Daemen's Alicia Contreras Blogs from the NCAA Career in Sports Forum

Daemen's Alicia Contreras Blogs from the NCAA Career in Sports Forum

by: Alicia Contreras

Day One

Hello from sunny, gorgeous Indianapolis, Indiana. I arrived at the NCAA Career in Sports Forum this afternoon with fellow Daemen student-athlete Rachel Pawlak and former Daemen student-athlete Somara Colon. Once arriving at NCAA headquarters, which is right across the street from our hotel, we began the registration process.  We were given a backpack and a binder that we will be filling out during our time here. I found this to be very helpful because once we got to our first round of speakers it was nice to have an organized binder to take notes in.
Once we entered the ballroom, where we eat the meals and listen to speakers, I noticed that there were a lot of athletes from different divisions and schools represented. It was surreal to see well known Division I athletes. I never put myself in the same boat as them. I consider them to be famous athletes and it is a little crazy to me to think that they are student-athletes just like the rest of us.
One of the first football players I met just graduated from Southern Methodist University. Once we started talking we realized he knew my older brother, Jared Contreras who is a Daemen student-athlete alumnus, because he is an athletic trainer for their football team. It is amazing to think how small the sport realm really is and how you build connections with people based off of information that you never thought you had in common.
We had a couple of things on the agenda for the afternoon that were very inspiring. We had a diverse panel and a very motivational speaker. The panel was very interesting because each of the panelists had their own perspective on intercollegiate athletes, but all had the same goal. The goal is to make the student-athletes have the best experience during their career. Although it is very hard to make it equal across the board from a Division I to Division III, one of our speakers said that this is one of the more pressing issues that they are trying to resolve. The motivational speaker was very inspirational. After listening to him talk I found myself feeling reassured and refreshed about pursuing a career in intercollegiate athletics. As long as I put in all my effort and work hard every step of the way, I will have endless opportunities.
After the speaker session was over, we ate dinner and took a tour of the championship room. This room has every sport that the NCAA offers and what schools have won championships. This has to be my favorite part of the trip so far because all the history and information in this room was incredible. We were even able to shoot a basketball around, score a goal against a virtual goalie, and throw a pitch against a virtual batter. Everyone seemed to enjoy this part thoroughly and was the perfect ending to the first day!
I look forward to tomorrow because the day will be full of networking and learning how other established professionals got their start. I will let you know how the second day goes. Thank you for reading!

Day Two

What an amazing day! It started off with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast and you could feel the anticipation of everyone here. Today was the day that we were all dressed in our best business suits for our networking day! It was very refreshing to see everyone dressed to impress and eager to connect with current NCAA employees.
Our first speaker of the day, Mattie White, has been my favorite speaker by far. She did not originally start out in athletics, but in student affairs and fell in love with working to better student-athletes. I always find it interesting and inspiring to hear how people found the career they love. One of her main points was that we are always growing and learning. There is nothing wrong with changing your career path to explore a new one that may be a better fit.
Our second activity was a panel comprised of representations from each division. They were able to explain more in depth the workings of each division and how they are similar and different from one another. I also found it interesting to learn that the NCAA really does listen to the student-athletes' voices. Student-athletes are a big part of the ones that propose new rules and form the regulations we have today.  I knew that we had a voice, but never realized how much of an impact our voice made. After learning this it made me even more appreciative of being an NCAA student-athlete.
 After lunch we had the opportunity to network with each other because we were split into our breakout groups. Everyone had a specific color on his or her lanyard and that was the group they were in. I was able to really connect with a few people and exchange information with the hope of keeping in contact over time. Every single student-athlete there was incredibly friendly, well spoken and deserving of this opportunity. It is so nice to meet other people who have similar goals that they want to achieve.
Our last activity was being able to connect with current NCAA employees. I was able to meet a fellow Californian who grew up around forty minutes from me. She works in the communication department dealing with negative press and defusing situations using media. After listening to her describe what she does on a daily basis, it made me realize that I could see myself working in that section of communications. This job deals with every department in the NCAA which I believe is a great job for myself because I love working and talking with people on a daily basis.
The amount of information that I learned today was incredible and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store of us! As one of our speakers Clyde would say, "we are just adding to our box experience, knowledge that we didn't have yesterday and that we can improve on tomorrow." I cannot wait to tell you how tomorrow goes. Thank you for reading!

Day Three

It may have been a gloomy day outside in Indy today, but that did not put a damper on everyone's moods. Everyone was still as enthusiastic, if not more because today is the day we learned what type of person we are through the assessment we took as pre-work preparing for this forum. Today turned out to be learning about yourself and how to apply it in the work place, especially once your career as a college athlete is over.
When we took the DiSC assessment test in May as pre-work, I wondered how they would use it in the forum. The leadership department did an amazing job at creating a segment specifically tailored to what this assessment is about and how to apply it everyday. It turned out that I was an "I" which meant I was "influence". My exact pattern came out to me a "persuader" which I found eerily accurate. They handed us a packet that explained our strengths and weaknesses and pin-pointed what we need to personally work on.
I finally got a chance to meet Clyde, our "M.C." for this forum. He used to be the athletic director at the New York Institute of Technology and is now the athletic director and Bowie. I was so honored to get a chance to speak with him and be able to connect with him because of our relationships with Bridget Niland. Clyde is such an amazing, friendly man. He made a point to congratulate me on being accepted to this forum because out of 800 student-athletes that were nominated and applied; only 200 were selected, making me one of the lucky ones. It is such an amazing honor to have been nominated let alone selected, but being told by someone of his caliber how much of an honor it was put me over the moon because I am beyond blessed and thankful for this opportunity.
The rest of the day was spent learning how brand yourself, network, finding a balance between business and personal life, and emotional intelligence. I loved the emotional intelligence speaker because she made it really easy to understand emotional intelligence and how it plays a key role in the work place.
One of her main points was that we always have a choice. We always have a choice on how we are going to react to a situation. It is easy to go with our natural reaction, but being able to take the extra five minutes in order to collect your emotions and react rationally is being emotionally intelligent. It all comes down to situational circumstances. Being able to distinguish whom you are with and how you can act with them is a huge component. Our speaker did a great job at giving us relatable examples, especially since we are all so young and still need to strengthen our emotional intelligence.
Today had to be my favorite day because it was interactive and we were learning more about each other and ourselves. I know I have a lot to work on during the next year to better myself, but I am not nearly as nervous as I was because of the reassurance the speaker gave us. It is all right to make mistakes; this is an industry where everyone is constantly learning and developing, and it is not the end of the world if you make those mistakes. It only means that you are growing and maturing as a person.
Tomorrow is the last day and although I am sad to see it come to an end, I am beyond excited to use the knowledge I gained during this experience. Thank you for reading!