Oregon State University

Professional Showcase brings current and former OSU athletes together

By Justin Fisher, Director of Development, Oregon State Athletic Department

from left: Obum Gwachum, Anthony Watkins, Brian Watkins, Devon Kell and  Kevin Cummings. Back to camera: Kurt Van MeterPast and present Oregon State student-athletes joined other Portland business leaders at the first annual Student-Athlete Professional Showcase held on the Nike Campus in Beaverton on May 18.  This new networking event gave members of OSU athletic teams a glimpse of the job market while visiting with those who have experienced the transition from collegiate athletics to the business world.  

Less than one percent of collegiate student-athletes have the opportunity to participate in professional athletics and, therefore, most are considering their career options after graduation. 

The time and travel demands of collegiate athletics often put student-athletes at a significant disadvantage when entering the job market.  While most OSU students spend four years preparing for career placement by working at summer internships and building a professional network, the competitive nature of Division I athletics has become a full calendar year commitment.  The Student-Athlete Professional Showcase provided a unique opportunity for student-athletes to network and start planning for their futures.

“We were able to get a team of ten student-athletes representing various sports programs and all majors to participate together and learn how to create a business plan,” stated Senior Associate Athletic Director, Marianne Vydra. “With guidance from Dr. Ray Brooks (Varsity O, Men’s Swimming/Diving ’73) and Dr. Colleen Bee (College of Business) the students met once a week, often juggling busy schedules and post-season competition.  In the end what emerged was a group of professionally prepared young people ready to offer their insights on Taylor Kavanaugh’s business on stage at the Nike Campus. 

“Recruiting student-athletes for the networking portion of the evening was done through the Athletic Department’s Leadership Institute.  Many of these students had attended and received job offers from previous networking events held throughout the year in Corvallis,” continued Vydra. “Some of the students were new and eager to learn and grow from the experience.   We know this can be a first class, powerful event each year that allows our former and current student athletes to make extraordinary connections that serve our state in the future.  I imagine the programming will evolve as more alumni and current student-athletes get involved.”

Current and former OSU athletes mix it up at the Professional Showcase, held May 18 at Nike's Beaverton campusAlso featured at the event was Quarter 4 Sports, a company founded by former OSU football player, Taylor Kavanaugh (’10). Quarter 4 Sports is a full service production company created with the aim of integrating high quality production values and innovative talent. 

Joined by fellow alums and business partners, Matt Wilcox (’10), Jim Langlois (’86), and Tim Misenhimer the Quarter 4 Team shared how their OSU experience has served as a catalyst for their young company.   

"Our team was extremely honored to be a part of the May 18 event at Nike. The essence of this event is the very reason that Quarter 4 is even in business. The OSU athletic department and the power of its growing network have been the incubator and birthplace of our work. Our hope is that Quarter 4 is yet another example of the importance of investing in our student-athletes and these events that set them up for success," said co-owner Kavanaugh. 

Quarter 4 Sports worked with a team of student athletes during the spring term to develop a comprehensive business plan to help foster sustainable growth in the film industry.  The team was comprised of Kyle Beverley (Baseball, ‘12), Michael Hann (Crew, ‘12), Chris Harms (Soccer, ‘13), Andrea Harvey (Crew, ‘12), and Leslie Mak (Gymnastics, ‘12), and only two of these (Mak and Harms) represented the College of Business.

After the event, Andrea Harvey commented that “working with Taylor and all of the other student-athletes involved in this project was a significant learning experience. As one of the non-business majors in the group, it was a welcome challenge to learn the ins and outs of such a promising business venture. We were so excited to be able to support Quarter Four Sports by providing a risk management plan as this already successful company continues to expand. With every new endeavor, there were a lot of challenges to be faced; many of them inherent to being a student-athlete. But we are all really proud of the work we were able to do together and the finished product presented at the Student-Athlete Professional Showcase.  This was truly an incredible opportunity not only to learn how to create a business plan, but also to converse with influential members of the Portland Varsity O network and business community.”

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