For student-athletes attending Boise State, the emphasis on personal development extends well beyond the playing field these days.
It is a well-known fact that the playing window for even the best athletes is limited. According to the NCAA's website, there are approximately 480,000 athletes that get the chance to complete at the collegiate level. However, less than one percent of them actually go on to play professionally.
That means student-athletes must be prepared for life after the final pitch, snap, pin, shot, dive or tumble. In order to help, the Bronco Athletic Department is attempting to provide their players with every tool available.
Their goal: Give student-athletes the access they need to come up with a successful game-plan off the field.
"We talk about experience in the athletic department." Boise State head football coach Bryan Harsin recalled. "Well, lets really do it. Lets give them an experience."
So this summer, Boise State officials organized a weekly hour-long session called "Real Life Wednesdays."
"I've got the chance to talk with some other coaches that have done things like this," Harsin explained, "and I felt like this is something that we need in our program."
With the help of academic advisor Sara Swanson and senior associate athletic director of external affairs Brad Larrondo, Bronco student-athletes have routinely packed the Gene Bleymaier Football Complex to listen and learn from some of the most impactful and successful leaders in our community.
Over the last couple of months, representatives from AFT22 Enterprises, Albertsons, Corey Barton Homes, TSheets, and Zions Bank have visited the Broncos.
On the final "RLW" meeting of the summer, Idaho Power CEO Darrel Anderson and Fisher's CEO Chris Taylor addressed student-athletes on Wednesday. Each shared a lesson that could be applied as quickly as the players could access their notes.
"I do have my notes," Boise State senior tight end Jake Roh said, as he opened up the notebook he was holding in his right hand.
"What you can be best at in your world, what you have a deep passion for, and what you can make money doing," Roh read, referencing a part of the lesson that was most applicable to him.
"Every single time I've listened to one of our speakers come in here," added Harsin, "I've picked up two or three things that I take right back into my office, write down, and we're going to use throughout the season."
Initially the program was just for the football team, but now the who's who of the Boise State athletic department show up voluntarily. Basketball standouts Alex Hobbs and Chandler Hutchison were in attendance on Wedesday, as were members of the women's volleyball team and gymnastics squad. Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton and quarterback Brett Rypien each sat and took notes, along with some athletes that have yet to even play in a single game, like freshman linebacker Braden Boyd.
"I come all the time. We get a really good turnout as you can see," said Roh. "I think everyone really enjoys it."
"I think it is good because it sparks those conversations that are away from sports. Lets talk about life, lets talk about what you're interested in outside of football," Roh added. "It's good to have that interaction."
"That's exactly what we want," said Harsin.
Real Life Wednesdays present 18-to-22 year-old student-athletes with a unique opportunity; to interact and network with the CEO's of Idaho's largest companies face-to-face.
In some cases though, the message doesn't just inspire student-athletes to apply themselves for the future, it also reminds them of what they currently have working in their favor.
"I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg with this Real Life Wednesday," said Harsin. "You're developing yourself for opportunities beyond the game. That's really what it's all about."
"Like a lot of these CEO's say then they come in: 'Surround yourself with good people.' I think this program has done that," Roh said.
"We're heading in the right direction," added Harsin. "We're actually doing what we say we're going to do and I think there's a lot of value that's coming out of it."
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