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“Membership in Seminole Boosters is the lifeblood of the athletics budget. Your membership funds scholarships and essential services for more than 550 student-athletes.”

Michael Alford, Seminole Boosters CEO

This is the fourth in a series of One Tribe Campaign articles written to examine how your contribution to Seminole Boosters provides services for more than 550 male and female student-athletes.

This article focuses on Professional Development — preparing student-athletes for careers, and for life, after sports — and offers Booster members the opportunity to engage with student-athletes in mentorship, apprenticeship and career placement.

Professional Development is one of the following essential services, which account for more than 45 percent of FSU’s $80 million budget:

Part 1 One Tribe Campaign Scholarships

Part 2 One Tribe Campaign Strength and Conditioning Football

Part 3 One Tribe Campaign Strength and Conditioning Basketball 

Part 4 Professional Development

Sports Medicine  

Nutrition 

Coaches 

COVID-19 Expenses

Facilities and Equipment

“Student-athlete development is the big picture,” said Sarah Petronio, who heads up the department. “When a student-athlete comes to Florida State, they choose us for a multitude of reasons. I think a piece of that is belonging to the legacy of what Florida State has created for our student-athletes upon graduation. They come here to compete. They come here to excel. They come here to be a part of an elite program. But they also come here to develop as people and to be prepared for that chapter two of life.”

That’s a very large mission for a very important role in the student-athlete’s development. 

“As an office, it’s our goal, No. 1, to welcome our student-athletes to campus and to help them transition from high school students to collegiate student-athletes,” Petronio said, “and then into successful adults and lifelong Seminoles. So we’re creating that culture of belonging and fostering the development of our student-athletes holistically.”

Student-Athlete Development teaches a mandatory course for freshmen called Student Development and Leadership Strategies (SLS 1261). This course connects our student-athletes to campus resources and covers the areas of: character development, leadership, time management/ social pressures, social responsibility and financial literacy. In addition to this course, there is also a professional development course for FSU’s juniors and seniors, which is called Life after Sport: Road Map to Professional Development. 

The department aims to ensure that student-athletes are prepared and ready to take that next step to launch into their careers and leverage FSU’s network of 300,000 alums, so they also work closely with the Campus Career Center and Seminole Boosters to engage members in networking for mentorship, internship or career placement. 

Personal Development

From the moment student-athletes step on campus they begin engaging in personal development opportunities. All of our sport programs are highly invested in volunteering throughout the Tallahassee community, creating a culture of servant leadership and personal growth. 

“We talk about the personal development side of the student-athlete experience on a regular basis,” Petronio said. “What is your value system? Who are you beyond your sport accomplishments? What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish during the four years you are a student-athlete? What do you want to accomplish post-sport? Every student-athlete, whether a top draft pick or a walk-on, will face the day when their sport will come to an end. It is our job to help them be ready for that day.”

It is our mission to help them be successful in their endeavors and then to tie them to a bigger purpose. The ultimate goal is to belong to that Florida State culture, the Florida State legacy we are all so proud of.

As student-athletes are making their post-graduation plans we take a more tailored approach to their development. What kind of career path are they pursuing? How can we be the bridge that connects them to campus resources? How can we utilize our strong alumni network and tie them to the university? Our boosters are committed partners throughout the entire development process. Their participation in departmental events and continued support make all the difference.   

Whenever we have student-athletes sit across from a donor over a meal or attend a Seminole Booster-sponsored event they develop important communication skills. Having those conversations, developing relationships and expanding their personal and professional networks gives our athletes much needed confidence in social settings as well as prepares them for future opportunities.

As they continue to progress through their four years, those relationships deepen and help propel them into the workforce, whether that’s connecting them with someone within their own network or just giving them the confidence to go out and to pursue a similar career path or another opportunity.

Petronio, the Director of Student Athlete Development, oversees the departmental efforts but credits Kyani White-Tate for creating many of the new student-led initiatives, many of which are virtual.

“Kyani oversees our community service initiatives. She plans and facilitates opportunities for our student-athletes to give back to the Tallahassee community,” Petronio said. 

Florida State has led the nation in community service hours (more than 6,000) performed each year in elementary school reading sessions, assisting seniors or simply helping to keep roadways free of debris but coronavirus threw them a curveball this year.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and brighter minds adapted.

“We all assist, but Kyani is the one that is spearheading how our student-athletes are getting involved in the community,” Petronio said. “She’s the one who helped reimagine some of our in-person community service to take it virtual for our interaction with school age kids, virtual reading sessions and mentoring as well as the drive for back to school supplies and playground equipment.”

The student-athletes have been successful with virtual book reading sessions for elementary schools and highly engaged in student appearances where they can talk to classes virtually. They have also completed fundraising drives in conjunction with campus and community organizations that support the university’s mission and that of the United Way, the Ronald McDonald house, road and street cleanups.

All of this community service is an exercise in developing the student athlete and funded with the contributions of Seminole Booster members.

“We’re very appreciative of our Athletic Director David Coburn, the athletic leadership and Seminole Booster donations, which have allowed us to develop an APP to promote and track our community service events,” Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development Ashton Henderson said, prior to his departure. “All these community-outreach opportunities monthly, daily, weekly are listed. Our student-athletes just click on one and can sign up, and it tracks their hours for them.” 

Professional Networking with Seminole Boosters

The department, in conjunction with Seminole Boosters Vice Presidents Derril Beech and Kari Terezakis, organizes what are called “Professional Ready Trips” where FSU’s student-athletes meet with successful Seminole Boosters to discuss career opportunities in order to better prepare themselves for career opportunities prior to graduation.

Alan Flaumenhauft and his wife, Carol, hosted the event in their Orlando home two years ago. 

“Our first Professional Ready Trip was a great success,” Petronio said. “And I think it was a pivotal moment in our programming efforts. It’s given us an opportunity to create an incentive at the end of the tunnel for our student athletes. If they participate and complete developmental areas, they will have the opportunity to attend a future trip. The student-athlete’s initial experience was so positive that they have begun to promote the idea to their teammates. We envision this as the beginning of a great partnership where both student-athletes and boosters benefit from the interactions.”

More than 25 student-athletes attended the event, which led to job opportunities.

The end goal is to create a formalized mentorship program where there are multiple interactions and developmental opportunities.

“I think we have a lot of interest. I certainly think that’s the next step, since there are some existing relationships and buy in to creating that experience.”

Student Engagement Social

The enthusiasm for the Flaumenhauft event did lead to the creation of a “Student Engagement Social”, FSU’s version of a career fair where Boosters can meet student-athletes who have proven to be bright, driven and know how to manage time during their collegiate experience.

The first virtual career fair will be held on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. You can register here: https://fla.st/2MyOYEg

100-135 student-athletes graduate each year in diverse fields

Florida State graduates 60 to 75 student-athletes in the fall semester and 50 to 60 in the spring from a very diverse range of majors. 

There’s great diversity in major selection among FSU’s student-athletes. While many of the athletes want to remain in sports, others seek career in education, criminal justice, politics, law, medicine, business, family and child sciences and more. 

How does a Booster engage?

Seminole Boosters who are interested in gaining more information or want to participate can contact Petronio directly as late as Wednesday morning by phone 850.264.6940 or at spetronio@fsu.edu.

The department’s goal is to reach 70 percent placement now and a higher percentage in years to come. The number of placements the department has facilitated has been good.

“Every year when we consider our ‘scoreboard’ we are assessing how prepared our student-athletes are for their next steps,” Petronio said. “As a department we can hang our hat on the fact that they are indeed landing internships and full-time positions, but the sky is the limit for new opportunities.”

In terms of initial job placement, the department follows up with graduates 30 days, 60 days and 90 days after graduation to see where they have landed geographically and to help them connect with a Seminole Booster liaison who can help them with placement in that area. 

Donor impact

They say it takes a village to raise a child, which is especially true in athletics. Individual Seminole Booster donors provide members of the athletics department with the resources to provide student-athletes an extensive array of services during their playing days and beyond.

“I feel we have the best job in the department because we get to drive culture in everything we do and continue to make sure our student-athletes give back to the community,” Henderson said. “Contributions to our program have made the program go and have provided value for our student athletes. FSU athletics maintains comprehensive excellence and we need your contributions to continue to help our student-athletes achieve comprehensive excellence in every endeavor they go after.”

The One Tribe Campaign

Florida State University is a preeminent, Top 20 public institution, and ranked No. 2 athletically among all Division I institutions (357) for overall winning percentage since 2015.

In addition to winning games and gaining knowledge, FSU’s student-athletes are learning the value of giving back to the community and becoming successful members of society. 

Your Seminole Booster membership helps FSU Athletics develop these future leaders and outstanding citizens.

In a quest to achieve more, we are excited to announce the launch of the One Tribe Campaign! Your 2021 Annual Fund contribution will strengthen our Annual Membership in support of the following areas of Athletics: coaching, support staff, sports medicine, academics, mental health, nutrition, scholarships, professional development and COVID-19 response.

Progress Tracker 

As of March 5, 2021:
2021 Members:
 6,901 (53.1% to goal)
2021 Pledges: $9 million (64% to goal)

Rewards and Benefits 2021

In addition to the intrinsic feeling of assisting the program and our student-athletes, Seminole Booster members receive tangible benefits as well as ticket and parking priority.

Contribution     Reward

$70 – $329        One Tribe Vinyl Decal

$330 – $1299    One Tribe Hat

$1300-$6499    One Tribe Polo

$6500-plus       Mike Norvell Autographed Football

Thank you for choosing our team!

Thank you for your continued support of Florida State athletics! Florida State athletics simply can not compete for championships or provide the educational and leadership opportunities for student-athletes without you. You are a vital part of the team. If you have questions about giving or benefits, or would like to make a contribution over the phone, please call us at (850) 644-1830 or visit onetribe.com.