to complement their collegiate experience."
The student-athletes at the forum represented Divisions I, II and III men's and women's sports, with sport-specific coaching tracks for basketball, cross country, track and field, field hockey, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. Athletics administrators at their respective schools, who view them as leaders on their campus, selected forum participants. Over 1,100 athletes applied to participate in this year's forum.
Both Hoffler and Spiers had attended the NESCAC Women's Coaching Symposium held at Tufts earlier in the year so they were excited to see what the NCAA was offering with the forum.
Spiers, who at the moment is interested in pursing the coaching track in college athletics commented, "Prior to the Forum, I knew I was interested in becoming a high school cross country and/or track & field coach. The Forum opened my eyes to what it takes to be a collegiate coach, as well as to be an AD, Assistant AD, SID, SWA, and more in all three divisions or what it'd be like to pursue a career with the NCAA."
"I found this experience extremely valuable," continued Spiers. "Not only was I able to pursue my interests in coaching, but I learned what it takes to succeed in athletics administration. The job interview skills, etiquette, and networking tips we learned can be applied to any field I choose to enter into a career."
"We had panels of professionals describe their professional journeys to get where they are and they touched on alternative careers in sports and coaching in intercollegiate athletics," Spiers noted. "The passion of the other student-athletes to pursue a career in this field was contagious, and I was impressed with the productive discussions we had in our groups. It was a pleasure to meet such successful yet hardworking student athletes. We formed relationships that will last a lifetime and that can help us when we're trying to make it in a sports career. Tanasia and I have been to a coaching symposium before [NESCAC], where we covered many of the same topics, but I was awed that I was still able to learn something new in each session even though I thought I'd learned it all."
Spiers and Hoffler highly recommend this experience to other Eph athletes. "This forum exceeded my expectations as every speaker and discussion topic provided me with useful information that I hadn't learned before," stated Spiers. Hoffler was more succinct in stating her recommendation, "absolutely," she commented.
"I strongly recommend it to other Ephs," said Spiers. "The forum is an opportunity to learn to succeed in job interviews, to network with other student-athletes who will be future leaders of the sports business, and to learn further about yourself, your priorities, and what you want to do in your career. "
"Prior to the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, I was unsure about what interested me more [coaching or administration]," Hoffler stated. "In the spring, I attended the NESCAC Women in Coaching Symposium, so this time I figured I should apply for the administration track. Now that I've become more educated on the profession of sports administrators, I am even more unsure! I'm counting on post-graduate internships and coaching positions to further shape my interests."
"The forum provided great insight on what it is like to be a sports administrator," continued Hoffler. "Featured panelists discussed undergraduate and graduate education, everyday responsibilities, as well as likes and dislike of their administrative position."
Also impressive to Hoffler was," the honesty of those who participated. Student-athletes challenged panelists and speakers with personal and sometimes deep questions. I appreciated the responsiveness and realness."
Jen Chuks is entering her third year at Williams and she came to Williams with an NCAA coaching and administration internship, which she has turned into full-time employment at Williams.
"As a facilitator at NCAA Career Sports Forum I had the opportunity to meet and educate Division I, II and III student-athletes from around the country," Chuks said. "The facilitation included having the student-athletes define what their core values are and how they intersect with various career opportunities; learn how to build relationships through effectively communicating with others by understanding different behavior styles; develop plans to enhance their development and growth to aid their personal career map and; benefit from the opportunity to network with key decision makers on campus as well as at the NCAA."
"A lot of student-athletes see collegiate athletics and immediately want to be in the industry, but aren't aware of the necessary steps," noted Chuks. "As facilitators we provided them the opportunity to learn the many facets of intercollegiate athletics, giving them a well-rounded view of athletic administration as well as coaching. Although very rewarding, collegiate athletics is a difficult industry to break into and being able to provide the skills and knowledge to break into this business is an invaluable opportunity that I am happy to have been a part of. "
"Being able to share the experience with the next generation of coaches and athletic administrators was amazing," Chuks commented. "I was able to soak up their energy, their eagerness to learn and remind myself why I chose to be an athletic administrator. These student-athletes are the future of our industry and the reason why I work at Williams College. Any opportunity I have to give back and provide insight into the world of collegiate athletics or knowledge on the transition from being a student-athlete to an athletics professional, I am always more than willing to do so."