Last Saturday morning, more than 80 Girl Scouts from the West Central Florida Council invaded One Buccaneer Place, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played host to a "Career in Sports" workshop for the forward-thinking young women. With their parents also on hand, the Girl Scouts enjoyed a networking breakfast, a tour of the facility, a panel discussion with sports business professionals and an informative Q&A session.
The day began with a breakfast in the Buccaneers Team Dining Room, which included a goal-setting exercise for the day. Excitement built during the morning as the young visitors sat in the same seats usually occupied by NFL players and contemplated the one-of-a-kind opportunity that lay ahead. As they networked with a group of "Buccaneer women," the girls answered questions as to their hopes and dreams for the future, and their plans to achieve those goals.
The girls then toured the Bucs training facility, getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a professional sports team. Many of the Buccaneer women leading the tour were former Girl Scouts themselves, and they took the excited group through the playing fields, the training and locker rooms and even the media center. The Girl Scouts were given an up-close look at the complexity of the business of football and the roles that are played behind the scenes, some of which they might eventually aspire to join.
"Our partnership with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enables girls to connect with women in leadership positions, to learn from them, be inspired by them and have the confidence that they can accomplish anything in the business world," said Kristin Whitaker, chief marketing and strategy officer for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. "As a community, we all play a part in helping to get her there and strong. Year-round partnerships such as ours with the Tampa Bay Bucs are critical to girls' leadership development. Their support of girls in our community shows that the Bucs care about the role girls will play as they grow and develop into young women who achieve their own dreams and ultimately will help shape our local economy."
A high point of the day for the assembled Scouts was a chance to hear from a panel of Buccaneer women leaders about their personal journeys and careers in professional sports. The most prominent messages to the girls were to be prepared (easy for Girl Scouts!), study hard, take on the tough assignments and seek out mentors who can help you throughout your career. And it doesn't hurt if you love sports! The most important message behind all of those valuable lessons, however, was to love whatever you do. Being passionate about your career makes work interesting and fun.
The session wrapped up with a lively Q&A session in which girls asked questions of the panelists, touching on such subjects as work-life balance, educational requirements, salaries, internships and most- and least-favorite activities. Many of the Scouts showed a keen interest in what happens on game day. And while many of the girls expected the day to strictly be about football, they discovered the business side that takes place off the field and incorporates many position players, including sales, marketing, special events, law, nutrition and training.
At the end of the day, the visiting Girl Scouts had a much greater understanding of the types of career opportunities available in professional sports, and many vowed to apply for internships when they reached college.
" The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are proud of their partnership with the Girl Scouts," said Eileen Sweeney, the Buccaneers' director of community relations and a Girl Scout herself. "We admire and support their vision of growing tomorrow's leaders. We look forward to having more opportunities to connect with the Girl Scouts and to help achieve their goal: 'To Get Her There.'"