June 27, 2011

The following article was written by the University of Richmond's Caitlin Fifield, a rising senior on the women's Lacrosse team who attended the 2011 NCAA Career In Sports Forum and is interested in pursuing a career as a collegiate lacrosse coach. 

This is her account of her four days spent at the Forum:

Last week I attended the 2nd Annual NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis. I was nominated by the athletic department at the University of Richmond, and also went through an application process. The NCAA accepted about 300 student-athletes from hundreds of schools across the country and across all divisions. We chose to be on a specific coaching track or an athletic administration track during our time at the conference. Since I want to be a Division I college lacrosse coach after graduation, I was placed on a lacrosse specific coaching track during my four days in Indianapolis.

Caitlin (Front row, fourth from Left) pictured at the
2011 Atlantic 10 Conference SAAC Meeting



Going into the week, I had no idea what to expect. Before arriving we were given pre-work that dealt with our strengths, weaknesses and core values so I expected to learn a lot about myself and start to build my own coaching philosophy while in Indianapolis.

When I arrived in Indianapolis, we were each put in a color group and a track group. Our days were broken up into color group sessions and track sessions while we had the chance to listen to various keynote speakers during our meals. Our days were very long and filled with lots of information but were tremendous learning experiences. I think we totaled 40 hours in three and a half days so I was exhausted at the end of the week to say the least!

Our color groups were mixed with various student-athletes, all on different tracks. During our time with the color groups, we focused on a variety of topics ranging from core values, learning about ourselves, how to market ourselves and crisis management. This basically dealt with concepts that reached all of us across the board, despite what kind of career in sports we were striving towards. The main concept that we all have taken away was the idea of networking and how strong relationships are throughout life. Who you know and how you utilize your resources is critical to getting a job and also to continue learning from others in your field of interest. My favorite part of the color groups was the DiSC assessment we all took before arriving to the forum. We received our results the first day, which told us about our personality in the workplace. We learned about ourselves and which personalities we work best with in the workplace. We also learned how to make the best of our relationships, whether the person is opposite or similar to us. We all received a 20-page booklet that was catered to our exact results based on the assessment, which was very helpful. I think I liked this the most because my assessment described me perfectly and I truly feel it will help me work better with others.

My coaching track group was much smaller and much more focused on my specific career path. We all wanted to become lacrosse coaches in the future, some college, some high school, and some unsure what level. We had the men's head coach at NYIT work with us and facilitate our time together. He was very informative and gave a ton of handouts from his program, which was very helpful. We went through various topics in coaching such as recruiting, strength and conditioning, academics, team values, facilities, etc. We were able to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot from one another. Although we only spent a couple hours together each day, we made the most of our sessions and made good friends along the way.

Throughout the four days, we were in and out of our color groups and tracking groups but we also did some other cool things. We rotated through an educational fair to learn about NCAA health and safety, sports architecture, resume building, and a mini networking session with various companies. The Red Cross was even on hand to certify us in CPR and AED. All of these sessions were really helpful and interesting to see all the things that go into collegiate athletics.

Overall, I thought the NCAA Career in Sports Forum was an amazing experience and I am very thankful I was able to be a part of it. For the four days, I was really able to step out of the player perspective and look at athletics from a coach's point of view. I have a much better idea of what life will be like as a collegiate lacrosse coach and have learned the steps I need to take in order to reach that goal. The NCAA did a really great job preparing the student-athletes at this conference to take the next step in pursuing athletic careers.