Transitioning from Student-Athlete to Student-Athlete Development

“Through this experience, I was able to learn about what it looked like from the staff side that we don’t see as student-athletes,”

Sofia Read, a former standout player on the Towson University Women’s Soccer team, has allowed her love for sports to continue into her career. Read was a two-time team captain for the Tigers as well as a starter all four years and named a member of the CoSIDA District 2 All-Academic first team.

Read graduated from Towson in 2015 with a degree in Sports Management. She later pursued a graduate degree from the University of Connecticut and earned a graduate degree in sports management there.

During her time at Towson, Read worked as an athletic department intern and an academic support services assistant at Towson. While at UCONN, Read worked as a program specialist for community outreach and student-athlete development.

Read currently holds the position of the Associate Director of C.A.T.S Student-athlete development at the University of Arizona.

Read was a two-time team captain for the Tigers as well as a starter all four years and named a member of the CoSIDA District 2 All-Academic first team.

Transitioning from student-athlete to student-athlete development

During her four years at Towson as a student-athlete, Read became involved in the athletic department by volunteering, interning, and helping out as much as she could.

“Through this experience, I was able to learn about what it looked like from the staff side that we don’t see as student-athletes,” said Read. “It was cool to get that perspective and see the behind-the-scenes stuff and I really enjoyed that part of the experience in terms of supporting student-athletes and I was curious of what jobs within that looked like.”

Read decided to pursue a graduate degree in sports management at UCONN following the end of her athletic career to jumpstart her working life by doing multiple internships while studying.

 “That was a pivotal part of my career and a really great experience to have. They were building that program there during that time. I was there for two years for school and stayed another year to commit more time working full time in their student-athlete success program,” said Read.

Read applied for the job as Associate Director of C.A.T.S. student-athlete development at Arizona three years ago. 

“I got the job and I drove across the country with my parents and moved out here not knowing anyone. I have loved the experience so far,” said Read.

So why Arizona for Read?

“The holistic student-athlete experience was something I was always interested in and I am grateful I found a role like this where I can be a part of developing our programs and leading some initiatives at Arizona,” said Read.

The lifelong benefit of being a student-athlete

Sports have always been a prominent part of Read’s life and is something she does not see splitting with any time soon.

“I joke that I chose sports management as my major because I didn’t want to let sports go and wanted to be a part of my life forever,” said Read.

Read credits her student-athlete experience for helping her to find a career she is passionate about. 

“My student-athlete experience exposed me to what careers in athletics are out there and having that foundation and living through some of this allows me to appreciate the hard work all of these current-student athletes I work with daily put in,” said Read.

According to Read, her student-athlete experience seems to continue to be fruitful even after her eligibility is over.

“Sports has provided me so much and I am trying to be able to pay that back and help provide opportunities for current student-athletes and make an impact on this super challenging yet rewarding experience of being a student-athlete,” said Read. “The student-athlete experience was a huge part of my life, transitioning out was challenging but I am glad I am still able to be connected to the experience in a different way. 

“Great meeting yesterday with @pac12 Student-Athlete Development Group. Lots of incredible stuff happening on each of our campuses. #ConferenceofChampions” – Sofia Read Twitter

C.A.T.S. student-athlete program and NIL education

The C.A.T.S. student-athlete development program stands for Committed to the Athletes’ Total Success and is a holistic program that is innovative and impactful in its approach to helping student-athletes. This includes student-athlete development, medical services, strength and conditioning, academics, and clinical and sports psychology. 

“C.A.T.S. is really about the entire development and supporting our student-athletes, helping them in every way we can. That is our responsibility, and we love to do it,” said Read.

The University of Arizona athletic department, similar to many across the NCAA, is on track for a “more normal” schedule with in-person classes and sporting events, according to Read. 

“There will be a lot of changes with college sports due to NIL so we will see how that impacts what we do but we plan on continuing to push forward and setting high goals for our student-athletes and helping them achieve them,” said Read. “We are dedicated to making sure we are preparing student-athletes for life on campus and after college athletics.”

The main goal of the student-athlete development program at U of A is to continue to move forward and impact as many student-athletes as possible.

“Regarding the new NIL rules, we are building the Arizona Edge which is a collaborative effort between athletics and some campus partners,” said Read. “We are rolling with the ever-evolving rules across the NCAA and state-by-state rules.”

“The University of Arizona’s C.A.T.S. Program (Commitment to an Athlete’s Total Success) is a comprehensive student-athlete support services program. Program areas are designed to assist student-athletes based on individual needs, and to assist in developing the life skills needed over time to lead a healthy, positive and productive life following graduation.”

The future for Read

The future is extremely bright for Read, who places a larger emphasis on her personal and professional growth for the future.

“I want to just continue to grow professionally and personally and follow my passions and my purpose. I do not see that as a title or specific position,” said Read. “I am doing that now and want to continue doing that in the future. I try to make sure every day that I am doing what fills my bucket and makes me feel good professionally and personally.”

U of A Usage of Game Plan

“At the University of Arizona, we use the Athlete Interest Inventory and Next Play Pro a lot and this summer we plan on using more of the modules. I think that it is great that Game Plan has these resources available and ready for if our students are looking to learn specifically about one of those content areas, we can utilize those modules at our disposal,” said Read.

Read believes that Game Plan will be a beneficial tool for student-athletes at U of A in the coming year. 

“With the new and increasing job opportunities that will be posted, I am excited to see how that adds value to Game Plan. We are building on how we use it still, but I really enjoy the assessments so far, they are very helpful conversation starters,” said Read.

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Game Plan’s comprehensive software platform integrates mobile-first eLearning as well as virtual mentorship and career services, uniquely designed for athletic organizations. Game Plan has over 300 athletic organizations with over 240,000 courses completed yearly. Our eLearning courses provide student-athletes ultimate access and flexibility while equipping both athletics departments and the conference office management tools and insight to ensure outstanding experiences and outcomes. To learn more about Game Plan, please visit wearegameplan.com.

By : Elena ShklyarGame Plan Intern