Kenny Landreaux, Dodgers Hall of Famer, Speaks at SMC About Cool Careers in Sports
SMC students from the Introduction to Kinesiology and Sports Management classes, as well as other students interested in careers in the sports industry were treated to presentations by three speakers in diverse fields and backgrounds related to sports.
Celeste Gehring is a producer and manager for Fox Sports Net and relates all the negative aspects of her high pressure job. It may look glamorous hobnobbing with sports celebrities and athletes, but the reality is that you are working every day of the year, including holidays with hardly any time off. You are "at the beck and call of the job." She offered four tips to students aspiring to careers in sports, but they could also be applied to anyone in general. 1. There are going to be negatives and positives to every job, so know them before and make sure that's what you really want to do. 2. Know the direction you're going and the doors will start opening. 3. Practice and learn what you want to do now by reading books. 4. Dedicate yourself to the job at hand and take advantage of the time and resources, by making contacts, getting involved and asking questions. Gehring ended her presentation by reiterating one tip, "preparation means opportunity."
Head coach for the SMC men's volleyball team and professional beach volleyball player John Mayer wasn't prepared to speak by himself. He admitted that he thought the program would be a panel discussion of speakers.
Mayer grew up playing a variety of sports, but "got into volleyball late." He first played volleyball at Pierce College, then moved to play at Pepperdine University guiding the team to a national championship match. He had an opportunity in his senior year while studying to get his teacher's credential to become a professional beach volleyball player. He decided to wait and finish his schooling. "It's easy to jump into something that's really attractive, but I recommend finishing school before jumping into a full-time profession," he said.
Mayer echoed the sentiments of Gehring that his career as a professional beach volleyball player isn't glamorous, although some may think it is. There is "no big pay back." As it is according to Mayer you could be losing money in the process. You pay for your own travel, where you stay, and there are no contracts. And half the time you don't get paid.
But he emphasized that he's doing what he loved: playing beach volleyball and coaching and teaching at SMC. "Find something you love to do, even if it takes five years."
Kenny Landreaux laughs at the idea that playing professional baseball could be considered a "cool career." He said it wasn't easy getting there. He grew up playing sports and concentrated on baseball before he was offered a full scholarship to Arizona State University.
In 1976 the California Angels selected him in the first round, then he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1979 and traded again in 1981to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even as a professional baseball player he admits it wasn't easy on his family life and the hardships of traveling wore him down. "Cool career is cool sometimes, but a lot of work goes into it," Landreaux said.
After retiring from baseball in 1987 to raise his family he started coaching and now works with the Dodgers Community Affairs Department. Now he admits he has a "cool career" with his current job providing outreach between the team and the public.
A common thread among the three speakers is that there is no easy road to any chosen career in sports. But persistence, hard work, and staying in school are good starting off points to get you where you need to go.