GW Softball's Kristi Saporito Attends NCAA Career in Sports Forum
June 19, 2012
As the NCAA's public service announcement reminds its viewers, "There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports."
GW softball rising senior Kristi Saporito is among those 400,000 student-athletes, and this summer she has gone ahead in the count towards a career in athletics.
For student-athletes like Saporito who know their time to competitively play the sport they love will come to an end upon graduation, but want to remain involved in sports, there is the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, a four-day event through which selected student-athletes explore careers in sports and are coached on how to become the industry's next generation of leaders, with a primary focus on intercollegiate athletics.
"The goal of the Career in Sports Forum is to help student-athletes through three things - professional development, leadership development, and of course, personal development," said Christina Wright, assistant director of educational programs at the NCAA. "At the end of the day, we hope they leave the conference knowing how they can pursue their own career in sports."
Saporito was one of 300 student-athletes from across the country to be invited to attend this prestigious event, which took place June 7-10 at the NCAA's headquarters in Indianapolis.
The participants, who are selected from more than 1,100 applicants from schools throughout the NCAA's three divisions, were given an educational opportunity to learn and gain valuable exposure to careers in sports, specifically the areas of coaching and administration, via panels comprised of professionals from various fields within intercollegiate athletics. A range of seminars discussed key issues coaches and administrators face, examined the participants' personality traits and how they can help or hinder their paths to success, and introduced them to networking and communication skills that are essential to breaking into the world of athletics.
To be selected for the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, student-athletes requested to be nominated by their academic advisor, then completed an application which included essay questions on their goals, passions and career aspirations.
"Kristi was an ideal candidate for the NCAA Career in Sports Forum," said Karen Ercole, GW's associate athletics director for educational support services, who nominated Saporito for the conference. "Her commitment to excellence in her academic and athletic endeavors, combined with her interest in pursuing a career related to athletics, resulted in her selection to participate in this prestigious opportunity. I am certain that she contributed as much to this program as she gained from it."
Saporito chose to pursue the administrator track, which covered the internal and external operations of an intercollegiate athletics department, including such topics as academics, communications, compliance, development, event management and marketing.
"The forum described in detail the structure of an athletic administration at the college level," said Saporito. "By incorporating representatives from all of the levels within the NCAA, I was able to learn the structure of Division II and Division III programs, as well as Division I more in-depth. Also, I became more comfortable with meeting new people and gearing the conversation toward a professional goal, which can prove to be crucial when establishing a professional network. The importance of networking was a large focus of the forum - we were encouraged to meet and exchange contact information with other athletes, as well as the guest speakers and NCAA employees that were present at the conference."
Saporito is getting a head start working behind the scenes in sports organizations with a summer internship for the Rockland Boulders, an independent baseball team in the Can-Am League. In addition, she plans to intern with GW's athletics communications department in the fall.
"I have a recent interest in trying to get more involved in the press box," said Saporito. "I'm just trying to get a feel for the different areas of sports. I love the game of baseball, so a career around the sport is very appealing."
As a community relations intern for the Boulders, who are located in Pomona, N.Y., just 25 miles north of her hometown of New Milford, N.J., Saporito plans events and appearances for the team mascot, ranging from summer camp appearances to elementary school field days to parades. During games, she often assists with promotions or helps run the game script, directing the on-field entertainment and pre-game guests such as the National Anthem singer and first-pitch participants, and ensuring the proper announcements are made throughout the ballpark.
"I am considering a career in athletics because it is something I feel comfortable with," said Saporito. "Heading into my fourth year as a student-athlete, I have experienced a serious sports operation and would like to remain involved in sports after my own playing career is over. I think my experience as a student-athlete at GW has given me not only the knowledge of the sport and the effort and ability it takes to play at this level, but also the impact you can have on others around you in the community. That kind of pushes me towards wanting to pursue a career in sports, knowing how much you can impact the youth and the community."
Saporito, who won Best Female Athlete in a Supporting Role at the inaugural Georgey Awards last month, was the Colonials' top pinch hitter in 2012, picking up six pinch hits, including the game-winning single in a 1-0 victory over Saint Joseph's in an elimination game of the Atlantic 10 Championship.