Junior libero Jenna Khoury learned how important connections are now outside of sports, as well as many other lessons at the virtual version of the NCAA Career in Sports Forum. A common theme the last six months, Khoury's original three day trip to Chicago was altered as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The NCAA Career in Sports Forum is designed for student-athletes to learn about and explore potential careers in sports, particularly college athletics.
Khoury applied to be a part of the experience through an extensive questionnaire in January, and was one of 400 student-athletes across all divisions selected to participate.
"It allowed me to connect with student-athletes all over the country. I had a gymnast from LSU and a volleyball player from Baylor in my group," said Khoury.
Participants typically spend three days in presentations, with the opportunity to meet dozens of former collegiate athletes who now work in college athletics. COVID-19 shifted the annual convention to a virtual version, yet Khoury was still able to make the most of her time at the forum.
"We broke off into small groups, where we had to do a lot of self-reflection on things like leadership styles," said Khoury. "It really helped me learn what skills I possess and how I would contribute to a team of workers."
Even within the breakout groups, Khoury was selected by the NCAA to be a spokesperson for small schools.
Though the forum is geared towards career opportunities and internships for student-athletes after their playing days have concluded, Khoury was able to translate some of the lessons from the forum onto the court.
"Learning about my weaknesses has really helped me become a better teammate," said Khoury. "I learned where I may struggle, to rely on others around me to pick me up."
Khoury racked up 493 digs last season as a sophomore as she awaits a modified spring schedule to be released.
Khoury's ultimate dream job? To be a physical therapist for a professional or collegiate sports team.
"I learned it's important to find experiences, friendships and relationships outside of volleyball," said Khoury. "I know it's important for me to do things that aren't volleyball related, so that when my playing career is over, it will be a seamless transition."
Khoury anticipates a great spring season, with exact dates and times to be determined.