My Time at the NCAA Career in Sports Forum - Craig McPhail, Lees-McRae College

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Lees-McRae College was represented by Vice President of Athletics and Club Sports Craig McPhail at the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis, Ind. last weekend. McPhail served as a panelist at the Forum, which consisted of over 200 current student-athletes and NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipients with an interest in working within the sports industry. 

In his own words, this is what McPhail had to say about attending the Career in Sports Forum.

How would you describe your experience at the Career in Sports Forum? 

Extremely rewarding! Being able to share vital information regarding various career paths in intercollegiate athletics, such as coaching, administration, volunteering, networking, etc., with student-athletes was amazing.

What was it like to be a panelist at an event like the Career in Sports Forum? 

In addition to being honored with the chance to tell my story, I also took pride in sharing what we as business professionals look for in our potential employees in college athletics.

I thought it was also important as a panelist to let the student-athletes know that everyone’s story is different and that there is no ‘right’ path to excel on as you start your career journey. However, I let them know that it is paramount to be engaged and involved on their campuses while showing high character, drive and passion, which would show their commitment to the greater good and add value to their personal brand.

What would you say was the most educational part of the Forum? 

Learning from the different presenters about how intertwined intercollegiate athletics really are and how each branch is a valuable asset to the collective. Bowie State University Athletic Director Clyde Doughty, Jr. also mentioned that the moment is now, so you must capitalize on the interactions you have everyday.

These moments really resonated with me, but the most educational part may have been interacting with the young people at the Forum. Their experience, personality and poise leads me to believe intercollegiate athletics will be in the hands of some very incredible leaders over the next 25 years.

Did you learn anything about yourself that you may have not known before attending the Forum?

I should always be ready to learn. There are many steps to being successful, and willingness to share and listen will never be undervalued characteristics.

Did you meet anyone that made an impact on you during the Forum?

Yes, Clyde Doughty, Jr. from Bowie State University. Clyde and I spent a great deal of time talking about the role we play on campus as leaders of small college athletic departments. A wonderful discussion we had was about the art of understanding people and the emotional intelligence it takes to help certain individuals reach their maximum level of success.

What will you take back from the Forum and implement into your athletic department and/or campus community in regards to careers in athletics?

I have already scheduled meetings with our sport administration faculty to discuss more involved internships, which several members of our athletic department will lead. I want to take what I learned at the Forum and give our young people at Lees-McRae the opportunity to be guided by professionals in various athletic departments. The internships will be based in a variety of fields, including athletic communications, compliance, game operations, and marketing. By doing this, I believe it will better prepare our students for life after the game.

What are you final thoughts on the Career in Sports Forum?

Overall, I found the Career in Sports Forum gratifying to be a part of and energizing to see the personalities, which furthered my commitment to making a difference in the lives of our student-athletes. 

The Forum is a great platform for young people to gain significant insight on careers they have great experience and passion for. This is an opportunity to enhance and elevate the young person and provide us as administrators with quality colleagues.