SAAC Hosts 4th Annual Chippewas Connections Conference

WATCH: Keynote Speech (Reggie Allen) | C3 Feature

MOUNT PLEASANT – More than 100 junior and senior student-athletes took a step to prepare themselves for the next step in their lives after collegiate athletics by attending the fourth annual Chippewas Connections Conference on Monday, hosted by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Embodying the spirit of “Together We Are Maroon,” student-athletes made valuable connections with 13 CMU athletics alumni who care about the CMU athletic community and came back to Mount Pleasant to share their wisdom and knowledge with the current class. 

“It allows us as student athletes to see ourselves in the future and what it might look like for us, and to see how people who were once in our shoes are now using what they learned as student-athletes in their careers,” Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president and senior cross country and track and field standout Raeanne Lohner said.

“Our hope is that student-athletes have confidence going out in to the workforce saying, 'Okay, I've seen people who are successful and I can do it to.' Also, being able to build a strong community within Central Michigan athletics with a tradition of coming back and giving back further unifies the athletic department.”

Former CMU football player and 2011 Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Reggie Allen gave the keynote speech, encouraging each student-athlete to take the characteristics and traits they've gained through their athletic endeavors – perseverance, commitment, hard work – and apply them to finding a job and having a career.

Throughout his presentation, Allen encouraged the student-athletes to think about where they want to go with their lives, how they're going to get there and why they want to go there.

Following Allen's keynote presentation, the student-athletes participated in break-out sessions with Allen and other CMU athletics alumni. Such topics as preparing for job interviews, finding jobs, making a career and other pertinent life skills were covered in these sessions.

“It gives current student-athletes networking opportunities to connect with former student-athletes,” associate director of student-athlete services Tera Albrecht said. “It allows them to get that contact information so they know someone in their field or a field that is interesting to them. They're able to gain that mentorship right now as a student-athlete.”

The following former student-athletes were in attendance:

Reginald Allen (Football) – Keynote Speaker
Independent Business Consultant, Atlanta

Julie Bouck-Maxon (Softball)
Teacher/Coach, West Intermediate School

Matt Coffey (Football)
Faculty, CMU Finance and Law Department

Mike Decker (Football)
Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC

Amber Gaskill-Mayhew (Gymnastics)
PT, Part Owner, Family Physical Therapy

Soji Jibowu (Track)
Territory Product Manager, Pentax Medical

Vershaun Jones (Women’s Basketball)
Global Chief Operations Officer / Global Technical Service Manager, Magni Industries

Meg Lewis-Atwood (Field Hockey)
Kindergarten Teacher, Commonwealth Academy Charter School

Gina Mazzolini (Volleyball, W. Basketball)
Assistant Director, Michigan High School Athletics Association

Jeff Nowaczyk (Baseball)
Assistant Baseball Coach, Northwood University

Jay Phillion (Baseball)
Chief Purchasing & Quality Control Officer and Executive Vice President, TI Automotive Systems

Eric (Rick) Plate (Football)
Plant Manager, International Automotive Components

David Shooltz (Baseball)
Market President of Great Lakes Bay Region and Market Manger of Business Banking, Fifth Third Bank


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