By Don Collins
Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is like my second home. Ever since I first set foot on campus, I have loved my time here. One of the deciding factors for my enrollment at BGSU was how much like home it seemed and this spring I had an experience that felt like Christmas to me.
Bowling Green was the host of the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp that was put together by the NFL’s Player Engagement department. I was absolutely honored to be chosen as an ambassador for the four-day event. The event was an opportunity for current and former players to practice and develop their skills in the world of sport media.
As an ambassador, I was tasked with assisting a group of players with getting to and from sessions in a timely manner (which I found out was wishful thinking!). I was assigned a group by way of randomly drawing from sheets of paper. Usually I have bad luck picking things randomly. Not this time.
My group was awesome, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I must start at the beginning. The first day, I had to round up the troops prior to their first session. I can’t lie, I was a little nervous meeting 8 former players who all had on suits that made me feel like I needed a major wardrobe upgrade.
Over the course of the day, I was able to sit in on all the sessions but also get to know more about them. This part of the Boot Camp for me was one of the best in my opinion. So much of what we see as consumers of the media is filtered through somebody else’s viewpoint. Without getting too detailed, I feel like everyone has an expectation of what professional athletes are like due to what we’ve been told, not what we’ve experienced.
My number one goal prior to the Boot Camp was something I tend to always do: Treat people as people. Granted, the people I was with for four days were giants compared to my stature, but at the end of the day, pro athletes are people as well.
One highlight of the camp was getting to know the individual personalities that each player possessed. Particularly in my group, each guy had something that I thought would serve them well in their future careers. The camp offered them a chance to see what medium best delivered that side of themselves to the consumers of sport media
The actual Boot Camp sessions were cool too. I attended almost every session and took detailed notes since this is going to be my profession as well! If the NFL Player Engagement office ever reads this, I want them to know that every session was very informative, and I learned a lot. Hopefully that means that if I took a lot away from the camp, then so did the players.
Two memories stick out to me from the Boot Camp. First was sitting down with Jerry Porter, Fred Jackson and Joselio Hanson on the set and discussing the upcoming NFL Draft and other football tidbits. For me, I am very conscious of the fact that nothing is guaranteed and that may have been my only time to share a set with these gentlemen, so I cherished the opportunity.
My second favorite memory took place on the last day of the camp. Talking to the players throughout the entire process of their culminating color commentary of this year’s Super Bowl was awesome. Seeing how they applied what they had been learning was great, but also the fun time taking pictures and sitting in on some of the sessions was a treat.
On a personal note, this semester has been a blessing because everything seems to be happening right on time and perfectly. Ignoring the bumps along the road that come and go during a semester of college, I have never felt more comfortable with my career path and outlook. The Boot Camp literally brought tears to my eyes when it was over. Not because I was overcome with sadness that it was over, but because for four days, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. I am forever grateful to the people who gave me this opportunity, but also to the players for being the good people they are. Finally, I must shout out to my mom and dad. They have taught me the lessons necessary to be ready when the opportunity arises. It won’t be the last time that I’ll be ready.