Profiles in Sport – Steve Bryant

Welcome back to The Campus Game and our continuing series on “Careers in Sport.”

For the past month or so, these profiles have provided regular Campus Game readers, and college students interested in pursuing sport-related careers, with authentic information from both seasoned and new practitioners working in sports.

We are not limiting our subjects to one specific area of sport; instead the purpose is to highlight a range of potential career avenues.

Our previous subjects included Chuck Dunlap (Associate Director of Media and Public Relations for the Southeastern Conference), Claude Felton (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Communication at the University of Georgia), and Hillary Jeffries (Director of Special Projects for the National Football Foundation).

For our fourth profile, we return to the Classic City of Athens to feature Steve Bryant.

Name: Steve Bryant

Organization

University of Georgia Athletic Association

Current Position

Associate Athletic Trainer

Educational Background

M.ED. Sports Administration, University of Georgia (1984)
B.S. ED. Physical Education, University of Georgia (1981)
Associate of Arts, Gordon Junior College (1978)

Summary of Position/Job Responsibilities

Oversee Sports Medicine for the Olympic Sports at UGA
Oversee Medical Coverage for NCAA Events at UGA
Athletic Trainer for Men’s/Women’s Golf Programs

Previous Positions/Background

I started in this field of work in the 8th grade as a manager/trainer for the football teams in Elbert County (GA). I worked as the trainer for women’s basketball at Gordon Junior College in Barnesville (GA), and then as a student athletic trainer and Graduate Assistant at UGA. As I finished my Graduate Assistantship I moved to a full-time position and have remained at UGA since.

Most Enjoyable Aspects of Your Position

There are too many enjoyable aspects of this job: Working with some of the greatest athletes in the US, constantly being part of a “Team” atmosphere where the goal and mindset is always winning, seeing athletes come back from injuries to be able to compete, and seeing the success of the athletes after they finish their collegiate careers.

Most Challenging Aspects of Your Position

Time demands (the job is definitely 24/7/365) and being able to balance the duties of the job with those of being a husband and father.

Busiest Time of the Year

Two times are the busiest … one being the first of August, which we call the “Start-Up” (getting everyone in the system and getting all of the sports cranked up). The second is late Spring. We have school finishing and it is “Championship Time” as we host a lot of NCAA and Conference Championships.

To Unwind and Relax I:

Fishing is # 1, but I hardly get to do it. Reading books is as peaceful as it gets (until the cell phone rings). Going to the lake.

Advice for Students (or those seeking to work in sports)

1. Before going into this field you better know exactly what the time demands are …
2. Always do the right thing!!! …
3. Work as hard as you can every day — it will definitely pay dividends.

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Profiles in Sport – Hillary Jeffries

Welcome back to The Campus Game.

This is the third in a series of “Careers in Sport” profiles. The purpose of these profiles is to provide regular Campus Game readers, and college students interested in pursuing sport-related careers, with authentic information from both seasoned and new practitioners working in sports.

We are not limiting our subjects to one specific area of sport; instead the purpose is to highlight a range of potential career avenues.

Our previous subjects included Chuck Dunlap – Associate Director of Media and Public Relations for the Southeastern Conference, and Claude Felton – Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Communication at the University of Georgia.

Today’s profile is Hillary Jeffries of the National Football Foundation.

Name: Hillary Jeffries

Organization

National Football Foundation

Current Position

Director of Special Projects

Previous Positions

National Football Foundation/Special Projects and Communications Assistant

Educational Background

B.S. in Journalism from West Virginia University
M.S. in Sport Management from West Virginia University

Summary of Position/Job Responsibilities

Responsible for the complete oversight of the College Football Hall of Fame nomination and voting process, as well as running the National Football Foundation’s National Scholar-Athlete Program.

Most Enjoyable Aspects of Your Position

I’m consumed by college football year-round; I love getting to work with athletics departments from around the country; I enjoy the research aspect of my job and learning more about all of the Hall of Fame and scholar-athlete nominees each year.

Most Challenging Aspects of Your Position

In the fall, it can get pretty hard trying to balance scholar-athlete nominations with preparations for our Annual Awards Dinner in December. It just never seems like there’s enough time in the day.

Biggest Influence on Your Career

Surprisingly, my older sister, who knows absolutely nothing about sports, is probably the biggest influence on my career. We work in completely different fields, which allows me to get a fresh perspective on things when need be. She’s encouraging and not afraid to give me constructive criticism; she just challenges me to be better, personally and professionally.

Busiest Time of Year

Football season. No question.

To Unwind and Relax I …

Spend time with friends and get out in the sunshine as much as possible.

Advice for Students (or those seeking to work in sports)

Never think any job is too small for you. Approach everything with a positive attitude and look at even the most minor of tasks as a necessary step in reaching your ultimate goals.

Souvenirs

Souvenirs

I hate graveyards and pawnshops
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my childhood souvenirs.

Souvenirs – John Prine 1972

This summer has allowed some time for reflection, and listening to John Prine sing (via the miracle of youtube) is about as reflective as anyone could want.

Souvenirs, possibly Prine’s most popular song, includes those wonderful lyrics above … and it got me to thinking about so many childhood college football “souvenirs” I seem to be missing these days.

Here are a few …

Lindsey Nelson and his plaid jackets.

The old Notre Dame football replays on Sunday mornings with Nelson and “The Golden Boy” Paul Hornung (“we switch to further action”).

Keith Jackson and “whoa Nellie” … along with his announcing partners Frank Broyles and Ara Parseghian.

All the big bowls played on New Year’s Day … the end of college football season.

Bill Flemming in a yellow ABC blazer with his preseason college football special that kicked off the season (I also miss his fifteen minute pregame show that aired on Saturdays during the pre-ESPN days).

Seeing a college band play at halftime on television. Funny thing is I couldn’t stand to watch the bands growing up, but now I’d rather listen to the music than the blather of all the studio hosts.

Bear Bryant leaning on a goal post with a sport coat slung over his shoulder.

Straight-on kickers.

Woody Hayes tearing up a yard-marker … or a ball cap … or anything else upon which he could lay hands.

Joe Paterno wearing those high waders … oh, wait a minute, thankfully I can still see him this fall.

The wishbone.

Tear-away jerseys.

Uwe von Schamann, an Oklahoma kicker, playfully conducting the Ohio State band in the Horseshoe before booting a last-second, game-winning field goal against the Buckeyes.

Jim Lampley, the first and best of the sideline reporters.

Barry Switzer grimacing on the sidelines and occasionally chewing out some dark-haired assistant coach with a moustache that always seemed to be standing next to him in the late 1970s.

Darrell Royal’s down-home humor (“he runs faster than small-town gossip”).

Notre Dame winning national championships (and hearing everybody complain about how the Irish always get the breaks in the polls).

Players jogging in front of the television cameras and saying their names and hometowns before the Saturday big game.

Oklahoma-Nebraska … on Thanksgiving Day.

Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Marcus Dupree, Mike Rozier, George Rogers, and all those other big, strong, and fast running backs of the early 1980s – never been another group that good come through that close together.

The great Chris Schenkel … and his sometimes partner Bud Wilkinson too. I’d even watch Chris Schenkel announce the pro bowlers tour on Saturdays.

Johnny Musso and Wilbur Jackson.

Joe Montana and chicken soup at the Cotton Bowl.

Sitting in the stands at Grant Field as a teenager watching the students throw fish wrapped up in newspaper.

Ties.

To paraphrase the great JP … it took me years to get those childhood souvenirs and I don’t want them to slip away from me.

The Passing Scene

Happy Independence Day weekend.

Whether you are hurrying to the lake or beach, getting the grill ready for a Monday feast, or simply reveling in the leisure days of summer … treasure the freedom afforded to us by the old Stars and Stripes and all that the flag embodies.

Here are a few notes on the passing scene as we march toward the dog days of August and the start of the college football season.

Thank Goodness That’s Over

Aren’t you glad the first half of the sports year is over? The year started with Auburn winning a BCS national championship even though many in college football suspected the title to be tainted because of allegations surrounding Heisman winning quarterback Cameron Newton. Cam may or may not have made a sham of NCAA rules (the association needs little help in doing that), but his seedy case dampened enthusiasm for his electrifying performances. Expect any rules-breaker henceforth to impose the Cam defense – “I didn’t know.” He and the Tigers seemed to get away with something … and the NCAA as a whole didn’t come across as clean.

Of course, Newton’s follies were soon overshadowed by the hyprocisy seeping out of Columbus, Ohio. At the start of the 2010 football season, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel had as secure a grip on his job as any football coach in America. By late spring of 2011, he was found to be a phony and – if not an outright cheater – at least a person susceptible to whiplash from turning his head away from all the nefarious elements of his program. Terrelle Pryor, poster man-child of the spoiled and entitled modern college star athlete, and multiple other Buckeyes were found to have sold memorabilia to local “merchants” in exchange for money and gifts (if you call tattoos a gift). Tressel found out about the transactions but hid his knowledge for the better part of a year, scheming behind the scenes to keep Pryor and his co-conspirators eligible long enough for OSU to win the Sugar Bowl. An ensuing investigation found that Buckeye football players lease cars at a rate that would make Hertz or Avis proud – of course the school found no evidence of wrongdoing in these setups with local auto dealers. Tressel finally got shown the door, and if Ohio State has a shred of dignity, Athletic Director Gene Smith and college president Gordon Gee should soon follow.

The looniness was not confined to the playing fields. A nut in Alabama apparently poisoned trees on the Auburn campus in retribution for Auburn beating back the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Not only did the fellow pollute the ground, he also polluted the airways by calling into the popoular Paul Finebaum Birmingham-based radio program to brag about the impending death of the trees. Yikes.

At the professional level, the NFL sits astride the sports world with nary a legitimate challenge to the league’s popularity in sight. So … the owners and players cannot decide how to divide up the multiple billions of revenue pouring in and the sides are in the midst of a protracted lockout that threatens the 2011 season. Should the season be lost, I’ll have found a new standard of stupidity with which to lecture on to my students.

Not to be outdone, the NBA allowed the good vibes produced by a terrific post-season to last … oh, a week or two … before announcing their own labor stalemate. The basketball owners and players are so far apart their beef looks like Biggie vs. Tupac compared to the NFL’s tastes great-vs-less filling. Predictions from people with much more knowledge than me: the NFL plays a full slate while the NBA misses the entire season. In this economy that’s a real smart move guys.

All those sports issues are really superfluous compared to true natural catastrophes that struck Tuscaloosa, Joplin, and Sendai (Japan).

Let’s get to the second half of this year … please.

Hooray for Rory

The recent U.S. Open hinted that the second half of the sports calendar for 2011 might be worth the wait. Rory McIlroy cruised to an 8-shot victory with a flowing, flawless swing, a putting stroke that rocked back and forth as smooth as a front porch swing, and an affable demeanor that was both confident and modest. The win came in the aftermath of Rory’s final round meltdown at The Masters, making this triumph all the more impressive. With Tiger Woods shelved, Phil Mickelson aging, and no other clearly dominant golfers on the horizon, McIlroy could fill the void nicely.

Professor’s Bookshelf

My summer reading schedule has been slower than normal due to a fairly heavy class load, but I finally got around to reading George Dorhmann’s acclaimed Play Their Hearts Out. The book is terrific. Dohrmann spent the better part of a decade chronicling a group of elite level youth basketball players, and his portrait of them and the whole big-time AAU/travel squad basketball scene should make you cringe with anger and sadness. Coaches paying the parents of 10-12 year old “phenoms” so the children join certain teams (yes you read that right – 10-12 year olds), shoe companies paying coaches high salaries to go out and recruit these elementary and middle schoolers in hopes that one day the children grown into the next LeBron or Kobe and sign endorsement deals with the shoe companies, “coaches” who don’t know an X from an O (and don’t care) pressing and running up the score in order to build the credentials of star players while never teaching the children fundamental skills that would benefit them when they are no longer the biggest or strongest on the court, parents of less skilled players paying for their children to play on elite teams in hopes of landing a college scholarship at some point (not realizing that the thousands of dollars would be better used actually funding the child’s college tuition and fees) … it is truly a sickening system and Dohrmann exposes all of it. You should read the book (but keep your blood pressure medication handy).

Have a great 4th of July.