Game Changing Retreat Experience: Cam Fenton


All who have elevated to a position of influence once had mentors and supporters along the way. They remember looking to the future and staring at a massive mountain that seemed impossible to climb. With initiative and an extended hand to help guide them, that mountain became less intimidating and the summit become more near. The 2018 Game Changing Retreat was the ultimate boost to help me climb the mountain. It was a four-day experience constantly filled with hands reaching down, to help me and my fellow cohort members up our own mountain. We were touching the the hands that will launch our journey through the sports industry.

For this to be the first year of the Winning Edge Game Changing Retreat, the staff blew it out of the water. They created an environment that promoted synergy and strong relationship development. Although we were assigned to one of six mentors, we established strong bonds with each individual mentor throughout the four days.

The Dinners of Influence brought out impactful figures in today’s booming sports industry. They were individuals who could easily fill thousands of seats with their presence alone but they took time to have a sit-down dinner and speak with a handful of young adults, who aspire to one day be in their shoes. Their guidance was paramount and it was reassuring to hear them mention they were once in our shoes. Having been where we are, they continue the process of paying it forward.

On top of the relationships that were formed, this was an educational environment. We were given the keys to success by our mentors and guest speakers. The likes of Trevor Moawad, elite mental conditioning coach, provided us with tools to engage in elite-level neutral thinking. The same tools that the greatest athletes in the world utilize like Russell Wilson! Our mentor, Will Baggett, showed us how to present our executive image through “Appearance, Behavior, Communication, Digital Presence, and Emotional Intelligence.” The Emerging Careers Panel gave us insight into the growth and opportunities available in the world of eSports, NASCAR, Minor League Baseball, and social media marketing. We were immersed in the presence of greatness and success. It was truly humbling and inspiring.

Although this was a business trip, WE HAD FUN! This was Miami, FL! We met everyday at an amazing beach house. Adidas hooked us up with gear. We woke up bright and early for Trap Yoga on the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay rooftop with a view of the downtown skyline. Then, we tried to tap into our inner Tiger Woods (in his prime) with an all red and black outfit on the golf course.

The entire experience, from acceptance to the final moments, everything was more than I expected. This was more than just the standard professional development workshop or conference. Everyone in attendance throughout the retreat was a part of the Winning Edge family. There were two former game changers and Maria Taylor’s parents even took time out of their schedules to drive us around all weekend. The photographer and video team made sure to get all the angles and brought straight heat with every shot. Chef Oscar and his team came with it at every meal, especially on the shrimp and grits! We are all bonded forever and our hands are linked as we scale the mountain. We are proud to be the OG Game Changing Retreat class and are already reaching down to help the next generation of people who look like us. This is just the beginning. We game change!

Cam Fenton

2018 Game Changing Retreat Cohort


Game Changing Retreat Experience: Alyssa Rice


Going into this retreat I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. With mixed emotions of nerves and excitement, I couldn’t wait to see what the weekend had in store. I remember sitting in the check-in room for hours after check-in was complete and talking with the other cohort members. Eventually, we were shuffled out of the room so we could head to the retreat house. By this time I already knew this was going to be a special group but I didn’t know how big of an impact the 15 other student-athletes would have on me. After four short days we really became a family.

The Winning Edge Game Changing Retreat provided us with all the tools to become successful in the sports business industry. From teaching us about our professional presence and development to trap yoga sessions and a group golf lesson, nothing was left to question. Over the four days, we were challenged both physically and mentally to improve and stretch ourselves.

One of my favorite parts of the retreat were the Dinners of Influence. Having the ability to have meaningful and intentional conversations with leaders in the industries I one day aspire to be in was amazing. The dinner guests were so open and honest. They shared their experiences and gave us useful advice they picked up along their paths.  After the retreat, I not only left feeling prepared, but excited for what the future holds. The Winning Edge provided me with so many resources and people to help me as I begin my career path.

This retreat was by far the the best career development event I have been a part of and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to experience it with. A HUGE thank you to Maria and Corinne for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing event. I am forever grateful for the memories and relationships I have made because of this retreat and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Alyssa Rice

2018 Game Changing Retreat Cohort

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