Virginia Tech Athletics and the Lombardi Student-Athlete Development Office held its annual Beyond VT event on Monday, April 17 inside Lane Stadium, allowing 2023 graduates an opportunity to celebrate, reflect and network with former student-athletes and professionals as they begin to prepare for life after Virginia Tech and after athletics.
Understanding that Hokie student-athletes have multiple options to choose from after graduation, the event allowed student-athletes to select one of four paths: employment, grad school, going pro or unsure.
“We want to see our student-athletes to be successful once they graduate from Virginia Tech,” Senior Director for Student-Athlete Career Development within the Lombardi Student-Athlete Development Center Sarah Lage said following the event. “We want to see them be more than just a student, be more than just an athlete. We want to see them develop personally and professionally.
“I think this is just one event to help them with that.”
Tech welcomed back the likes of 12 former student-athletes to both help make up a well-rounded panel and divide up the four paths, with former women’s track and field standout Sarah Edwards serving as the keynote speaker to lead-off the evening event.
Centering her focus on both her personal experiences and her struggles after college, the well-accomplished distance runner during her time with the Hokies emphasized continuing to prepare for life after athletics, and the need to find a new sense of accomplishment after that competitive chapter comes to a close.
“It meant a lot to be able to try and help the current student-athletes start to make this transition into their next phase of life and give them some guidance that I wish I had been able to have,” Edwards said. “It’s really cool that Virginia Tech puts on this event for athletes and helps them prepare for that.
“I’m glad I was able to share my experience and hopefully be able to help people have a better transition than I did.”
Citing her daily struggles about the lack of competition of being away from a team in the immediate aftermath in the post-graduate era, Edwards talked about having to deal with the daily woes of finding herself away from the track, and hammered home a couple of major takeaways to help surround that constant confusion.
“It’s ok to not be ok,” Edwards said. “I really did feel invincible as a student-athlete with successes, with the highs and lows you go through. It’s just like ‘I can do anything.’
“It’s [tough] when sport is taken away. [My] sport was sacred to me. Sport is sacred to a lot of people. So it really is ok to not be ok, and to realize that, yeah, you’re not invincible.”
With nearly 40 student-athletes in attendance to educate themselves at yet another highly serviceable event, the buy-in was reciprocated from the side consisting of the current student-athletes to suit up in the orange and maroon.
There’s certainly that sense of appreciation, too, from those who will soon sit in the opposite shoes.
“It’s really important for us to have a smooth transition for the next stages of our lives,” men’s tennis standout Frank Thompson said. “For them to put on an event like this with so many Hokie alumni, former student-athletes who have come to share their stories. … It’s just beyond caring about us as athletes in our time here.
“It means a lot from the department to be committed to us beyond our time at Virginia Tech.”
“[This experience] is invaluable,” football’s Matt Johnson said. “You can’t really put a price on it. Having people come in and talk to you about their experience and pass that knowledge on … I’m just very appreciative that they’ve done this for us.”
Virginia Tech Athletics