Total immersion

Whether shooting hoops with friends, watching his Yankees take on the Mets in the Subway Series, trying out for the Wheaton baseball team his freshman year or working in the Athletics Department for four years—sports have been a part of senior Kyle Diangkinay’s life for as long as he can remember.

So when he received the opportunity to attend the 2017 NCAA Division III Student Immersion Program in Nashville, Tenn., this January, it was the start of a lifelong passion turning into a potential future.

“I’ve realized that I’d like to pursue a professional career in athletics from the administrative standpoint because I thoroughly enjoy helping in the dissemination of student-athlete information to bridge the gap between the fan and the player,” said Diangkinay, a business and management major. “The benefits that I received from the NCAA Convention are immeasurable and priceless.”

The immersion program is held annually in conjunction with the NCAA Convention. Students who are selected are fully funded to attend the convention and are exposed to networking opportunities with Division III members and to the governance process. The goal of the program is to build a pipeline of talented ethnic minority candidates who are interested in Division III coaching and/or administration, in an effort to diversify the division, according to the NCAA website.

“Being in an administrative position would allow me to use my experience and knowledge to truly exemplify the concept of diversity and inclusion within athletics,” said Diangkinay, who has always valued his broad intercultural interactions.

“Coming from a very ethnically diverse place—Queens, N.Y.—I still hold very close the friends that I made through sports teams as an adolescent,” he said. “Had it not been for the several sports clubs that I had been enrolled in growing up, my friend group would likely be far less diverse.

“Even as college has progressed, I have made friends from all over the world. My study abroad experience was made far better by participating in basketball games with individuals from China, South Africa and England, to name a few nations.”

While in Nashville, Diangkinay participated in programming and training for students seeking professional careers in athletics. He also had the opportunity to attend an NCAA legislative voting session as well as seminars featuring guest speakers and an informative session on the importance of Title IX.

“Attending the convention showed me how many career opportunities are available throughout intercollegiate athletics—especially at the Division III level. Many workshops pointed to the slight lack of diversity in administration, but learning more about how much the NCAA cares about inclusion was encouraging for a person of color interested in the sports information field like myself,” he said.

“Meeting 40-plus other immersion program participants was a great experience as well. Getting to surround myself with a diverse group of people who share my same passion for sports was encouraging. We all got along really well and feel confident that we can turn to each other for networking opportunities in the future.”

The immersion program already is paying off. In March, Diangkinay received a letter from the NCAA director of Division III informing him that he was selected to attend the 2017 NCAA Division III Career Next Steps Program held May 31 through June 1 in conjunction with the NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis.

During that time, participants explore potential careers in sports, with the primary focus on college athletics. The forum is designed to assist students in charting their career paths and provide an opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals.

He also received word in March that he was accepted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Student Program that takes place June 11 through June 13 in Orlando, Fla., which also offers networking and learning opportunities.