What I Didn't Expect: Haley Woodard


I would be lying if I said I was prepared for what was to come at the first ever Game Changing Retreat, but the truth is that I simply was not. Yes, I did the pre-retreat homework, which consisted of reading a book from a specific list, reaching out to two other cohorts, contacting your mentor and one other mentor, and completing any other homework assigned by your mentor. But I still had no idea what to expect when I arrived. Luckily, my flight to Miami was with another cohort, Cameron Fenton. I was relieved that he was sitting right across from me so that I could make a friend early, until I saw what he was doing the whole plane ride... He was studying, memorizing, reading and re-reading every single bio of every single person who was going to be there. Of course I had read everyone’s bio more than twice, but I didn’t realize I was supposed to have them memorized to perfection. My exact thought was, “Crap! Everyone else is probably doing the same thing and I’m going to be behind. I better start re-reading too!!!” Which is exactly what I did. Yet, I couldn’t shake my nerves.

I got to the hotel, checked in at registration, and met my peers. I’d say my nerves didn’t go away until about 6:00 p.m. that first night- at dinner time. Everyone knows that food brings people together, and Chef Oscar definitely brought us closer with the pizza he whipped up for us (including my gluten-free crust). From then on, I realized that everyone else was a little nervous in their own way and it was okay because none of us knew what to expect. We all got comfortable, being uncomfortable, and I think that was one of the most important things I discovered about myself at the retreat. During every lecture, every activity, and every dinner of influence, I was learning. I might have been nervous or uncomfortable, but I quickly got used to that feeling and embraced the fact that I was there to learn.

Another lesson I learned about myself and my desired future career is that I am way more capable of achieving every goal I have. There are people already in my life who can help me accomplish my goals. On the first day of the retreat, Lynda Tealer gave a presentation about the on-campus resources available to student athletes. Whether they be from the academic center, or the marketing department or from the dean of your college, there are more opportunities for help and mentorship than what I thought. Shortly after her presentation, we broke out into small groups with our mentors. My mentor was Maria Taylor; however, she was not at the retreat yet due to the fact that she was on TV at the NBA draft the previous night. Instead, retreat director Corinne Milien stepped in for her and led our small group discussion with the help of another mentor, Jarrod Barnes. Throughout that discussion, I realized that I had resources and connections in the athletics media department to help me start my own segment, which would get me a ton of hours and practice being on air. After all, I do want to be a sports broadcaster. Anyways, when I realized this I quickly reached out to someone who works for the media department at OSU and asked if doing something like this would be possible. His answer in short- YES!

I told Corinne about what I had done and how she helped me to realize I should take the initiative. I don’t think I could ever thank her enough for that. Between Corinne and Maria, I began to understand that yes, it will take a lot of hard work to hopefully be where Maria Taylor is one day, but also that it’s possible and more in my reach than I realize.

Haley Woodard,

2018 Cohort Member, Aspiring Sports Broadcaster