Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seeing Past the Marble

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
~ Michaelangelo Buonarrati

This past January I had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and while visiting Rome, I thought about taking a day trip to Florence because I had always wanted to see Michaelangelo's Statue of David. Unfortunately, I was limited on time in Italy and I was told that if I were to go to Florence for a day, there was a chance that I might not even see the statue because of the length of those lines and the demand by thousands to see it daily.

In 1504, Michaelangelo said the above about his masterpiece after spending three years carving it from a block of marble. Earlier this morning, Floyd Keith (Executive Director of the Black Coaches and Administrators or BCA), told the story of Michaelangelo's carving to illustrate to my class what it means to have vision. Mr. Keith talked about his own career path and his own professional and relational goals and about the life that him and his wife have happily built together. The more I listened to Mr. Keith, the more I began to realize that my last 24 hours have had one consistent message - have vision. Everything and everyone that I have encountered over the past day have had that one thing in common - they have vision.

The last day has been a whirlwind for us DeVos Students as we have had our regular routine all sandwiched between two guest speakers and the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) Awards Banquet. The awards banquet was my favorite event that I have had an opportunity to be a part of in my short time as a student in the DeVos Program. The NCAS banquet was an opportunity to honor and recognize for using sport to make positive contributions in the lives of others that inspire us all.

"Sport belongs to us all"
~ Anita DeFrantz, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member & 2009 NCAS Hall of Fame inductee

Dr. Lapchick always likes to tell us that there is something about sport. Yesterday, Anita DeFrantz spoke to us from her experience as an Olympian (1976 Bronze Medalist in Montreal for rowing) and as an IOC member to make us realize that what is so great about sport is that it belongs to all of us. As she would put it, "it's our birthright". Anita is best remembered as a leader and advocate who challenged President Carter's right to boycott the 1980 summer games in Moscow. She argued that only an athlete should be able to determine whether or not they compete. The athletes lost their case and Ms. DeFrantz told us that the greatest tragedy of that boycott is that she and other Olympians had trained and worked and in the end, they were athletes without a result. Their training had meant nothing. Her advocacy did not go unnoticed though and eventually led to her being the first female Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee. This is surely a woman who had vision and has vision and I am better for having met her.

"Focus on your ability, not your disability. If you can do that, you can do anything."
~ Adam Bender, 2009 NCAS Giant Steps Award Winner

To have vision usually means to see something that no one else can. As Floyd Keith's example taught me, it's seeing the angel in the marble and having the courage to let it out. Take the story of Adam Bender because he is one remarkable young man. I encourage you to click on any of the links I have provided because you will be amazed by the people who were awarded last night. Adam Bender, as seen in the video, is a young boy who at a year of age, had one of his legs amputated. In spite of this, Adam found a way to participate in the sports he loved so much. He has been a stand-out in soccer, baseball, wrestling, and flag football and he has done what no one thought he would be able to do. For a nine-year old boy to defy all expectations and focus on his own abilities to accomplish great things - that is vision that I could only aspire to have.

"I could go to the Final Four; I could win a national championship, but doing this [working with Samaritan's Feet] is the greatest thing I could ever accomplish as a coach and person."
~ Coach Ron Hunter - IUPU-Indianapolis Head Coach & 2009 NCAS Giant Steps Award Winner

I also learned last night that vision means to have a voice and to do what you can with what you have. No one exemplifies this better than Coach Ron Hunter who when he heard about the need across the world for millions of children who do not have shoes, he began coaching basketball games barefoot and even organized shoe drives to provide children around the world with shoes. He has traveled throughout Africa and South America and other places around the world to give millions of children around the world their very first pairs of shoes and socks. This is a man who motivates me, this is a man who has vision.

And I could go on about the people who inspired me at last night's banquet such as Mallory Holtman and Elizabeth Wallace and the courage they showed in the now famous Central Washington vs. Western Oregon softball game. I could talk about the vision and strength it took for Jake Madonia to continue to compete in Division I shotput after having a baseball-sized tumor (and a toe) removed from his foot. I could talk about the vision that Sonny Hill still has for the youth of Philadelphia and the efforts that he has made to make the world a better place. And of course, who could ever overlook the vision that Kay Yow had for her basketball girls at NC State; she had a vision that helped her girls win basketball games (over 700) but also a vision that helped them to win in life (in 20 + years of coaching she graduated 98% of her players).

In these last 24 hours, I have learned the importance of vision and while I know this is long (which would not surprise any of my classmates) there is so much that could still be said about the amazing night that I had getting to hear the stories of all these great people. I am already looking forward to next year's NCAS banquet. As a student I am proud to be part of a program that not only works in partnership with NCAS but a program that encourages us to use sport to make a difference in the lives of others - just as everyone last night already has.

There is something about sport, it does belong to us all, and because of that we need to have a vision to be a positive force in this world. Through the awe-inspiring experience I have had over the past day, I have learned this above nothing else. In no other sports MBA program, or any other area of study, would I have had this experience to learn these lessons that will not only make me a better a professional, but will help me to be a better person. I hope you all have a great week!

See through the marble,


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meet The Class 2011 - Jaclyn

One of the unique attributes of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program is the network of students who make up our program. Our class will take every course together during our tenure here at UCF and we will work on countless group projects and collaborative efforts. As a result of our shared interests in the business of sport, a natural team camaraderie is formed. However, our team is composed of people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and ambitions. We offer profiles of class members to give you an idea as to the type of people who make up our program, individuals who collectively will be leaders in sport and society and will be teammates for life.

Name: Jaclyn Garris

Hometown: Vero Beach, FL

Undergraduate School & Major: Elon University and Leisure and Sport Management

Past Sports Industry Experiences: Elon University Game Operations and Ticketing Department (2 years), Boston Celtics- Intern in the Game Operations and Special Events Department (Summer 2007), National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)-Intern (2008-2009)

Current G.A. or Sports Industry Related Internship/Job: Projects Manager Intern-ANNIKA Foundation

Reasons for Choosing the DeVos Program: The DeVos Program combines practical business applications to the sports industry while providing a major emphasis on service and diversity. It has allowed me to return to my home state and attend a top 5 nationally ranked program.

Future Career Ambitions (1 to 2 sentences): I hope to work with the game of golf and combine my passion for the game with philanthropic ventures so that others may benefit from it as much as I have.

If you could play a round of golf with any three sports figures (dead or alive, on the field or off) whom would you choose and why? (Examples: Michael Jordan, David Stern, Pat Summit) I would love to play with Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, and my father. Tiger and Annika are, in my opinion, the most dominant players on their respective tours. I have always looked up to both of them, not only for their on-course skills but also for their discipline, charitable nature, and business acumen. I will always have my dad as my playing partner as he is the one who taught me how to play and knows my game the best.

Meet The Class 2011 - Devan

One of the unique attributes of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program is the network of students who make up our program. Our class will take every course together during our tenure here at UCF and we will work on countless group projects and collaborative efforts. As a result of our shared interests in the business of sport, a natural team camaraderie is formed. However, our team is composed of people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and ambitions. We offer profiles of class members to give you an idea as to the type of people who make up our program, individuals who collectively will be leaders in sport and society and will be teammates for life.

Name: Devan Dignan

Hometown: Grant City, MO

Undergraduate School & Major: THE University of Central Missouri (UCM); Speech Communication and Political Science

Past Sports Industry Experiences: Game Announcer, Clubhouse Manager, and Assistant General Manager for St. Joe Blacksnakes Minor League Baseball Club; Marketing and Promotions Intern for the UCM Office of Athletic Promotions; Guest and Premium Services for University of Central Florida (UCF) Athletics

Current G.A. or Sports Industry Related Internship/Job: Graduate Assistant for The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), Graduate Assistant for Hope for Stanley Alliance

Reasons for Choosing the DeVos Program: I was attracted to DeVos for a variety of reasons. I want to work in the sports industry and I wanted to go to a Top 5 program that offered a dual masters’, and while these are great reasons to choose DeVos those were only minor for me. The main reason I chose this program was because “there is something about sport” and I am excited to be in a program that recognizes that and not only understands the role of diversity and community engagement in sport but creates opportunities for the students to experience these things and how to use these things to make a lasting difference. That’s what excited me about DeVos and that is why I’m so excited to be a part of this program now.

Future Career Ambitions (1 to 2 sentences): I know that I want to work in professional sports (preferably NFL or MLB) and I have a variety of interests. I am not entirely sure exactly what I want to do but right now I am leaning toward Community Relations or Youth Engagement.

If you could play a round of golf with any three sports figures (dead or alive, on the field or off) who would you choose and why? (Examples: Michael Jordan, David Stern, Pat Summit)
This is a toughie but I would have to go with Kirby Puckett, Vince Lombardi, and Buck O’Neil. Kirby Puckett is my hands-down favorite baseball player ever and I really wish I had gotten the chance to meet him. Vince Lombardi would definitely have to be there because I feel like there is so much that I could learn from a guy like him, not just about football but about life in general – plus he was a pretty funny guy. And what can be said about Buck O’Neil – a lot of people don’t even know who he was but what that man did for the city of Kansas City, the sport of baseball, and for this country in general – especially in regard to integration and race relations – is unmatchable; he is without a doubt one of the most amazing people to have ever lived.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Telling Silence

Like many of the students in my class, I am too young to remember watching the Berlin Wall fall; too young to have been aware of the launch of Desert Storm; and just about too young to recall Nelson Mandela's release from a South African prison and ensuing ascendency to that country's Presidency. While time explains why we did not recognize these momentous world events as they were happening, there is no excuse for our continued ignorance when it comes to understanding apartheid and how it has shaped the world we live in today.

Dr. Lapchick movingly spoke about his involvement in the worldwide sport ban against South Africa in response to the country's apartheid policies. If you have never read or heard about Dr. Lapchick's incredible resiliency and courage to stand up for justice, I suggest you start here in an article written by the late, great Ralph Wiley that captures all that Dr. Lapchick stood and still stands for in the fight for racial equality in sport and society. While we in the class have heard and been inspired by Dr. Lapchick's personal biography before, we were challenged today when Dr. Lapchick began his lecture with a simple question to the class. He asked, "tell me about apartheid."

The silence in the room was telling. While most of us had a very broad understanding that apartheid was a form of legalized segregation in South Africa for most of the 20th Century, none of us felt confident enough to expound upon Dr. Lapchick's simple question. Here we are, graduate level students in a program that preaches an understanding of the important diversity issues of our time, and none of us could talk about apartheid.

While others in the class may have differing opinions, I felt today's lecture was perhaps one of the most important classes I have had in my four semesters in the DeVos program. I consider myself pretty knowledgable on wordly affairs and current events, but for it to have taken this long to really sit down and open my mind up to understand what apartheid was and its larger cultural significance dumbfounds me.

Moving on from our rough start to class, we watched a brilliant documentary out of the United Kingdom entitled More Than Just A Game, based on this book of the same name by Chuck Korr and Marvin Close. Do yourself a favor today - read "More Than Just A Game", research some online about Nelson Mandela, or plan to go see this winter's Invictus, a new Clint Eastwood film about Mandela and his role in South Africa's hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Don't sit back and let the world pass you by, become more informed and aware of how history has shaped who and what we are today. This lesson was reinforced to me today more than ever. I always speak about how privileged I am to be a part of this program, but today reminded me just how fortunate I am to be in the company of a leader like Dr. Lapchick, who not only understands the history of sport, but has lived and made history himself.

It is one thing to talk of the importance of racial equality and using sport as a platform for social change; it is quite another to go out and do something about it. In order for our generation to go out and carry on the legacy of Dr. Lapchick, we must first recognize and truly value the need to understand history. When Dr. Lapchick speaks to crowds in their 40s or 50s, the crowd is almost always taken aback by the magnitude of Dr. Lapchick's mention that he was personally invited to Nelson Mandela's inauguration. When he makes the same statement to college crowds, Dr. Lapchick has said that these crowds generally fail to fully comprehend the enormity of that honor.

While we all have always admired and respected Dr. Lapchick and all that he has accomplished, after today, my classmates and I are no longer blind to Nelson Mandela's place in history and how sport helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. After today's class, we can begin to appreciate what that inauguration day in 1994 must have meant to Lapchick, Mandela, the people of South Africa, and the rest of the people around the world watching history unfold. Most important of all, today reminded us that we are no longer too young to see the world.

- Charlie

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leadership - Not just something to wear on your sleeve

"A leader is someone who stands up for justice and doesn't block it's path."
~ Dr. Richard Lapchick

When I first arrived at UCF, one of the first things that my classmates and I received was a black DeVos Program polo and the first time that I wore this polo, I noticed that it said something on the sleeve -

Ethics. Diversity. Leadership. Community.

I have heard before of people who wore their hearts on their sleeves but never before had I worn a goal or mission statement on my sleeve; but that's exactly what I am doing when I wear that polo; I am making it known that I value the same ideals that this program values. In past weeks I have talked about Anucha Browne-Sanders and her ethics, my class and our diversity, and the community that exists within the DeVos Program as well as the communities that we seek to improve. And while again and again, my class has been exposed to great leaders, I just want to talk about what I have learned about leadership in the past week.

Last week, the DeVos Program had the privilege to host Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic, in our Distinguished Speaker Series. For a long time, Stan Van Gundy has served as a great leader to the players he has coached on all levels and the past few years, he has served as a great leader in professional sports.

I greatly enjoyed getting to listen to Stan Van Gundy speak and getting to speak with him afterwards. It was refreshing to listen to someone who was so honest about the sports industry. Van Gundy has been a leader his whole life and the thing that he said that really stuck with me was,

"If you're gonna be a leader, you set the values you are looking for ... when you're leaders - you have that same responsibility."

What Stan Van Gundy understands about leadership is that leadership is not simply some title or "being in charge". Leadership is standing up for your values, making sure the right thing is done, and being a positive influence in the lives of those around you. I started with a definition for leadership that our director, Dr. Lapchick, always gives for leadership and I truly believe that Stan Van Gundy fully personifies those aspects. I believe that by any definiton, Coach Van Gundy is a great leader.

Coach Van Gundy also talked to our class about strength, tenacity, and the importance of always choosing responsibility over money when searching for a job. He told us, "never confuse fame and notoriety with importance" and made us understand that a title or people knowing you is never what makes you a leader. Strength is what makes you a leader. The strength to stand up for justice. The strength to never block it's path.

By any definition, Stan Van Gundy is a leader and I feel privileged to have met someone who exemplifies the goals and ideals of leadership that this great program sets forth.

"In anything you do, you're going to be a leader; if you're going to be a leader you have to have a vision and set the course."
~ Coach Stan Van Gundy

Have a great weekend everyone!
~ Devan

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dallas Trip

Earlier this month, the Class of 2010 took their turn to enjoy one of the greatest facets of the program, the second-year class trip. This year, we went to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit premiere sporting venues like the new home of the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium, understand all the workings of promoting and operating a Major League Soccer franchise at FC Dallas, listen to the career paths of highly accomplished program alumni and sport professionals in the Dallas area, and be inspired by motivational speakers like Bob Beaudine (if you haven't read the Power of Who, be sure to pick a copy as soon as possible, it may very well change the way you view your career and life).

We learned so much and networked with so many new sport business professionals that it would be unfair to try and recap everything we saw into a short blog format. Suffice it to say, the trip was terrific and we will take many memories from our time there. Here are a few photos in a blog picture essay of sorts that capture the great people we met and great times that were shared for 3 days in Dallas.


The Three Amigos

Speakers on our distinguished panel

Our soccer stars with newest soccer, and FC Dallas Fan, Dr. Bill Sutton

The full group outside Arnold Palmer's historic Colonial Golf Course

Marketing Group for Dr. Sutton's class project enjoying the suite view at TCU Football game.

Students, alumni and industry leaders at networking dinner