One of the things that I love about working in college athletics is that I’m surrounded by young, vibrant, hard-working 18-22 year old kids. In fact, I often tell recruits that I have 2 children and 400 step-children….our student-athletes. These young people keep me young, enthusiastic, and sometimes frustrate the heck out of me. They also remind me that I’m not so young anymore and have programmed me to answer to Mr. Abbott as opposed to Jim.
I love that I have the opportunity to impact the lives of our students. Similarly, as I continue to mature, I appreciate the chance that I have to mentor others in my profession and those that desire a career in Sports Administration.
To some extent I see mentoring others as a way of paying back those that have inspired, encouraged, advised, and listened to me in my years working in Sports. Looking back I owe a great debt to folks like Jim Weigel, Bud Sahmaunt, Roger Wexelberg, Mike O’Brien, and Tom McDaniel among others, that gave me opportunities, guidance, and support.
I’m not writing this post because I’m looking for more people to mentor. But the fact is that if you reach out to me via email, Twitter, etc to ask for my advice then you’ll get it. I’ll happily take 5-10 minutes to try to give you career advice, help you solve a problem or make a suggestion on how you can improve what you are doing.
I share this passion for mentoring with two people that inspire me greatly. Kevin Steele, Athletic Director at Mid America Nazarene has been a mentor and inspiration for me and countless others. He is quick with advice and always willing to find time. Matt Donovan, Sr. Associate AD at the University of Indianapolis, is also a continuing source of ideas and encouragement for me. If someone approaches me for help and I don’t have the answers, I often send them to Matt….who always does.
Not surprisingly, both Matt (NAADD) and Kevin (NAIA ADA) have been deeply involved in National professional development organizations. They don’t just share wisdom once a year during NACDA, they do it daily.
One of the best parts of working in sports is the willingness that people in our profession have to share ideas. I hope that the next time you get an email, voicemail, or tweet from someone seeking career advice you’ll take the time to respond. Let your memory of being young and uncertain guide you. Regardless of whether they land a job or terrific internship you will have given back. Like me, you’ll find that some of these relationships extend beyond that initial contact and like me you’ll feel a sense of pride when they do accomplish great things.
I’m grateful for the people that have taken the time to help and guide me through the years. I still depend on those folks and many others to help me grow in my job today. I’m even more grateful that I have the opportunity to inspire and help others.