Utah State Track & Field Student-Athlete Michala Zilkey Takes Part in NCAA Career in Sports Forum
Junior Michala Zilkey
Junior Michala Zilkey
June 6, 2018

LOGAN, Utah - Utah State women’s track & field student-athlete Michala Zilkey was selected to participate in the 2018 NCAA Career in Sports Forum. The program took place May 31-June 3 at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis, Ind.

A committee from within the NCAA membership selected Zilkey to attend the ninth annual event. Participants who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in sports, and who are viewed as leaders on their campus, were invited to apply to attend the forum after a nomination by athletics administrators at their respective schools.

“The grounds of the NCAA were gorgeous, and the building was remarkably built,” Zilkey said. “It was impressive to wander around in the free time, especially in the hall of fame. Pat Summit’s room was especially impactful to me.”

Many current and past attendees are members of their Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the student-athlete voice within the NCAA governance structure. The selection committee is comprised of administrators and coaches within the NCAA.

“I applied to the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, because, like many other athletes, sports have made an incredible impact on my life,” Zilkey said. “I was interested in the jobs offered at the NCAA national offices, as well as what it took to be an athletic director, coach or academic-athletic advisor. I was surprised that I was accepted, but also excited because (assistant athletics director for student-athlete academic services) Amber Rae (Childers) had such remarkable reviews about it. The forum ended up impacting me much more than anticipated.”

The Career in Sports Forum brings together more than 200 student-athletes to learn and explore potential careers in sports, with the primary focus on college athletics. This unique, four-day forum is designed to assist student-athletes in charting their career paths, as well as provide an opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals.

The cutting-edge topics covered by industry experts included how personal values intersect with career opportunities, how behavioral styles impact individual effectiveness, the key professional and career development information to assist with transition from a student-athlete to a professional, and the role of the college coach or athletics administrator.

“Our sessions were focused on a few different areas,” Zilkey said. “We had an emphasis on networking and finding our ‘why,’ essentially the purpose behind our end goals that would continually motivate us to improve. There were multiple panels that allowed attendees to ask questions of people ranging from current interns in the NCAA to athletic directors at different levels within the NCAA.

“One of the most interesting activities was finding our leadership style using the DiSC assessment. It was unique because it taught us how to modify our personal style to better interact with other divisions of people. Another enlightening activity was on the first day of the activities, where we had a ‘job fair’ that allowed us to interact with 25-30 different divisions of people working in the NCAA, from compliance to governance, and developmental leadership.”

Zilkey’s favorite activity during the NCAA Career in Sports Forum was the DiSC assessment.

“Mostly because I found it to be the thing that was immediately applicable,” Zilkey said. “It showed me how I interact with others, and made suggestions to better them in my future. This will help me create deeper relationships with my teammates, friends, and how to be better in the various leadership roles I hold.

“The most remarkable thing about the NCAA Career in Sports forum was the incredible energy brought by the student-athletes. I have never been a member of a group so passionate about their purposes, and so determined to achieve their goals. It was truly remarkable to see such a diverse group united to reach a common goal. I have no doubts that the student-athletes at that forum are about to achieve great things, and I can’t wait to follow them and hear about their successes.”

Zilkey just wrapped up her junior season at Utah State. She placed sixth in the discus with a career-best throw of 48.63 meters (159-6) and 11th in the hammer with a mark of 49.35 meters (161-11) at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships in Clovis, Calif.

During the 2018 indoor season, Zilkey placed 18th in the weight throw with a mark of 15.12 meters (49-7.75) at the MW Indoor Championships.

What career path does the physical education major want to take after she graduates from Utah State?

“Hopefully, I will be able to help develop female leadership in sports, which is currently a new field,” said the native of Gig Harbor, Wash. “Ideally, I would like to work with high school or collegiate female athletes on developing their leadership style through sport and character education. I feel that there isn’t enough representation of females in the upper echelon of athletics, such as coaches and athletic directors, and I want to help young women achieve their goals by giving them the skills to do so.”

There is no cost for application or registration for the forum and costs associated with lodging, travel and meals for participants are covered by the NCAA.

Fans can follow the Utah State track & field programs at twitter.com/USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at instagram.com/USUTF_XC. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.




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