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The Sports & Business Symposium Through My Eyes

The Sports & Business Symposium first annual event was this past Thursday. This event is about introducing high school student athletes to a panel of former athletes and sports professionals who have achieved success behind the scenes and  to educate teens about the challenges that the sports world has to offer. In the program synopsis, it states “98.8% of college athletes don’t go pro so ‘What are former athletes going to do when the ball deflates for good?’

Blake Bozeman, a former college athlete and CEO of The Pivot Group and Brian Inge, DC Blue Devils 16-under AAU coach, were the two responsible for putting together this event. Blake said “he started a nonprofit geared to the program’s message called the Pivot Group… and with my friendship with Brian and through his experience with event planning and doing tournaments it was natural cohesiveness to bring the two visions together…” Upon entering the event, Blake played a video, where various personalities such as Stephen A. Smith and Roland Martin discussing how to sustain wealth, along with excerpts of the ESPN’s 30 for 30’s “Broke.” Seeing panelists and symposium attendees arrive at the event, glued to the video, commenting to others nearby set the standard that something good would come from the event.

The panelists: Justin Brown, Daryl Davis, Denise Harrington, Monique Lewis, Enrico McClearly II and Keith Williams sat down as Bishop McNamara student athletes walked in accompanied by Blake and Brian as they to moderate the event. Each panelist introduce themselves and the moderators took turns asking each panelist a question based on their story.

What made this event so special is that each panelist had a memorable takeaway from the event. Brian asked Enrico, an attorney and athletic advisor, to name some things that he wish he did in college that would have helped him. Enrico didn’t hold back. He explained to the audience not to be “too cool” or to always ask questions and even go to church. Certain kids began to connect with his story. Bishop McNamara alum Justin Brown who went on to play football at Notre Dame and is currently an Under Armour brand specialist for Stephen Curry, spoke and immediately he was able to connect with the students because he starting point is the exact same as them. Justin told them to set goals but more importantly work every day doing something to obtain that goal.

Monique, a former Coppin State University basketball player who is currently the CEO of Momentum Operations,  told everyone how all her focus was on basketball and it didn’t change until she tore her ACL her senior season at Coppin State. One thing that connected with everyone is when she said “plan for what you want, prepare like if you don’t get it.” Blake then asked Keith, the director DC Blue Devils AAU program about how to avoid pitfalls as an athlete. Now with the DMV area being known for producing a lot of talent that he has mentored local stars such as Kevin Durant and Markelle Fultz. The DMV also had high profiled failures who should have went on to become global superstars instead of local legends. Keith spoke on New York Knicks’ Michael Beasley,a highly sought after talent at one-time considered to be a better NBA prospect than KD but he never stayed focused. He even mentioned area legends such as Stacy Robinson and Schuye LaRue. His message to the kids was to stay grounded, be mindful that one wrong move can change everything. After Keith spoke, a student who had to leave, went out of his way to thank the panelist that he was receptive to the message and regrets he had to leave the symposium early.

Brian asked Daryl, who is the CEO of the Parrish Group LLC, a financial advisory firm specializing in helping small businesses reach their goals, what three things do you look for when you are hiring. He is looking for work ethic, self-motivation, and then education/intellect. Daryl mentioned he had to recently fire someone who did not have keen attention to detail skills.

As the first round of questions were coming to an end, Denise, the CEO of DMH consulting to explain how being an African American woman has impacted her field of work. She said that when working with notable clientele not to let their celebrity overshadow her. She told a story of how she had an interaction with Tiger Woods where she was asked to spend the day with him and provide expert media training. His personal time didn’t want her involved at all but she persisted and was able to provide him with some much-needed pointers. She added that what she told him that day would have been beneficial when he went was arrested earlier this year.

After the first round, the audience asked questions along with the panelists gave their final remarks. The event overall left me yearning for more. I was able to speak with Dominic Rowe, a recent Morgan State University  journalism graduate biggest takeaway from the event “Goal. Plan. Execute. You also have to have patience and great work ethic.”

Before I left, I caught up with Brian Inge and Blake, Blake told me that people were already asking for another symposium saying don’t wait till next year. Brian added that we plan on doing this again in the next two or three months, trying to reach every school in the county and even the state. It takes a village to raise a child and programs like this help push our kids further in the future.

With the success of the first annual Sports & Business Career Transitioning Symposium, its certain that the sequel will have an even bigger impact on the area. Special thanks to Arthur Jones, II for referring me this event to cover. As for my biggest takeaway, it comes from something panelist Daryl Davis said during his final thoughts: “Pray on it like you depended on God, but work on it like it depends on you.”

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