So, I was invited to this Sports & Business Symposium by Arthur Jones II. He told me some brief information about the event that peaked my interest and made it a must to attend the first annual event. What had me so intrigued is that this event would not only provide a panel who have achieved success behind the scenes to professional sports but to educate young teens about the trials and tribulations the sports world has to offer. Even in the program synopsis, it discusses how "98.8% of college athletes don't go pro so 'What are former athletes going to do when the ball deflates for good?'
Blake Bozeman and Brian Inge were the two responsible for putting together this event. I spoke with Blake on how the event came to be and he said "he started a nonprofit geared to the program's message called the pivot group... and with my friendship with Brian and through his experience with event planning and doing tournaments it was natural cohesiveness to bring the two visions together..." As you walked in the event, there was a video edited by Blake was playing where various personalities such as Stephen A. Smith and Roland Martin along with excerpts of the 30 for 30’s Broke discussing how to sustain wealth, how not to lose your career earnings and more. Seeing panelists and other symposium attendees arrive at the event, glued to the video, making small talk about it to others nearby set the standard that something good would come from the event.
The panelists: Justin Brown, Daryl Davis, Denise Harrington, Monique Lewis, Enrico McClearly II and Keith Williams started to get in their seats as Bishop McNamara student athletes walked in along with Blake and Brian beginning to moderate the event. They let each panelist briefly introduce themselves and then the moderators took turns asking each panelist a question based on their story.
I think what made this event so special is that each panelist had a memorable takeaway from the event. For example, Brian asked Enrico, an attorney and athletic advisor, to name some things that you wish you did in college that would have helped you. Enrico didn’t hold back as he explained to everyone in the audience not to be “too cool” or be curious and even go to church. You could see certain kids in the audience begin to connect with his story. Justin Brown who actually attended Bishop McNamara and went on to play D1 football at Notre Dame spoke and immediately he was able to connect with the kids because he starting point is the exact same as them. Justin told the kids to set goals but more importantly work every day doing something to obtain that goal.
The event continued to move along as Brian asked Monique about her journey and she told everyone how all her focus was on basketball and it didn’t change until she tore her ACL her senior season. One thing that connected with everyone is when she said “plan for what you want, prepare like if you don’t get it.” Blake then asked Keith about how to avoid pitfalls as an athlete. Now with the DMV area being known for producing a lot of talent that he has played a part in such as Kevin Durant and Markelle Fultz, he has a front row view of success. With that being said, the DMV area has also had their fair share of high profiled failures who should have went on to become global superstars instead of local legends. Keith spoke on Michael Beasley, who is still in the league but at one-time he was considered a better prospect than KD but he never stayed focused. He even mentioned area legends such as Stacy Robinson and Schuye LaRue. His message to the kids was to stay grounded, be mindful that one wrong move can change everything. Something I noticed is that after he finished speaking, a kid had to go home went up to him said thank you and proceeded to leave the symposium.
Brian asked Daryl who is the CEO of the Parrish Group LLC, what three things do you look for when you are hiring. He told people in order, he is looking for work ethic, self-motivation and then education/intellect. Daryl mentioned to everyone how attention to detail is key because he had to recently fire someone who did not have keen attention to detail skills.
As the first round of questions were coming to an end, Blake asked Denise to explain how being an African American woman has impacted you in your field of work. Denise, a CEO of DMH consulting, mentioned how she was Pre-Title IX, a rule that was made for woman to play competitive sports. She also said that when working with notable clientele not to let their celebrity overshadow you. She told a story of how she had an interaction with Tiger Woods where she was asked to spend the day with him and provide expert media training. His personal time didn’t want her involved at all but she persisted and was able to lock in and provide him with some much-needed pointers. She added that what she told him that day would have been beneficial when he went was arrested earlier this year.
After the first round, people in the audience were able to asked questions along with the panelists giving their final remarks. The event was only a few hours but it gave you a feeling of yearning for more. I was able to speak with Dominic Rowe, who was one of the people in the audience, about his take on the event itself. He told me his biggest takeaway from the event “Goal. Plan. Execute. You also have to have patience and great work ethic.”
Before I left, I caught up with Brian Inge to get his perspective on how the symposium went, his biggest takeaway and what’s next for the symposium itself. With Blake telling me that people were already asking for another symposium saying “don’t wait till next year”, Brian added that “we plan on doing this again in the next two or three months, trying to reach every school in the county and even the state. It takes a village to raise a child and programs like this help push our kids further in the future.”
With the success of the first annual Sports & Business Career Transitioning Symposium event, its certain that the sequel will have an even bigger impact on the area because the buzz from this event will generate more youth to attend the event causing for a bigger impact on the DMV area. My biggest takeaway from the event is something Daryl Davis said during his final thoughts.
“Pray on it like you depended on God, but work on it like it depends on you”