July 19, 2012
Dressed in their new custom-tailored suits, the gathering of Texas Longhorns senior football players having dinner at the Texas Club at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium resembled a group of CEOs at a stockholder's meeting.
But what they may have not realized was that it was their own stock that was rising.
The players were having dinner and a Q&A session with executives from the Walmart corporation who were there to offer advice about what the soon-to-be ex-players should expect when they hit the job market.
Walmart management trainee and former Longhorn wide receiver Brandon Healy spoke to the players and reminded them that an opportunity like this was one that they should hold close to their newly tailored vests.
"It's hard when you're that young to have a clear picture of what it is that you want to do after college," said Healy. "So the best preparation is to get as much exposure as possible, and utilize your resources while you still have them.
"When you pair a company of Walmart's stature with this university, and student-athletes have access to them and executives in the company, and the students are able to ask them questions and pick their brains as well - you know that doesn't come very often. They're definitely lucky in that regard. So hopefully they're all taking advantage of the opportunity."
All of the players in attendance listened to Healy speak along with Walmart CFO Brett Biggs and Longhorn baseball letterman Kevin Pate, who is now Walmart vice president of home management. They also had a chance to share a more intimate conversation with a Walmart representative seated at their table during dinner.
"It was pretty neat just getting to hear their perspective on the job market these days and what we can do as students in any [major]," said senior OT Luke Poehlmann. "There are a lot of jobs out there, and we have a lot of personal skills we have developed here as athletes. We can use those skills in the corporate world."
"I learned a lot of things," said senior RB D.J. Monroe. "There is something after you're done playing sports. There is another life you can pursue and have as much fun as you do when you're playing sports. And you can be just as competitive. "
The dinner was just another example of how head coach Mack Brown and his staff strive to prepare their players to become great citizens as well as great athletes.
"I can remember being in their [situation] and going to similar functions and listening to speakers and so forth," Healy said of his time at Texas. "They absolutely prepared me with events like this."
"I think it's very important [to have events like this]," said Monroe. "You might not see this side of people very often, but there are other things athletes want to do besides play sports. And I think that [Academic/Life Skills Counselor] Jean [Bryant] and [Associate Athletics Director for Academic Services] Brian Davis, they both understand that."
The event was also important in part because it helped ease some of the anxiety that the players may have had about transitioning into the world outside of college.
"My emotions are that I'm somewhat nervous, but really excited, actually,"said Poehlmann, who has already received his bachelor's degree in education. "I don't know where I'm going to be going. I don't know the path that I'm going to be taking.
"But I'm just excited that hopefully it will lead me somewhere where I will be able to fulfill my passions. I have things that God has put in my heart, and things that I have been instilled with - these passions of working with kids and families. And I can't wait to see where that leads me."