Pacific Lutheran University men's golf senior student-athlete Kyle Drugge documented his experience at the 2017 NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis, Indiana for GoLutes.com. Drugge was an All-Northwest Conference selection in 2017, helping PLU win the NWC Championship and finish 18th at the NCAA Division III Championships, the Lutes best finish in program history. Away from the golf course, Drugge is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Chi Alpha Sigma honors society.
Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2017 NCAA Career in Sports Forum hosted in Indianapolis, Indiana at the NCAA National Office. At first, I had no idea what to expect.
Associate Athletic Director Jen Thomas mentioned the forum at a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting, and I thought it sounded interesting and decided to find out more about the event.
With Jen's help, I was one of about 240 students with a high interest in a career in sports that were selected out of over 700 applicants. Looking back on it now, I am over-the-moon happy about my decision to pursue this opportunity.
Before we began our first day of the forum, I was a little nervous because it was my first time to Indianapolis, I did not know exactly what to expect, and any time you are around 200 or so incredible student-athletes, it can be a little intimidating. Even with all the uncertainty, it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, and I would encourage ANY student-athlete that is interested in working in sports to apply or look into the event in the future.
Between the inspiration that I felt from the variety of keynote speakers, all the new concepts and knowledge that I learned from my peers during breakout sessions, and all the relationships that I formed, it was nothing less than sensational. I think the coolest part was meeting all the other student-athletes because while we all shared a similar student-athlete experience, we all had our own unique story to tell.
The forum brought together student-athletes from all three NCAA divisions representing nearly every sport. There were national champions and there were student-athletes on teams that didn't even win a competition. Forum attendees represented different states and countries, different majors, goals, aspirations, and different personalities. But there was a common connection between everybody because we all had a love for competition, and we all knew what it takes to be a student-athlete.
There was an awesome feeling of energy throughout the entire forum that made the week very exciting and fun. There is so much I could talk about, but I will just touch on a few of my big takeaways from my time at the 2017 NCAA Career in Sports Forum.
A common theme that many of our keynote speakers talked about is the value of the relationships. A lot of time was spent on building relationships and connecting with people as relationships are the underlying factor that brings us all together in sports. Along with the relationship topic, a lot of speakers encouraged us to find a mentor, someone who could help us along our journey to get us where we want to go with our careers and professional lives.
My second big takeaway is the concept of self-awareness. It is so important to know who we are, what our values are, and what we stand for, because whether we know exactly what we want to accomplish in life or not, knowing who we are can elicit a sense of reassurance and self-confidence.
Some of the ways that we looked into finding out who we are included a DISC assessment, which looks at our personality type and helps us better understand who we are, and just as importantly, who others are. I found this very helpful because it provided different ways to work with different personality types and how we can connect even if our personality types do not align. Another part of self-awareness comes from emotional intelligence. This was a very interesting topic to talk about because it can be easy to forget how our emotions impact our own behavior, other's behavior and emotions, and how context can change all of that.
My last takeaway is the importance of a strong "why". Our final keynote speaker, Jason Burton, explained the significance by saying, "When you know your 'why', your 'what' has more impact because you're walking towards your purpose." This resonated with me because I love this concept and I recently read a book that explains the value of starting with your why.
As I was flying home once the forum was over, I had some time to reflect. I was sad that my short time in Indianapolis had flown by so quickly, but I was even more excited for the road ahead. I brought with me a great amount of knowledge and advice that I can share with my fellow PLU student-athletes and I made a lot of new friends from all over the country and beyond that I plan to stay in touch with. I'm also excited because the forum validated my desire to coach and teach in athletics. I now know what I want to do for a career, but most importantly, I know WHY.
I started to tear up on the flight home, which was slightly awkward because I was sitting in the middle seat, but the tears were coming from my gratefulness. I'm grateful for my short yet amazing experience at PLU and all the people who have helped my along my way, whether it be a professor, administrator, coach, teammate, or peer. I'm also grateful for my friends and family who have always supported me in my endeavors, and have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and continue to grow. The 2017 NCAA Career in Sports Forum was one of those experiences that got me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow and I'm excited for what my future holds.