By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer
Division I athletes pour their hearts, souls and time into playing their sports at the highest level to the best of their ability. With so much of their life devoted to the game, many cannot imagine life without sports — so they simply don’t.
Multiple Baylor athletes are looking to pursue a career in the sports sector and in that way, they never have to fully say goodbye to the thing they love.
Baylor softball junior outfielder McKenzie Wilson is a fifth-year senior and thinking about the next steps after collegiate ball.
“I love sports. I always tell people this, that I’m not going to be able to play softball forever,” Wilson said. “I still have another year of eligibility after, and man, my body is hurting. So I know there is a time I’m going to hang up the cleats and say goodbye to playing on the softball field.”
However, the ominous day of leaving the diamond for the last time does not scare Wilson. She has no intention of leaving the world of sports.
“I feel like I’ll still be able to share my passion for sports with the world through sports broadcasting, whether it’s sideline reporting [or] whether it’s being a TV news anchor,” Wilson said.
The Long Beach, Calif., native realized her passion for reporting in high school.
Wilson’s first time in front of a camera was during a week long week broadcasting camp. Initially, Wilson said she was nervous but once the camera turned on her personality started to shine through.
“Several people have told me that I look very comfortable in front of the camera and that I speak well,” Wilson said. “Receiving those affirmations kind of was like OK, this is for me.”
From there, Wilson entered university as a mass communications and broadcast- journalism major and never looked back.
Additionally, being a Baylor student athlete has allowed her to make connections with others in this profession and in this way, Wilson has a leg up going into the professional world.
“The platform that student athletes have, especially with NIL, allows us to make connections,” Wilson said. “It’s all about the people you know.”
For some student athletes the privilege of name, and likeness has aided them to get a foot in the door professionally.
In fact, an NIL deal was how Baylor volleyball’s Faith Lynch landing an internship with Sicem365, a sports news source focused on Baylor athletics. The red-shirt freshman was at a tailgate with Sicem365 as part of an NIL deal, when she started talking with Ashley Hodge, about her hope to one day be a sideline reporter.
“I was kind of telling him what I want to do, what I think I want to do,” Lynch said. “He was like ‘Well we’re always looking for females to come on staff or to intern. I would love to give you the opportunity to sit and listen.’”
In July, Lynch started hosting her own podcast. On “Dear Sports with Faith Lynch,” the sixth-generation Baylor Bear gets to explore what she loves and share other athletes’ stories. As an athlete herself, Lynch said she has a passion for showing that athletes are more than just their sports.
“I want people to see that we’re actual people and there are [other] things about us. I like to bake. I like to do other things. And so I want people’s stories to be shared in a special way,” Lynch said.
Lynch said student athletes may have an advantage when looking for a career in sports, especially coming from Baylor.
“We have Student Athletes Center for Excellence, SACE, and they do a great job of providing us with resources,” Lynch said. “I recently just applied to a Nike internship for communications. I never would have even thought about that.”
Baylor soccer junior defender Sarah Hornyak just completed an internship at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., this summer. Hornyak got a glimpse of what working in sports would look like and it solidified her career path.
Initially, Hornyak said she was hesitant going into the internship because she didn’t feel as if she was qualified. Division I soccer is a full time job, so she had limited exposure to internships prior.
However, being an athlete, she was able to provide a unique perspective because she relates to Nike’s mission on a different level.
“I play soccer every day. ‘Why not use your sport to help you?’ That’s what my mom told me.” Hornak said. “ ‘So, what if you’re using it as a crutch if it helps you?’ So, I was able to talk about experiences as an athlete.”
Hornyak is a Sports, Strategy and Sales major and said she is excited to continue working in this field.
“I’m doing [S3] right now and it’s really cool to be learning all about working in sports,” Hornyak said. “The connections in S3 are insane.”
Baylor athletes dream big and are on their way to do big things off the field or court. Maybe in the future you will see Lynch’s name on ESPN, Wilson’s podcast on faith and sports or Hornyak’s impact in the sales and strategy realm. In a few years they may not be playing on the field for the green and gold, but they will always be connected to something they love.