Upon graduating from Augsburg University in May of 2013, my vision to work in sports was a tad cloudy.
I had interest in a career in athletic training, fostered during time spent junior and senior years as a student worker in the Augsburg athletic training room. However, with a degree in business management, exploring a career in sports medicine proved to be a challenge. While looking for other ways to get into the world of sports that better aligned with my degree, I uncovered master’s programs in sport management that led me down a new road.
Four semesters later, that road was temporarily blocked due to personal, family tragedy and self-doubt. As a result, I postponed applying and preparing for graduate school for two years. In February of 2015, I was ready to apply to two programs, one on the west coast (University of San Francisco) and one of the east coast (Georgetown University). During this process I was met with admissions challenges, one a deferral of admission and the other a decline. For almost a year, I struggled with the decision to move far away from home and my support system. Ultimately, I made the decision to stay true to my vision and continue the journey which led me to California for 23 months.
Throughout the process of attaining a master’s degree, I took advantage of several opportunities. These included an internship with the Southern California Special Olympics and two part-time jobs one with the Los Angeles Dodgers and another with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. To further break into the sports industry, I also volunteered at several sport specific events.
Five months from graduating and with a degree nearly in hand, I ventured back home for an informational interview with members from the Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee (MLOC). The MLOC is charged with planning, organizing and hosting the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. The meeting left me excited about the potential opportunities to be a part of the Final Four. The MLOC, partnering with Step-Up/Achieve Minneapolis, offers an internship opportunity called Future Stars. The Future Stars program strives to seek and represent diversity within the community and provides young professionals with the unique opportunity to learn, grow and network within the game of collegiate basketball, the NCAA and the greater community of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The program is interwoven with work projects that advance the MLOC event development plan.
Obtaining the opportunity to be a Future Stars Intern, this summer has afforded me the chance to attend critical planning meetings for Final Four event logistics, and tour both the Minneapolis Convention Center and US Bank Stadium. I have also been able to see both operational plans and layouts for the April 2019 events, provide input on multiple projects, that are part of hosting a major event such as a Final Four and form another pivotal step in the right direction of my sports career dream.
To young people of color interested in careers in sports; opportunities do exist. You must stay focused, and take chances, even in an environment that appears to not have the representation of others like you. If you put yourself behind the wheel of your future, the road to success definitely gets clearer.