Clarksville, Ark.-Senior University of the Ozarks' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Ian Bryan recently was selected to spend four days at the 2013 NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas, January 15-19.
Through a NCAA Division III Strategic Initiative Grant, the American Southwest Conference was able to provide Bryan and 10 student-athletes from the ASC the opportunity to attend. Bryan was one of four from the conference to attend the convention in its entirety. He was among 3200 attendees, less than 100 of which were student-athletes.
Bryan, who plays baseball and runs cross country, attended a variety of business sessions and awards ceremonies, including the Honors Celebration. He was also able to assist with a Special Olympics activity and network with NCAA representatives as well as other student-athletes from around the country.
“Assisting with the Special Olympics activity was one of the best experiences,” said Bryan. “We worked most of the day helping the Olympians learn the basic skills of tennis. There were about 100 Olympians and 35 student-athletes at the activity. I was also able to hear NCAA President Mark Emmert speak before the event.”
Other highlights for Bryan included hearing from the honorees at the Honors Celebration and listening to others’ viewpoints at the business sessions. At the Honors Celebration, Bryan was able to hear former NFL Head Coach Tony Dungy, who won the organization’s highest award.
Bryan, who has applied for an NCAA Internship, hopes to eventually land a career in athletics. He will graduate in May with a degree in management and administration.
Bryan provided a glimpse of the NCAA Convention experience for ASC Assistant Commissioner Greg Weghorst.
Day one began with an amazing experience by helping out with a Special Olympics activity with the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. There were two activities for the Special Olympics Texas athletes: a learning session of tennis skills and a 12-station competition of skills and nutrition education. During the tennis session, the athletes were taught basic skills, such as balance, passing and hitting. At the various stations, the athletes competed in events such as a shuttle run, medicine ball throw, ball toss and stretching, and completed nutritional questionnaires. Being able to have the opportunity to help out with the kids and watching them have so much fun enjoying the life of sports that we all love was very exciting. Serving others and helping out with the Special Olympics Texas athletes was one of the greatest experiences of the NCAA Convention.
Following the Special Olympics session was the NCAA Keynote Luncheon, which featured an interview of Dr. Shaquille O’Neal by the NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert. O’Neal provided attendees with insight on his upcoming plans, history of his career and the hard work it took to get to where he is today. O’Neal is very influential and inspiring individual who has not only been successful on the basketball court, but has also been successful in business and in the classroom. O’Neal has won multiple NBA championships, owns several companies and has an earned doctorate degree. Anyone that is a Shaq fan knows that he is quite a hilarious guy and loves to keep the audience laughing. Although we students wish we could have taken a picture with Shaq and received an autograph, having the opportunity to hear such a successful athlete speak was a great honor.
Next, the start of the many educational sessions began with "The Future of NCAA Championships" and was followed by "Social Media and Student-Athletes." Topics such as joint Division I, II and III championships; publicity and promotion of championship events; locations; and improving the championship experience for the fans and student-athletes were presented by NCAA Executive Vice President Mark Lewis. The Social Media and Student-Athletes session focused on issues of monitoring students’ social media posts and encouraging proper use of social media. With social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter such a big part of everyday life, attention to the communication medium was considered to be the hot topic during the NCAA Convention. The use of social media during recruiting was debated on whether coaches should be able to use direct or private messages in the process and whether should coaches be allowed to become Facebook or Twitter friends with prospective student-athletes. From the student-athlete perspective, many of us believe that “friending” PSAs by college coaches should not be approved. These educational sessions were a great way to have an up-close look at the future in sports.
Following the educational sessions, the NCAA Convention Trade Show and reception provided a look at companies that provide a wide variety products and services to universities, conferences and the NCAA. Each company at the Trade Show had promotional items, such as bags, blankets, pens, balls, folders, key chains and hats -- we all gathered so much free stuff that it doubled the amount of luggage for the trip back to campus! The eventful first day wound down with the ASC group heading to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Day one of the NCAA Convention was full of excitement and inspiration.