Oct. 30, 2015
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Monthly. To receive the publication or daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Traveling to meets across the country year after year sparked an idea for University of Iowa head swimming and diving coach Marc Long. On Sept. 25, it came to fruition.
The Hawkeyes partnered with UI alum and CEO of HBK Engineering Ron Kaminsky — Long’s former college teammate and roommate — to hold a Hawkeye Business Social, a professional development and networking event, at the HBK corporate office in Chicago.
“It was awesome to have this unique opportunity,” said senior Samantha Wager. “I was scribbling notes on my napkin throughout the evening trying to soak it all in. Few, if any, 18-22-year-old college students have an opportunity like that.”
Kaminsky called upon members of his staff and lined up additional speakers for the three-hour event. There was a dinner/networking portion of the evening followed presentations and question-and-answer sessions with four speakers, including an attending physician at the Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the director of human resources and a lead engineer at HBK, and founder of Summit Trail Advisors.“It’s cool to have a coaching staff that not only is focused on our success athletically, but also be focused on our life success so we can succeed beyond athletics. That’s a benefit of our program, we have a coaching staff that is passionate about their athletes to have the vision and set this up for us. It is so above and beyond anything we could have imagined.”UI senior Samantha Wagner
“They made sure they exposed us to a lot of diverse disciplines, so we were able to relate to one of the professionals on some level,” said Wagner. “It was eye-opening because a lot of them had been in our shoes before or were college athletes.”
Senior Luke Snow left the event energized. He wants to put his mechanical engineering degree to use in the engineering field when he graduates in May, 2016.
“One of the speakers graduated with the same degree I am obtaining,” he said. “It was fun to listen to her speak and learn the different steps of her career.
“This event can help us prepare for life after college. It was a little intimidating being in that environment and networking with successful business professionals, but that’s why we were pushed to do it.”
Wagner was taken aback by the message and passion of the presenters.
“They were all so hard-working and had spent their entire lives pursuing their passion, even if it didn’t seem like the right or best decision,” she said. “They talked about plugging holes — finding their weaknesses and working on those until they became strengths.
“They all had high standards for themselves. They didn’t get to where they are today by sitting around waiting and wishing for success. They went for it, so it was cool to hear them speak on that.”
Long wants the business socials to become an annual event. He believes it is his responsibility to provide the student-athletes with these types of experiences.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “We want to bring this to other cities and businesses. If this is something we can provide, we need to be doing it because it’s our duty to help the student-athletes grow.
“We want to help give them the tools. Sometimes the student-athletes need to be encouraged to see what’s out there, beyond what’s going in in course work. It’s a perfect partnership with us.”
Wagner is thankful for the Iowa coaching staff and their willingness to want develop well-rounded student-athletes.
“It’s cool to have a coaching staff that not only is focused on our success athletically, but also be focused on our life success so we can succeed beyond athletics,” said Wagner. “That’s a benefit of our program, we have a coaching staff that is passionate about their athletes to have the vision and set this up for us.
“It is so above and beyond anything we could have imagined.”