An Important Transition

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Kiaira Talia Cooper and her journey to become an athletic administrator.


For the last two weeks, the word transition has been an ongoing theme in my life. Three Saturdays ago, I packed up everything and moved 16 hours away from home. I packed up the little that I had and moved from Georgia to Western New York to a small town about an hour and a half south of Buffalo, called Houghton.

Now you are probably wondering why in the world did I move so far away. No, it was not a quarter life crisis (I’m 26 years old) and I am not trying to find myself. Well, not exactly!

About a month in a half ago, I was presented with an opportunity of a lifetime; a career defining opportunity. I was presented with an opportunity to be a part of an internship program offered through the NCAA. This grant is called the Ethnic Minorities and Women’s Internship Grant.

According to the NCAA, this grant provides funds to create entry-level job opportunities at Division III institutions and conference offices to help encourage the recruitment, selections and long-term success of ethnic minorities and women.

The internship provides full-time, two-year appointments at institutions for the recipients of this grant. With that, I was selected to take part in this program as the Assistant to the Athletic Director at Houghton College in Houghton, New York.

Throughout my two years, I will have the chance to gain experience in many facets of the Houghton Athletics department as well as have the privilege of participating in many professional development opportunities. As I said before, this program is the linchpin of my professional career as an athletic administrator. These next two years will be essential in my growth and success in college athletics. I’m hopeful that this blog post will give some insight on my experience so far.

You may be thinking, “She has only been on the job for two, going on three weeks, what could she have experienced in such a short amount of time?”

Well, you know what they say, “time is money,” but what I say is “time is success, so don’t waste it.” I only have two years and I’m looking at that as a challenge to learn, network, and experience as much as I can. There is no time like the present and I am going to live in it.

These past two weeks have been packed with a personal and professional transition. As for professional, I’ve been able to learn so much and it’s because I’ve been thrown into the deep end. Let it be known, that I was hired on as a full-time intern but I have not been treat as a typical intern. What intern has her own “corner” office with a boss view? And that’s not even the half of it. In the last two weeks, I’ve been able to attend a SID conference meeting and a leadership conference. I’ve also been able to play an essential part in compliance prep for the upcoming season.

As preseason begins, I get to conduct my very first compliance meeting for our fall athletes. Talk about being thrown in the deep end. Don’t worry, I have floaties!

I’ve only been on the job for a short amount of time but I am starting to find myself little by little every day. Remember when I said this wasn’t a, “let me find myself, sort of” move. Well, that “sort of” refers to this move being about figuring out what path I should take in my career.

I know I want to be a college athletic administrator but what exactly does that path look like? Every day I am getting closer and closer to that answer.

The great thing about this internship with the NCAA at Houghton College is that I have my hand in just about every facet of the department. I am literally getting experience in compliance, sports information, game management, diversity programming, coaching, etc. I am super pumped about what these two years have in store for me at Houghton. I have a really great feeling about this new gig.

Although I am a little nervous, I am super excited to get to continue to pursue my dreams to become the best administrator where I am at. Although the athletic season hasn’t even started, I feel like I’m on the right path. So I guess you could call this my first impression or gut feeling. Either way, these feelings of nerves, anxiousness, and excitement are a good sign that I am on the path to success. Wish me luck!

— Kiaira Talia Cooper, @kiairatalia


This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.


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