NEWARK, N.J. — NJIT women's volleyball seniors Olivia Welsch and Liz Benson were two of 200 student-athletes to be selected and participate in the NCAA Career in Sports Forum at the NCAA National Office Headquarters in Indianapolis from June 6-9.
The Career in Sports Forum, an annual educational forum hosted by the NCAA, brings together student-athletes to learn and explore potential careers in sports, with the primary focus on college athletics.
This unique, four-day forum was designed to assist student-athletes in charting their career paths, as well as provide an opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals.
"This past weekend I was able to meet several student-athletes, coaches and administration members that represented all NCAA divisions, which helped open my eyes too all of the places that a career within collegiate athletics could take someone," Welsch added.
"It makes me so excited knowing that there are a multitude of ways to impact the lives of student-athletes once I am done being one. One of my biggest takeaways from the event is that the time is NOW. People hire people; people don't hire resumes. What you do today, what you say today, and how you make people feel, all contribute to your personal brand. When you know "your why" and focus on doing your best possible work at your current position, opportunities will present themselves and when challenges appear, it is critical to turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones."
The libero from Stillwater, MN, was one of three Highlanders to appear in all 32 matches. She recorded 200 total digs (third on team) and notched double-digit digs in five matches. Welsch set a new career-high with 17 digs on Oct. 6 at Jacksonville.
"The NCAA Career in Sports Forum was an awesome opportunity to experience different sectors of the NCAA and the possible careers within its member-led organization," Benson commented.
"The purpose of the NCAA is to provide a pathway for opportunity for college athletes; this organization works FOR student-athletes in all divisions and conferences, across the country. The biggest thing I took away from the forum was the importance of creating connections. In the intercollegiate athletics industry, everyone knows everyone. The idea of networking can seem intimidating but seems easier if you rather think about it as attempting to make genuine connections with people. Don't be afraid to share your personal brand and unique value proposition with everyone you meet. One quote from one of the presenters at the forum that I won't forget is, 'Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card and how others feel after an interaction with you is your trademark'."
Benson appeared in all 32 matches, leading NJIT in assists for the third straight season (544; 5.08 aps) and finished second in total digs (204).
The 6-foot setter from Plymouth, MN, recorded her season highs early in the season - 46 assists against Delaware State on Sept. 1 and 21 digs vs. Saint Peter's on Aug. 25 while logging four double-doubles.
Participants who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in sports, and who were viewed as leaders on their campus, were invited to apply to attend the forum after a nomination by athletics administrators at their respective schools.
Many current and past attendees are members of their Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the student-athlete voice within the NCAA governance structure.
The selection committee is comprised of administrators and coaches within the NCAA, many former forum participants themselves.