Developing Champions: Student-Athlete Development

Wake Forest Athletics is committed to the overall growth of our student-athletes, and we seek to provide an environment and programs that promote the “total person” experience. Based on the athletic department’s mission of “Developing Champions,” we directed and implemented a variety of programs throughout the 2015-16 year designed to enhance our student-athletes’ leadership skills, build character, engage them in the community, and prepare them for successful post-collegiate careers.

Student-Athlete Development works hand-in-hand with The Office of Personal and Career Development, who is committed to contributing to every student’s preparation for life after college in competitive professional environments. We want our Demon Deacon student-athletes to be successful academically, athletically, personally and professionally.

Student-athletes are encouraged to start developing their career path as early as freshmen year, and build upon it throughout their time at Wake Forest. Throughout the 2015-16 year, Student-Athlete Development, in conjunction with the OPCD and Allegacy Federal Credit Union, offered a variety of opportunities for student-athletes to enhance their skills, explore career options, and connect with potential employers. During the academic year, we had a record-breaking 95% of student-athletes involved in Career Development programming and collected over 330 resumes in total!

Personal Career Planning Appointments - To help accommodate the busy schedules of our student-athletes, the OPCD and Student-Athlete Development continued offering career-planning sessions in the Miller Center each week. Each student-athlete has the opportunity to schedule a 30 minute to 1 hour discussion with a professional career counselor. They can utilize this time to discuss majors/minors, build their resume, conduct mock interviews or talk through internship possibilities and career options. Throughout the course of the year, an OPCD representative met with over 80 student-athletes for a total of nearly 127 appointments!

Walk-in Resume Reviews – This year, we offered a new feature to all student-athletes in the form of walk-in resume and LinkedIn profile reviews. Student-Athlete Development met individually and in small group settings with close to 50 athletes throughout the year to work on starting and improving their resumes, searching for internships, writing cover letters and creating LinkedIn profiles.

Career Treks – Over the winter break, the women’s basketball team piloted our new Career Trek program, which allows student-athletes to travel to locations off-campus to learn from business professionals and alumni. The team participated in a field trip to Allegacy Federal Credit Union in Winston-Salem, where they ate lunch with business leaders and listened to brief talks regarding professionalism and career planning from different company representatives. The women had a chance to network and also were given a tour of the headquarters. In order to prepare for the event, the team took part in a “Skype Lounge” with former student-athlete and ESPN analyst, LaChina Robinson, who spoke with them about the importance of investing in the future and utilizing their resources wisely in preparation for life “after the game.” Based on the success of the initial pilot program, we intend for more teams to participate in the career trek model in 2016-17.

Career Night – For the 3rd Annual Career Development and Networking Night, student-athletes enjoyed a buffet dinner at Deacon Tower before listening to an inspirational speech delivered by Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures. They also heard a 60 second “elevator pitch” from various industry representatives and graduate programs before getting the opportunity to network with these employers and attend informational workshops. The workshops included, Carrying Yourself Confidently, Learning from the “Pro’s,” Budgeting 101, Building a Better Resume, What a Recruiter REALLY Wants, and more. This year, we collected 304 resumes from student-athletes in attendance, an all-time high for the athletic department. Thanks to our sponsor Allegacy Federal Credit Union and to the Office of Personal and Career Development for their partnership in hosting the event.

2015-16 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)  - The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is composed of representatives of each varsity team. Led by Assistant Athletic Director of Student-Athlete Development, Ashley Wechter, SAAC meets monthly to discuss issues relevant to the quality of the experience of Wake Forest student-athletes. The SAAC also offers input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes' lives on NCAA member institution campuses.

SAAC is our main leadership development program in athletics. SAAC is a 34 member (2-3 representatives per athletic team) group that meets monthly. The mission of WFU SAAC is to serve as a liaison between the student body, faculty, athletic department and student-athletes. SAAC seeks to enhance the student-athlete experience by providing opportunities while fostering a positive student-athlete image as representatives of the University, the ACC and the NCAA.

SAAC Retreat