SE: Student-Athletes Learn from ESPN Great

Before Rosalyn Durant, the senior vice president of College Networks/Programming at ESPN, spoke at K-State’s 16th Annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media last Thursday, she sat down to chat with Wildcat student-athletes.

Durant engaged with nearly 35 student-athletes last Wednesday and shared what she has learned during her 17 exciting years in the sports media industry. 

“I was blown away by the student-athletes,” Durant said with a smile on her face. “The quality of the questions they asked was tremendous. They presented themselves incredibly well. I was impressed with how they came up and introduced themselves; they told me their name and their major before they told me their sport, and that says something about them. They didn’t have to be there, rather they wanted to be there. They were there because they were students who wanted more information and wanted to learn.”

Durant has held the title of Senior Vice President, College Networks, Programming at ESPN since May 2015 and is currently in charge of overseeing and setting the strategic programming direction for ESPNU, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. 

After interning with the company while still a student at the University of South Carolina, she began her career with ESPN upon graduation in 1999 and has been there ever since. 

“It was a great experience because she has so much experience herself in, not only the world of athletics, but also in the business world and in life in general,” said senior women’s golfer Scotland Preston, who is a dual major in public relations and economics. “I’m so glad I had the experience to meet her and hear her speak.”

Taking place in the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center of the Vanier Family Football Complex, Durant answered any and all of the questions student-athletes brought to the table. 

Sara Savatovic, a senior thrower for the K-State track and field team and public relations major, had a good one: “As a student-athlete, it’s hard for us to get internships and opportunities to know about a professional career, so I’m wondering what advantages do we have, and where do we start?”

Without hesitation, Durant turned to Savatovic and answered her question. 

"Your sport is your internship,” Durant said to Savatovic. “When I have people come in and talk to me about job positions, I look for the student-athletes because I know that those folks know how to work with a team. I know they have work ethic, they don’t mind working hard. I know they’re used to getting up early and staying up late. I know there’s a leadership skill that comes with them that I don’t have to teach and that is incredibly attractive. I think being a student-athlete puts you in a great position.”

Durant said if a student-athlete has the opportunity for an internship or a networking experience, they should go for it. However if they can’t, they should never undersell themselves or feel under qualified simply because they are student-athletes. 

“I like meeting people who inspire me,” said Savatovic after the chat. “For us as student-athletes, we don’t always have opportunities because we’re busy with practices and competing, so I think it was amazing for us to see someone who has done so much – someone who is a role model and who we can learn from.”

As a freshman offensive lineman on the Wildcat football team, thinking about the future can be a little daunting. Glenn Williams is also majoring in public relations, and hearing from Durant gave him an entirely new, fresh look at his career path. 

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I was really looking forward to meeting her,” said Williams, who held a sheet of paper covered, front and back with writing. “I wound up taking notes on both sides of this piece of paper. Talking to her really put me at ease. I’m looking forward to the future, I’m always looking forward to it, but this put me at ease knowing that I can give myself an advantage as a student-athlete. That’s what this Q&A session inspired me to do.”

Following Wednesday’s meeting with the student athletes, Durant spent Wednesday evening with K-State Athletics staff before speaking at the Huck Boyd lecture on Thursday morning. 

K-State kept her busy during her visit to Manhattan, and, along with meeting with student-athletes and speaking at this year’s Huck Boyd Lecture, Durant also spoke with K-State Athletics Director John Currie before the Ahearn Fund’s National Leadership Circle, spoke with a panel of prominent sports writers about social media and attended Thursday evening’s football game.

Overall, from the people to downtown Poyntz to the football game, Durant said she enjoyed her time in the Little Apple – but there is one thing that really stood out to her: Coach Bill Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success. 

“I loved how they are publicly displayed and that student-athletes walking through the athletics complex on any given day have them in front of them,” said Durant. “I think it’s so powerful when you put your goals in writing, and the way that they have so prominently been displayed to student-athletes and to others, it makes a statement.  There were a few that really stood out to me, and hearing from the athletes, it sounded like everyone has their own personal favorite. I loved that. It’s very, very impressive.”

Durant said her personal favorite goal of Coach Snyder’s was goal No. 12 – No Self Limitations, because it’s a goal she has lived out through her exciting career with ESPN. 

 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.