The leader in professional development for collegiate athletics is NACDA. NACDA encompasses multiple levels of college athletics and multiple areas within the profession (from marketing and development to compliance and academics). I’ve had the pleasure of presenting at multiple NACDA sessions over the years mostly in the realms of marketing, development and my role as an Athletic Director. NACDA, held every year in June, brings together more than 2,000 collegiate athletics professionals and an unmatched opportunity to network and learn.
Last week I hosted my third BUSINESS of Small College Athletics Workshop (#BOSCA14). I started the workshop because I believed that there was a need for more professional development opportunities geared toward administrators at Small Colleges. I desired more opportunities for professional growth….so I created them! BOSCA isn’t intended to replace what NACDA provides, far from it…it’s merely one more opportunity to exchange ideas, build your network, and find new approaches to doing your job.
As Morgan Freeman says in Shawshank Redemption …”get busy living…or get busy dying.” More to the point of this blog….focus on getting better at what you do year round…or get left behind. You can’t attend a single convention or workshop once a year and hope to cover every area that you need help in. Develop your own plan/approach to consistently grow professionally.
Here is a look at how I have approached year round professional development:
NACDA and Affiliated Groups : I’ve been a member of NACDA for several years. NACDA provides excellent growth opportunities through their annual convention, monthly magazine, live chats, daily email updates and affiliated groups like NACMA (marketing), NAADD (Development), and many others. Learn more about NACDA at www.nacda.com
Get Involved Nationally or in your Conference : Seek to actively participate in your National governing body be it the NAIA, NCAA or NJCAA. Join a committee or group within the organization. This is a great way to stay abreast of current issues, meet and network with other professionals, and represent the views of your university. Similar committees exist within your conference. If a committee/group doesn’t exist…create one. For example: If you are the compliance coordinator at your university it would make perfect sense to organize, share ideas, and communicate on a regular basis with the other compliance coordinators in your conference. Every organization started with 3-4 folks that understood there is strength in numbers and more to be learned from the group.
Social Media – We all know the potential negatives of Social Media. Don’t let the negatives outweigh the positives. Social Media is a great way to tell your story and support/promote your teams. It also provides many opportunities for growth. Every day collegiate professionals post items on Twitter, Instagram and other Social Media outlets that give an inside look in to how they are running their department. Social Media also offers numerous opportunities to connect/follow (if only virtually) these pros. I have a number of relationships with other administrators that initially started as a “follow” on Twitter. Social media chats are another great way to share ideas and a great variety of them occur on a weekly basis. If you had an opportunity to interact with other sports pro’s from around the country on a weekly basis would you take it? Chats offer this opportunity and are plentiful.
Network – It is critical to have a network of folks that you can call on for advice. This isn’t nearly as hard as you would think. Collegiate athletic administrators are quick to share advice and opinions. Seek out 1-2 folks that you respect and reach out to them for advice. Use Social Media, attendance at workshops and conventions and every other opportunity to expand your network. As you grow in your profession…keep in mind that you will be counted on to share your wisdom freely as well.
Start Your Own : As I mentioned above, my desire to grow led me to create my own opportunities.
BOSCA – The Business of Small College Athletics workshop focuses on External Relations at small (NAIA, D-II, D-III, and NJCAA) colleges.
#SCACHAT – A weekly Twitter chat that takes place Sunday nights at 8pm CST. To be honest, my co-founders Ryan Ivey (AD at Texas A&M Commerce) and Kirby Garry (AD at Cal State Monterrey Bay) were the ones that really gave me the courage to get this started. It’s important to note…that I met both of these guys in sessions at NACDA and through Social Media. Every week I learn something during this chat that I can use.
Small College Athletic Administrators on LinkedIn - To view the page click here . I started this group about 3 years ago and it has grown to more than 500 members. The original idea was to create another forum to exchange ideas. While the group has grown, the traffic and participation level on topics posted hasn’t grown to the level that I had hoped.
I hold myself to the same standard that I hold my coaches and student-athletes to. Find a way every day to get better. There are many opportunities that exist to grow and develop your skills as a collegiate athletic administrator. Get involved, network, seek out advice, engage others and if all else fails…create your own avenues for growth.