'Flight School' will prepare student-athletes

Boston College Athletics has announced the launch of a new program to help BC student-athletes plan and prepare for life after graduation.

The program, titled “Flight School,” is aimed at providing student-athletes with more opportunities to gain real-work experience before graduation, especially within constraints of year-round team obligations like practice, competitions and travel on top of their normal academic load.

Flight School connects current student-athletes with a network of Boston College alumni and their colleagues who have volunteered to serve as the student-athletes’ council and resource in the professional world. This network would provide a variety of opportunities, from informational interviews about vocations to internships or jobs to qualified student-athletes.

Brad Bates
BC Athletics Director Brad Bates

The annual goal of Flight School, according to Athletics Director Brad Bates, is that 90 percent of BC student-athletes have post-graduate plans by the time they receive their diplomas.

“Flight School represents layers of great connections and mutually beneficial relationships that ultimately serve our students, past, present and future,” Bates said. 

The program builds on recent efforts by Bates along with other Athletics administrators and staff, including Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development Alison Quandt, to help student-athletes discern and identify post-graduation plans, whether employment, graduate school, professional sports, and volunteer or activism work.

For the 2013-14 academic year, Bates set a goal of 70 percent of graduating student-athletes to have definitive post-graduation plans, and 80 percent for 2014-15 – both of which were achieved.

“Our goal every year is to have at least 90 percent of our student-athletes with a job on the day they graduate and, to my knowledge, no other athletic departments have established such a lofty goal,” he said.

Tony Skarupa ’84, father of BC women’s hockey player Haley ’16, has taken a leadership role in the program. Early on during the planning stages for Flight School, Skarupa had approached Bates about creating opportunities for BC student-athletes to explore post-graduation options. He then collaborated with Quandt in recruiting alumni advocates to be part of the Flight School network.

“Here are kids who are naturally driven, very dedicated and have a solid work ethic, but also bring in a confidence and a level of poise and maturity that differentiates them. When you think about trying to hire talent for a business, those intangibles are what tends to set people apart,” Skarupa said.

Bates sees a great potential for the program, not only in the near term, but also as graduates move on and become active with future student-athletes.

“We are fortunate to have engaged alumni serving as tremendous resources – as mentors and employers – while instilling in our current and future students a sense of service to later become resources after graduation and those who follow them. This program has the potential to have a real, tangible impact on our student-athletes for years to come.”