Like many student-athletes competing at the collegiate level, University of Southern Maine’s Nicole Laplante knew that there was a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved in the day-to-day operation of an a NCAA Division III athletic program. However, in her new role as Athletic Department Intern, Laplante has gained a greater appreciation for the efforts of her former coaches, administrators and University staff as a whole.
Not the first member of her family to graduate from the University of Southern Maine, nor the first to proudly wear a Huskies’ uniform, a number of Laplante’s relatives have attended USM. Her aunt Sue Donovan played three sports for the Huskies as a member of the field hockey, basketball and softball teams, while her uncle Kevin D’amboise played both soccer and hockey, and her father Dan, although not a student-athlete, served as the women’s basketball statistician for Doc Costello. With numerous aunts, uncles and other relatives who have attended USM, Huskies’ fans can usually find a Laplante on a Huskies’ roster – this Fall, Nicole’s younger sister, Aimee, was a freshman on the women’s soccer team.
Wrapping up her academic career with a degree in communication in the spring of 2015, Laplante was a two-sport student-athlete for the Huskies’ competing as a member of the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams. With her degree in hand last spring, and with a desire to work in athletics, Laplante explored her options … And, luckily for USM, she accepted a position as the Athletic Department Intern for the 2015-2016 year.
In her role, Laplante has had a chance to help the Huskies’ athletic department facilitate its numerous events, including its annual Husky Hall of Fame Banquet, the William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete Awards Night, and has been able to assist in the day-to-day function of the department. Laplante has spent time “on the mic” providing commentary to the Huskies’ men’s and women’s soccer broadcast, and has helped create, and update several brochures and programs, including a newly designed Huskies’ Full Potential brochure.
“So far my experience has been great,” said Laplante. “I appreciate that I am involved in a variety of things that I don’t necessarily think I’d have the chance to experience with a traditional entry-level job. I’ve been able to try out a bunch of things and see where my interests lie.”
While Laplante’s certainly gaining experience through the internship, her valuable contributions to the Huskies’ athletic department have not gone unnoticed, as she was recently selected to attend the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar at the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis.
“Nikki has done an outstanding job as an administrative intern and this opportunity is recognition of her potential in the profession,” said USM Director of Athletics, Al Bean. “Participation in this conference will expose her to a wealth of knowledge, and give her the opportunity to network with leaders and mentors from across the nation and will open doors to move forward and advance as a young professional. This should be a great learning experience for Nikki; she is prepared and I look forward to her personal growth and development as a result of her involvement.”
An annual professional development event, the NCAA’s Emerging Leaders Seminar (ELS) provides three-days worth of programming to more than 200 graduate assistants and interns from NCAA member institutions. During the course of the three-day event, participants will be provided leadership, educational and transitional programming as well as the opportunity to meet with nearly 100 leaders in the field during a networking luncheon.
“This is a great opportunity and I am very happy to be able to participate in the Emerging Leaders Seminar,” said Laplante. “Participation in athletics has the potential to be a transformative experience. As a student-athlete I have experienced the strong impact first hand. Playing at the collegiate level gave me confidence, leadership skills, communication skills, taught me the value of hard work and commitment, and developed my ability to overcome adversity. Although, I am not sure what I want to do formally in my career, I want to ensure that other student-athletes have the chance to develop the same life skills that I was able to because of the support I received at USM. I am looking forward to the Emerging Leaders Seminar and hope that after the seminar I will return back to USM with more confidence, knowledge about athletic administration, the operations of the NCAA and that I will be able to apply what I’ve learned in the future.”
Successful on and off the field, finishing her three-year lacrosse career tied for 11th in career-goals with 70, Laplante is a three-time recipient of the Huskies’ William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete Award (2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015). Given her ability to achieve, USM Athletics is assured of Nicole’s future success in her career path, and we look forward to hearing about her experience at the NCAA’s Emerging Leaders Seminar.
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