Blackburn baseball duo attends NCAA function

Blackburn College baseball players Jared Jones and Vinnie Birk were selected to attend the annual NCAA Career In Sports Forum. The two were among 277 Division I, II and III student athletes who attended the event, which took place June 8-11 in Indianapolis, Ind.

The student-athletes from across the country were chosen by a committee of administrators from member institutions, conference offices, and affiliate organizations. This forum is designed to help student-athletes with their professional career paths and enlighten students on the career options and future decisions they will need to make.

“I loved the opportunity to network and meet other student-athletes in the NCAA that have the same interests as I do. Everyone there was just really cool and it was such a great experience,” Jones said.

During Jones’ time at the conference he had the opportunity to meet the NCAA President, Dr. Mark Emmert.

“That was probably my favorite part as well as talking to Louise McCleary, the Director of Division III Athletics,” Jones said. “It was interesting to hear her opinions on things and bounce ideas off of each other.”

Jones, who is from Mitchell, Ind., hopes to put to use the information he learned at the forum as manager of the Athletics Department at Blackburn, one of only seven work colleges in the nation.

“I’ll definitely use the leadership tactics I learned in Indy as well as some community service and networking skills. It changed my outlook as manager for the better.”

Vinnie Birk, from Swansea and entering his junior year at Blackburn, was unsure about the forum beforehand.

“I was kind of nervous and not really positive about what it was about heading into the forum, but then I got there and that changed very quickly,” he said.

“I had the time of my life and it was such an amazing experience. Every single person there was just phenomenal. I got to meet Division I football players, Division II hockey players, and so many more. The thing that was cool about that was that no matter what Division they played in or sport they played, they didn’t act like they were better than anyone. Everyone was so down to earth and just awesome.”

Birk still keeps in touch with students athletes he met at the event.

“It’s crazy because I’ll be talking to my roommate who was a soccer player from New York, or another baseball player from California, or a volleyball player from Massachusetts, or even a rower from North Carolina! I love it,” Birk said.

Blackburn Athletic Director Angie Morenz said, “It was a great opportunity for students to network and share experiences with other student-athletes around the country.” Morenz hopes to continue sending Blackburn Beaver student-athletes to the NCAA Career In Sports Forum in the future. “There is a maximum of ten student-athletes per school per year for the Forum, so our goal is to have ten of our student-athletes send in applications and hopefully get accepted.”