University introduces speaker series for student-athletes

The “Owls Striving for Excellence” speaker series aims to provide Temple student-athletes with helpful advice.

According to the NCAA, the probability of making it from college to professional sports is near impossible.

The only sport with more than a 2 percent chance of going pro is baseball, in which players have a 9.7 percent chance of competing at the next level. This reality creates a need in preparing young collegiate athletes for life beyond the sport they play.

The “Owls Striving for Excellence” speaker series was created to give Temple student-athletes an opportunity to get perspective from professionals in the industry who have traveled down a variety of career paths.

Senior track & field athlete and Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Gabriel Pickett said he noticed the importance of networking as an opportunity that can lead to a job coming out of college while listening to speaker Marc Williams, the CEO of Williams Communications.

“Every opportunity is an opportunity to network,” Pickett said. “No matter who you’re talking to, you don’t know who they know. You don’t how much of an effect your short time with a person can do for you, so you always have to put your best foot forward.”

Pickett said Williams had the attention of all the student-athletes and delivered a resounding message in his address.

“He was able to relate to just about everyone in the audience,” Pickett said. “Whatever our major was, he had some type of situation that could relate to it. He was really good.”

“I definitely think that when adversity strikes, you never know who is watching or how your handling of a certain situation can affect you in the future,” Pickett added. “So I guess it’s best to err on the side of caution and being more cognizant of how your decisions can affect you down the road.”

Pickett said Williams’ speech to the student-athletes left him with confidence about how to best approach some of the challenges life will present.

The second event in the series was delivered by ESPN anchors Jay Harris and Jay Crawford. The two spent the majority of the time talking about the use of social media. Senior softball player and SAAC President Brooklin White said the student-athletes had all heard about using social media as a student-athlete before, but hearing it from Harris and Crawford was different.

“Once our coaches started following us we knew we had to keep it clean, but once it came from them as successful professionals, it means a lot,” White said.

White said she felt Crawford and Harris helped the student-athletes feel comfortable and did not boss them around over what they should and should not be posting on social media.

“They made it seem like they were our friends instead of our parents, even though they were probably our parents’ age,” she added.

The closing message Harris and Crawford left the student-athletes with was to not be afraid to fail. It’s the continual effort that will eventually pay off.

“It made me feel more comfortable in regards to the workforce,” White said. “We’re all going to fail multiple times when we’re out of college, but it’s important to be persistent.”

Most recently, former NBA player Rick Barry came to the university to discuss entitlement. Junior gymnast Lauren Capone said she felt Barry did a good job trying to motivate everyone.

“He kept pushing the fact that the only thing you’re entitled to is what you work for,” Capone said.

She said Barry’s message was simple: Stay motivated and be confident in oneself.

The series is expected to continue in the spring, with a speaker that is to be determined.

Greg Frank can be reached at or on Twitter @g_frank6.

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