By: Erin Madden

BEREA, Ohio - Student-athlete. The two words go hand-in-hand at Baldwin Wallace University and at colleges and universities throughout the country.

For Yellow Jackets, the athlete part has been on hold due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The Ohio Athletic Conference cancelled the spring sports season on March 16 and another domino fell on July 24 when the OAC cancelled fall sports. Now, the hopes of returning to the course, the court, the field, the mat, the pool and the track have shifted to 2021.

Despite the lack of competition, the student part persists. Yes, instruction and classrooms now have a different look and feel but the students’ goals remain the same: graduate, land the dream job and begin a successful career.

Thankfully for student-athletes, the Brown & Gold Club and Career Services adapted to the times and are still ready and available to tackle those goals, even in the midst of a pandemic.

One of the best annual events for current and former student-athletes alike is the Career Captains Night. First held back in 2018, the Career Captains Night is a collaborative effort between the Brown & Gold Club and Career Services where current student-athletes connect with BW athletic alumni about internships, job opportunities and career paths in various industries. The event fits the mission of both the Brown & Gold Club as well as Career Services.

“Brown & Gold Club values include sharing stories of success, helping current Yellow Jackets, volunteering and promoting opportunities,” said Christie Davenport ‘01, director of alumni engagement. “The Brown & Gold Club community is specifically focused on connecting our student-athletes with those alumni for networking and mentorship opportunities, career guidance as well as to share similar experiences as student-athletes.”

Those opportunities and connections will still happen in 2020, albeit virtually, this time as the Brown & Gold Club Career Community Meet-Up via Blackboard Collaborate on October 5. The digital meet-up will take place instead of the annual in-person Career Captains event.

“We are obviously disappointed that we can’t hold this event in person, but lucky to have some amazing people and resources at BW to be making it happen,” said head men’s lacrosse coach Trey Keeley, who has been involved with the Career Captains event since its inception.

Another avenue for collaboration between current and former student-athletes is through the Yellow Jackets Career Connections Network on the Wisr platform, where the Brown & Gold Club has its own specific community of student-athletes, alumni and staff.

“We’ve had wonderful engagement from our BW athlete alumni since launching the Yellow Jackets Career Connections Network,” said former women's tennis player Danielle Rueger '13, assistant director of career connections and digital engagement. “Using this network, we’ve hosted a number of events that have involved BW athlete alumni sharing their expertise and experience.”

As a head coach, Keeley can attest to the value gained when current student-athletes are able to engage with their alumni counterparts.

“There are so many skills that our student-athletes are building here at BW that are going to make them great employees and allow them to enjoy purposeful careers,” Keeley said. “When our varsity alumni connect with our current athletes, they help to improve their confidence in the skills that are unique to the student-athlete, such as elite communication skills, time management, grit, growth mindset and a team-first mentality.”

Whether digitally or in-person, the Brown & Gold Club and Career Services look to continue serving Yellow Jacket student-athletes and setting them up for success.

“One hope is to continue the collaborative partnership between the Brown & Gold Club, Career Services and Athletics through outreach and programming in order to provide our student-athletes with networking and mentoring opportunities as well as life-long connections,” Davenport said.

Student-athletes interested in the Brown & Gold Club Career Community Meet-Up on October 5 can find details on Handshake and on the Yellow Jackets Career Connections Network.