Three Northern Illinois University student-athletes were among a select group of 200 NCAA student-athletes chosen to attend the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum held the first weekend of June in Indianapolis.
Participants at the annual educational forum learn about and explore potential careers in sports.
Among nearly 1,000 applicants from every level of collegiate athletics across the nation, NIU received news that Alex Elias (Phoenix, Ariz./Boulder Creek) from women’s soccer, Andrew Frankenreider (Peoria, Ill./Dunlap) of baseball and Emily Naegele (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) from NIU’s MAC West-winning softball team were each selected as participants.
Embracing the Student Career Success model outlined by NIU President Doug Baker, the trio of Huskies was also the only group of student-athletes to represent the Mid-American Conference at the event, which was held for the seventh consecutive year with several keynote speakers and panelists highlighting the four-day conference.
Upon their return to DeKalb from the NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis, Elias, Frankenreider and Naegele each spoke glowingly about their experience at the event.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from and meet the NCAA Board of Directors, several athletics directors and numerous people working in marketing, business and coaching in college sports,” said Elias, a rising NIU women’s soccer senior who majors in mathematics education.
Frankenreider, a pitcher for the Huskie baseball team working on a business degree, highlighted the DISC assessment given to each participant at the conference as something that especially benefited him.
“The DISC assessment was a really cool activity that was an extremely accurate reflection of our personalities and taught all of us how to manage our behavioral styles to work well in team settings,” Frankenreider said, “which is something that’s certainly important to know about when working in sports and other professions as well.”
And Naegele, who just finished her remarkable softball career by being chosen as a CoSIDA First Team All-American and a NFCA Third Team All-American while completing her pre-physical therapy degree, discussed her appreciation for being able to get a head start on networking with fellow student-athletes who might also work in athletics in the future.
“I definitely think one of my favorite parts was being able to meet 200 other student-athletes from Division I, Division II and Division III who are doing what we’re doing on a daily basis and being able to network with them because they’re going to be our colleagues and peers in the future,” Naegele said.
The NIU trio that attended the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum also emphasized their gratitude to NIU Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) leaders Melissa Dawson and Megan O’Quin, who initially helped nominate the Huskies for the prestigious national student-athlete conference.
“As I consider a future in business or information technology, Melissa Dawson thought this would be a great chance for me to see how that career path could overlap with sports, which is definitely something I’m very passionate about,” Frankenreider said. “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do that.”
As she prepares to enter NIU’s graduate school for physical therapy, Naegele spoke about her newfound full appreciation for the work administrators in collegiate athletics do, saying that “with all the athletic directors and administrators at the conference, it was extremely interesting to hear from them about why things are done the way they are on all levels. That part was very cool to learn about.”
And Elias summed up the experience by explaining how the chance to attend a NCAA national conference such as this was just the latest in a long list of highlights in her collegiate career at NIU.
“Spending the last few years as a student-athlete at NIU has allowed me to make the most of so many opportunities,” Elias said.
“Being a LEaD Huskie, serving as a captain on my team and working with the great SAASS office have allowed me to get the most from my student-athlete experience. It feels incredible to have the support from the administrators at our school and to see how much they care about helping us in our careers.”
For more information about NIU athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.