BABSON PARK, Mass.—Women's lacrosse senior Olivia Martino (Berlin, Conn.) was one of two Babson College student-athletes selected to attend the NCAA Career in Sports Forum back in early June in Indianapolis. Held each year, the conference provides more than 200 college student-athletes with a broader scope of the career tracks available within the sports business, with the primary focus on college athletics.
Martino, who was joined by classmate Catherine Hunter(Duxbury, Mass.) of women's volleyball participated in four days of workshops set up set up to help student-athletes chart potential career paths while networking and learning from successful college administrators. The Babson athletics communications staff caught up with Martino following the trip to find out more about what she gained from the experience.
Babson Athletics (BA): What were some of the factors that made you want to apply to attend the NCAA Career in Sports Forum?
Olivia Martino (OM): "My high school team struggled to maintain a coach throughout the history of the program and I think the inconsistency of having to develop new relationships with a coach each season really impacted our team as a whole. Ever since then, I have always imagined myself coaching a high school or college team, and helping players develop and build their confidence both on and off the field. Since I've always had the idea of coaching in the back of my mind, I figured this forum was a great way to explore the idea on a deeper level."
(BA): What were some of your expectations about what you might learn going into the conference?
(OM): "Going into the conference, I really had no expectations other than the agenda that we were given prior to arriving. It outlined various speakers and networking opportunities so I expected a lot of chances to meet people within the NCAA and hear about their careers.
On the first day, I instantly was blown away by the different speakers and all the other student-athletes that we were able to interact with. I was able to meet athletes from all three divisions from all over the country, and even the world. It was very interesting to hear the different perspectives from athletes playing at the Division I and II levels. I learned a lot not only from the speakers but from the other athletes as well."
(BA): I know there were many different speakers and topics presented at the forum—what were some of your favorites and why?
(OM): "All of the speakers at the conference were extremely inspiring but the ones that were most impactful were those that not only had a passion for athletics, but also had a passion for their players and the desire to impact their lives in a positive way.
My favorite speaker was Penny Semaia, the senior associate athletic director for student life at the University of Pittsburgh and a former football player for the Panthers. Penny lives by the motto "high 5 and a smile" and encouraged everyone to come up with their own personal brand that they want to be remembered by. Personal branding is something that we talk constantly about at Babson, and seeing Penny implement his personal brand into what he does for a career was very inspiring."
(BA): As you think about a potential career in college athletics, how helpful was the interaction with current NCAA administrators and what insights were you able to gain from them?
(OM): "Interacting with the NCAA administrators provided a lot of insight into the variety of careers that you can work within the athletic world. There are so many careers that I never really thought of that are involved with the behind the scenes work that goes into running the NCAA and ensuring that all the athletes are being taken care of."
(BA): With over 200 student-athletes taking part in the conference what did you enjoy most about talking with and learning from your peers?
(OM): "Talking with all the other student-athletes was the most impactful part of the conference by far. The diversity and experience from the group of students was incredible. Some of the athletes were national champions and others never stepped foot in the game, but everyone's passion for athletics and success was evident. We all saw ourselves as the future of the NCAA and athletics in general, and want to remain in contact so that we have those relationships as we move into the different parts of the athletic world. We even created a LinkedIn group so that we can all stay in touch in the future."
(BA): Networking is important in all facets of life—was there a specific contact or group of contacts that you made at the workshop that can help as you transition from a student-athlete to a career in athletics?
(OM): "Networking was a huge part of the conference and everyone was constantly exchanging information so that we can all remain in touch with each other. A few of the students set up a google drive so that everyone had access to a master list of all the athletes that attended the conference, the schools they go to, their phone number, social media, and their future dream job. This is a wonderful resource to have for all of us because any time we are looking for a job we can access this document in order to try and build that connection beforehand."
(BA): What were other important takeaways from the four-day conference as you think about your future?
(OM): "One of the most impactful takeaways from the conference was hearing the concerns of other student-athletes who have experienced issues with diversity, lack of funding, difficult coaches, and even mental health issues. As a group, we uncovered a lot of flaws that still exist in the system and we want to be the group of students that fix these problems and create an even better experience for all the student-athletes who come after us."
(BA): After attending the workshop and having some time to reflect on your experience, can you see a future for yourself in athletics?
(OM): "This conference definitely opened my eyes to a bunch of possibilities for careers in the athletic world. I never realized how many different career options there are and I look forward to researching more into what those different careers entail."