More than 400,000 students athletes compete at institutions at all levels in the NCAA.
The majority of them will go on to other endeavors other than sports after their collegiate careers are over.
Ashton Mitchell is one of the few who go on to play professional sports.
Mitchell competed for Sam Houston State men basketball team from 2006-10.
During that time, he led them to both a Southland Conference regular-season title and a post-season title.
He went on to play for Liepaja in Latvia, where they won their
first championship cup in 11 years and
was a bronze medal winner in the Latvian Basketball League Playoffs.
After the season, he played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers,
an affiliate of the Houston Rockets during the 2011-12 season
Now, he is a certified sports for the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA)
and run One Dreams Sports, LLC, an international sports agency based in Houston, Texas.
We recently caught up with Ashton to find out more about the agency
and got his perspective on collegiate athletics.
You can check out their website at www.OneDreamSports.com.
Vallano Media: What was it like playing in Latvia?
Ashton Mitchell: Playing in Latvia was a learning experience.
I got a chance to really learn the business and get a clearer understanding about
the basketball side of things on an international level.
My experience as a player was great.
I was in a position to lead my team to a Bronze medal, their first in 11 years.
I was also able to receive huge accolades to put myself in
a great position for the following season.
As long as your winning though things are great.
Like anything it had its ups and downs.
The biggest adjustment I’ll say was adapting to their lifestyle.
Being from the U.S., we really don’t know how well we have it
until we can actually experience it.
I must say, I’ve lived it and I’m thankful for the
many things that I have.
I am happy to have had an experience like Latvia that I can share with others.
V. M.: How did you come up with the idea of forming your own company?
A.M.: I’ve dealt with 3-4 different agents in 2 years of playing professional sports
and wasn’t satisfied with the service that I received.
So, I decided to take some time to learn about the sports agency industry.
It’s always been an interest of mine because of the love of sports.
I just never really took it too seriously.
I began to do some research on how to become
an international sports agency and started the process.
V. M.: What was the process that you took in order to get the company off the ground?
A. M.: The process started with getting my certification out the way.
From there, I tried to build my network and contact as many players, coaches,
friends and teams that I could think of and let them know about the new direction I’ll be taking.
I was focused on laying the foundation of my company
by picking up a few clients that would be
manageable within the first couple of years in business.
Now, I have 4 clients that includes my former roommate and teammate, Corey Allmond.
V. M.: Do you believe that this will be a stepping stone to help future
college athletes to be prepared for academic life along with sports?
A. M.: I think this will be a stepping stone.
I’ve always been one to inform others when I knew of something that may be of help.
As college athletes, its important to really learn and understand
the industry in which your career lies.
It’s something that you can’t just take peoples’ word for all the time.
You have to acquire it on your own.
Many of us learn from personal experience and
I am in a position to give aspiring players the knowledge on
what to expect for them to be successful at a particular career.
It is huge blessing to be a part of.
V. M.: As a Bearkat alum, what was your initial thoughts when you saw
the Bearkat football team’s run at the National Championship?
A. M.: As an Alum, I was excited for them.
It’s always great to get exposure nationally
coming from a smaller division like we did.
I could remember in my senior year the change in football coaches.
I even had Coach Fritz as one of my instructors.
To see the football program’s run was something special.
V. M.: How important was it for you to get your college degree while playing for SHSU?
A. M.: With me graduating in 3 years shows how important a college degree is to me.
It was definitely my first priority and that never changed during my time at Sam.
I was honored to be apart of one of the best Criminal Justice programs in the country.
Although, I haven’t started putting my degree to work, it holds much value to me.
V. M.: For those who are contemplating to start their own business,what is your advice?
A. M.: The only way is to DO IT.
You have to show your passion behind your work
so that others may take it seriously.
Keep expanding your knowledge and learn
as much as you can and take action.
by Cheval John
In today’s environment with the popularity of college football and basketball, most student athletes who play those sports do not get their college degree because they leave early for the NFL or the NBA.
Worst of all, their grades are not on par with the rest of the student body on campus.
But at some universities, student-athletes are performing equally or better than the rest of the student body in the classroom.
One university that comes to mind is Sam Houston State University.
More than 400 student-athletes participates in 15 sports for SHSU at the NCAA Division I level in the Southland Conference (with the exception of bowling).
During the 2011-12 school year, the majority of the athletic teams made it to post-season tournaments at the Southland Conference and the NCAA .
These same student-athletes achieved success in the classroom as well.
In the fall of 2011, they had a combined GPA of 2.90.
The following semester, they did even better with a combined 3.00 GPA, the highest of any semester at SHSU.
Leading the charge was the volleyball team with a combined G.P.A. of 3.36.
They gained recognition regionally and nationally as they earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association team academic award last week.
The award is given to any team at the high school and/or collegiate level who earns a 3.30 G.P.A or above during the school year.
The volleyball team were among the 102 schools at the NCAA Division I level that received the award.
Individually, four Bearkats received the Southland Conference “Student-Athlete of the Year” award for their success in the classroom as well as on the field.
“It was very exciting,” Davis said. “I had no idea that I was in the running for it.”
“When I found out about it, I instantly burst into tears.”
“It was the best news that I could have heard.”
The most important achievement of it all is that 90% of the student-athletes at SHSU receives a college degree after they complete their eligibility.
Many of these athletes go on to be professionals in their chosen fields outside of sports.
Don’t believe me, just ask Ms. Davis.
She is going to dental school to fulfill her dream of becoming a dentist.
“I knew that it was going to be even harder doing those classes along with athletics,” Davis said.
“I was willing to take on that challenge and I think I did a pretty good job with it.”
by Cheval John
After making their first national post-season tournament appearance, the Sam Houston State Bearkat women’s basketball team will start the 2012-13 season with an invite to the Pre-Season Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
The Bearkats will face the University of Delaware Blue Hens in the opening round of the tournament in Newark, Delaware.
The winner of the match will advance to the second round of the tournament
The Blue Hens were the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Conference Champions last season and are looking to start their title defense in style.
“From what I know, they are a very good team coming off last year,” Bearkat women’s basketball head coach Brenda Nichols said to a representative of the SHSU’s athletic department media relations.
“We are excited for this opportunity and look forward to being able to play some intense and exciting competitors.”
The Blue Hens will be led by senior forward/guard Elena Delle Donne.
Delle Donne is an All-American who averaged 26.1 points per game, made 91.9% of her free throws and shot 38.8% from the three-point line last season.
She received honors from the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Writers Association, the Naismith Award and John Wooden Award.
She was named “Player of the Year” by the CAA and was a finalist for “Player of the Year” by the WBCA, Naismith and Wooden Awards.
“You can’t really measure yourself as a player without going up against the best,” Nichols said. “There is no doubt she is one of the best and will be a true challenge for our team.”
The Bearkats are looking forward to that challenge as they are returning 12 letterman from last year’s team who were the West Division Champions of the Southland Conference and made their first national post-season appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).
They made it to the semi-final round of the tournament, where they were knocked off by the University of Northern Iowa.
Leading the charge for the Bearkats are seniors Britni Martin and Sequeena Thomas.
Martin was ranked 10th in the nation for three-pointers (2.93 per game) and scored 523 total points for the season.
She was runner-up for the Southland Conference’s “Player of the Year” that went to Central Arkansas’ Megan Herbert.
Thomas led the Southland Conference in rebounds (12.6 per game).
She averaged 14.8 points per game and had an average of 2.0 blocks which ranked her #9 and #2 in the conference, respectively.
The tournament consists of 16 teams from around the country and will be held from November 9 to November 16-17.
The Bearkats-Blue Hen match will begin at 7 p.m.
For more information on the tournament, visit www.womensnit.com.
by Cheval John
With the 2012 football season less than two months away, the SHSU Bearkats are more focused than ever.
Along the way, they are receiving attention locally and nationally after a remarkable run at the national championship.
For example, five members of the team were named to the pre-season All-America squad by the Sports Network.
Here are the profiles of the five players named to the All-America squad:
In 2011, the junior running back set a single season Southland Conference record in rushing yards (1,644), touchdowns (24) and points scored (144) and was ranked nationally in scoring (No.4), rushing yards (No. 16) and all-purpose yards (No.24).
He was named to five All-America squads including the America Football Coaches Association and the Associated Press and finished 7th for the Walter Payton Award.
Though Sincere was a wide receiver, he was more of a utility player at best.
He was ranked third in the Southland Conference in rushing yards (979) and seventh in total points scored (78).
His best performance came in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs as he torched Montana State for 160 yards on 11 carries that propelled the Bearkats to a 49-21 beatdown over the Bobcats.
He received the nod for “Offensive Player of the Year” by the Southland Conference and was named to the first-team All-America squad by College Sporting News.
The Bearkat defense showed that defense do win championships and Darnell Taylor was one of the reasons why the defense deserved a share of the spotlight during the historic run.
Taylor led the team with 128 total tackles, the highest in one season since 1988.
He was named “Defensive Player of the Year” by the Southland Conference and made five All-America squads.
Cleveland is looking for a repeat performance from last year’s run.
The three-year letterman posted 46 tackles including nine that went for losses.
He was named to the All-America squad by Phil Steele Magazine in 2011 for his efforts.
Swanson had a career-high eight interceptions, the most in school history.
His interceptions was also the most in the Southland Conference and ranked him third in the nation.
He was named second team in the All-Southland Conference and third team in the Associated Press and College Sports.com All-America squad.
The first game to the 2012 season will begin on September 8 as the Bearkats host the University of the Incarnate Word at Elliot T. Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas.
by Cheval John
When I got to the club house at 2:30 p.m , I saw that Spain was leading Italy 2-0 going into half time.
I thought I missed out because I saw that it was going to start at 2:30 p.m.
What I failed to realize was that the start time was in eastern time and not central time.
In reality, I did not miss anything but the two goals that was scored by David Silva and Jordi Alba that gave Spain a 2-0 lead.
My thinking was that Italy had a chance to make a comeback because they had really good players like Mario Balotelli.
What I did not know was that they never scored 3 goals in any of the games they won to reach the final and would have to get 3 goals in order to beat Spain.
They came out with urgency in the first 10 minutes of the second half as had chances to score.
They even used their final substitution that brought in Thiago Matta to give them fresh legs.
The result was they managed only three shots, but still could not score.
Worst of all, Matta went down with a hamstring injury that left Italy shorthanded and dashed the hopes for them to win.
Substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scored the final two goals for Spain in the 83rd and 88th minute, respectively to put the game out of reach and to win the title.
A lot of history was made in Spain’s run at the 2012 UEFA Euro Tournament.
Here are a few stats that stood out:
Spain only conceded one goal in the entire tournament. Ironically, that conceded goal was against Italy in the first round.
With the win, Spain became the first team to win three straight major tournaments. (UEFA Euro 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup).
Fernando Torres became the first player to score in two UEFA Euro finals appearance. He scored the game-winning goal in the Euro 2008 final against Germany that gave Spain their first Euro title.
Vicente del Bosque became the second head coach in history to win the UEFA Euro Cup and the FIFA World Cup.