Student View: Diamond Smith at NACDA

Thanks to the Winning Edge, I recently had the privilege of traveling to Dallas, TX to attend the 2016 NACDA Convention. NADCA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) is the premier conference for anyone who currently works or has a strong interest in collegiate athletics. I arrived in Dallas on Sunday, June 12th, and later that evening, I attended the CoSIDA networking reception at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, hosted by ESPN. At the party, I had the pleasure of meeting Chevonne Mansfield, Director of Communications for American Athletic Conference. Chevonne and I had connected prior to NACDA via text, and she was a huge help in making my first NACDA experience a success. I also met Rob Knox, Associate Director of Media Relations for Towson University. I loved his spirit and passion for helping others and although his focus is in media relations, he gladly connected me with three of his colleagues who currently work in the compliance field.

On Monday, sessions officially began and the atmosphere in the hotel was amazing! I was blown away by the number of college athletic administrators in attendance from across the country!  One of the components to NACDA that I loved the most was the Young Professionals session. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories and words of wisdom that the presenters and panelists shared with us.  This was my favorite part of the conference.

Another highlight of attending NACDA was meeting Dr. Carla Williams, Deputy Director of Athletics for University of Georgia. We had a chance to sit down during the Learfield Awards Luncheon, and discussed many things, from her background and rise up at Georgia, to graduate school, family backgrounds, and general advice about the college sports industry. I was really impressed with how forthcoming she was and how much she has accomplished in this industry, especially as an African-American female.

Although I was initially registered as a member of NACMA (National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators) portion, I found myself attending other sessions such as CoSIDA’s panel “Finding Your Voice”, and ICLA’s lecture on “Building Your Personal Brand”. My goal in going to NACDA was to listen and ask questions from people in different facets of collegiate athletics such as communications, or licensing, not just in compliance.

After some initial apprehension in attending NACDA, I can confidently say that going was one of the best decisions I’ve made professionally! I look forward to attending next year in Orlando!