(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – BYU track and field decathlete Jackson Walker was named as one of 200 current student-athletes and postgraduate scholarship recipients invited to attend the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis on June 2-5.
Student-athletes who have expressed interest in future careers in athletic administration or coaching are nominated to attend the forum by athletic administrators who view these athletes as leaders on their campus. Student-athletes are then eligible to apply to attend the forum. From there, the NCAA selects 200 of the thousand-plus applicants from DI, DII and DIII schools.
After learning about his nomination to attend the forum, junior Walker said his enthusiasm began to build.
“I got really excited,” he said. “I learned a little bit more about it, and I saw an opportunity to make myself more marketable as a future athletic administrator. It was cool to be thought of and to apply, and I was really excited when I got in because in my mind, there were other applicants that were also qualified and successful.”
Walker is currently studying exercise science, and he looks forward to attending the forum as a way to guide him on a path to a career in athletic administration, a path that is not always clear at first.
“It would be great to have a yellow-brick-road path and to know that it is one step at a time, from here to here," Walker said. "But I feel like life never is that way, you just try to do your best and opportunities will just present themselves, kind of like this one. This is something that I feel like will better give me the tools necessary to be successful in the future.”
The Career in Sports Forum is an annual educational forum hosted by the NCAA which brings together selected students-athletes from all over the country to learn about and explore potential careers in sports and athletic administration, the primary focus being on collegiate athletics. The four-day forum assists attendees in charting a career path and gives them an opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals. They hear from a variety of speakers and panelists during large, general sessions, and also engage with peers in small-group classroom discussions.
“Supporting NCAA student-athlete leaders with their education is a key goal for the Association,” said Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer. “Our Career in Sports Forum puts student-athletes and postgraduate scholarship recipients in a non-traditional academic setting where they can learn directly from successful leaders, which can have a positive impact on their future after graduation.”
Walker has already qualified for the 2016 NCAA Championships in the decathlon with a score of 7403. With an automatic bid into the round of 24, Walker is looking forward to attending the forum before he and his other nationally-qualified teammates head to Eugene, Oregon, for the championships.
“It’ll be really busy. I’ll go to Indianapolis for this forum, then I’ll get back, and the next day I’ll leave to go to Eugene for Nationals.”
Despite the hectic schedule, however, Walker’s primary goal and focus is performing well at the NCAA Championships and representing BYU the best he can.
“I am looking forward to competing at an elite level and having lots of good competition," he said. "I am excited to be able to represent BYU on a big stage because ultimately, scoring points at Nationals is the goal. I wouldn’t be a real competitor if I didn’t think I could score points for the team.”