The following was written by Women’s Track & Field student-athlete, Victoria Powell, for The Winning Edge Leadership Academy’s website. To view the original article, click here.
Name: Victoria Powell
School: Georgia Grady College of Journalism, Baylor University (undergrad)
Current Status: Graduate Assistant at The Grady College of Journalism
Sport: Track & Field
One of the scariest moments to work through is a life transition from one identity to another.
Calling it a full-blown identity crisis seems a bit extreme, but when you’ve only lived 21 years and 14 of them have been dominated by a single part of you, it can be hard to look forward to what’s coming next. In this instance, my identity has been rooted in my sport. I started running track when I was 7 years old, and most if not all of my memories somehow include a track event. I even find myself using AAU Junior Olympics or USATF National Championships as mental time markers to remember when certain life events happened, so I don’t get confused. Don’t get me wrong—I love competing at a high level and learning to handle my limitations and push past comfort, but it can be consuming both healthily and unhealthily. For me, the next step in my transition is being more than “an athlete” by centering my identity around being “Victoria.”
This year, I have matriculated (literally) into a new chapter in my life. I take you back to the time where I’m standing in the middle of a job fair holding my undergraduate diploma in one hand, still wearing my cap and gown, and my graduate school class schedule in the other while all these people in suits are staring at me with the look of, “What else you got?” That was definitely a scary moment but if track has taught me anything, it’s that you’re only scared because you don’t know if you have a shot at winning. Considering my track record, I think in that moment I needed to give myself more credit.
And so, I did.
I’m now a first-year graduate student at the University of Georgia studying journalism. If you asked my parents when I was younger, they’d tell you I watched entirely too much television so it’s only fitting that’s where my interest is now. I’m learning more about television production, directing and other aspects of what makes good content every day (and a small amount of it is still done from my living room). Meeting Maria Taylor and Corinne Milien through The Winning Edge last week helped get my experience off the couch and onto College GameDay’s live set.
I got the chance to shadow Maria Taylor during ESPN College GameDay’s stop in Athens before the Notre Dame vs. Georgia game. I met her on Thursday at a lunch organized by The Georgia Way, which is a resource for student-athletes transitioning into life beyond sports. Maria and Corinne spoke about The Winning Edge, their nonprofit that aims to help “develop the next generation of women and minority leaders in sports and entertainment.” They spoke about their own transitions from education and sports into their current careers. Both of them answered many of my “what if” questions and touched on important aspects of establishing a career that I had not even thought of. Hearing them speak propelled me into—finally—starting a digital portfolio and beginning to build my brand. The opportunity that I needed manifested itself in these two women, so this time I decided to go for it.
Friday morning before the game, I attended the College GameDay production meeting and sat in as they prepared for Saturday’s show. Watching the planning process, hearing the conversations, and having the chance to ask questions was more than any classroom setting could ever teach me. Initially I thought that would be the extent of the day, but there was much more. A simple offer to help Corinne and Maria with their plans transformed into creating content for Maria’s social media and meeting two huge Bulldogs fans: Ric Flair and Quavo. Throughout it all Maria’s composure was inspiring. She seemed very at ease and comfortable in her role. It gave me a feeling of security knowing that there are opportunities for people that look like me to achieve success in the industry. It was more than I could have asked for, and all thanks to me pushing past my comfort zone.
At Friday’s production meeting, I introduced myself to Jim Gaiero, the producer for ESPN’s College GameDay and he invited me to watch him in action with the team in the control room on Saturday morning. I felt like watching them work solidified my interest in production. I could feel the focus of their energy in producing a good show; the room was full of high intensity in the room and healthy banter. The energy reminded me of the companionship on a track team where everyone is focused on their individual job but everyone works hard for each other to create a seamless final product.
The Georgia Way, The Winning Edge, Maria Taylor and Corinne Milien gave me an experience that I needed to help me transition from being more than just one identifier. Meeting people in my field of interest, watching the process of creation from start to finish and truthfully just having a good time was more than I could ask for. The weekend was information overload but the process of sifting through it all and gaining knowledge I can use to better myself was the best part. I can’t express how much I learned and I’m excited that this experience vaulted me into a new way of thinking.