By: Damon Markiewicz
The Springfield College Athletic Leadership Graduate Program hosted its annual leadership series for the 2023 fall semester on Thursday, December 7, 2023, in the Cleveland E. and Phyllis B. Dodge Room located in the Flynn Campus Union. This semester's presentation was titled, "The Power of Networking: Building Your Career, Connections, and Community in Sports."
The evening featured three alumni panelists in Sean Quirk ’95, associate athletic director at Endicott College; Amanda Kulas, G’21, track and field assistant coach at Bowdoin College; and Robert Accorsi, G’80, Springfield College faculty emeritus from the Department of Sport Management and Recreation.
“Being able to network is such an important tool for all professionals, especially when students are looking to make that jump into the professional world,” explained Accorsi. “Events like this give our students the opportunity to meet with contacts they can network with, while also learning some important pieces of advice they can use. When networking, we stressed to the students to be authentic, and be themselves, and if they do that, they will be fine.”
The lecture included two parts, and started with Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Director of the Athletic Leadership Master’s Program Jill Kochanek, PhD, moderating a panel discussion with the special guests. The panelists provided their insights on developing networking skills and effective practices for sport coaches, administrators, and other practitioners.
“We are very fortunate to have such a strong alumni network that is filled with alumni who are always dedicated to assisting our students and the College,” explained Kochanek. “The attendees were able to learn so much from all three of our panelists as they all continue on their educational and professional journeys.”
The group of speakers represented a network of professionals with diverse backgrounds in coaching, athletic administration, and sport management at the interscholastic, intercollegiate, and professional levels. Accorsi, Quirk and Kulas offered meaningful, contextually relevant advice that students can relate to and utilize in their academic and professional careers.
Following the panel discussion, part two of the night consisted of interactive breakout sessions that allowed attendees the opportunity to rotate to each panelist and learn about and build specific networking skills in a smaller group setting.
“The Springfield College alumni network is special, and current students have the chance to make contacts with people who know what it’s like to have that degree from the College,” explained Quirk. “Springfield College alumni want to help Springfield College students.”
Not only did the evening allow for students to network, but it presented an opportunity for the guests to connect with fellow graduates as well.
“This was a great opportunity because it not only allowed alumni to connect with students, but it also gave fellow alumni a chance to chat,” concluded Quirk. “I was able to get to know Amanda (Kulas) on the panel, and we were able to talk during the evening. I know that if I have any questions regarding track and field, whether it’s working with our coaches, or potentially hiring someone down the road, it’s a good feeling to know I have a Springfield College contact I can check in with.”
Launched in the spring of 2011, the Athletic Leadership Series is held each semester and alternates a focus between high school and intercollegiate athletics. The MEd/MS in Athletic Leadership at Springfield College equips students with the knowledge and skills to develop as inclusive, equity-minded leaders who create empowering sport experiences and positively impact the sport community.