Beau Gamble Reflects On Unique Opportunity With Pac-12
BOULDER - Beau Gamble, the charismatic former walk-on whose savvy use of social media made him a household name to University of Colorado basketball fans, took advantage of a unique opportunity last summer: working with the Pac-12 as a part of the conference's elite student-athlete internship program.
Sitting in a local sandwich spot, Gamble speaks of the program with the same candor and enthusiasm that made him a CU favorite.
"The overall experience, I wouldn't trade it for anything," says Gamble. "The relationships you build, the friends you make, it was a great time and I wouldn't trade it for the world."
For Gamble, the experience started last year, when he was still a senior wearing black and gold and playing in the Coors Events Center. At that point, the Pac-12 student-athlete internship program was relatively new, about to begin its second year in operation. Robert Keyser, who serves as the Vice President of University Relations for the Pac-12, describes the program as "in its infancy" but still a program the conference is very proud of. Students like Gamble are recommended by their respective university, after which they go through another process to receive the job.
"We take a graduating student athlete from each of our 12 schools," explains Keyser. "We go through a process for each of the schools to identify interested and qualified candidates. We first identify student athletes in good standing who have expressed an interest in sports media as a potential career path and we whittle down the list of candidates to a short group of finalists".
During his application process, Gamble wasn't alone, enlisting the help of the athletic department, his academic advisors, men's basketball head coach Tad Boyle, and former women's basketball coach Ceal Barry.
"Once I found out about the program I told coach Boyle, and coach Boyle pushed me to help get me there," says Gamble. "I had a close relationship with Ceal Barry who made some calls and even my academic advisor, Mindy Sclaro, who does academic advising for men's basketball, helped me a lot with it."
Before he knew it, the now-former Buff was off to San Francisco, living in his own apartment, working 40 hours a week, and helping out in the programming department of the Pac-12 Networks. In programming, Gamble was able to get hands-on experience working on projects that made it onto network television, such as the 2001 Big 12 Championship game between CU and the University of Texas, which was aired on the Pac-12 Network as part of its Classics segment.
But that wasn't all Gamble did while in the Pac-12 offices. Keyser, who worked with Gamble during the summer, noted Gamble's eagerness to take on extra work and challenges.
"He got involved in some real neat analysis of social media, and he had some really good ideas on what we can do with Snapchat and some of the other social platforms that the Pac-12 hasn't been as active in," recalls Keyser. "So that's one of the things I would say for him, he went and sought out other opportunities even over and above his day to day work assignments which is a great thing."
Working in an office wasn't Gamble's only activity in San Francisco. One particularly interesting part of the internship is a set of programs called Lunch and Learns. Every week or two, the conference brings in a senior executive for up to an hour and a half to talk to interns. The speakers range from Lydia Murphy-Stephans, the president of the Pac-12 Networks, to conference commissioner Larry Scott.
Gamble also was given the opportunity to sit with Pac-12 Networks host Mike Yam, and talk with him about his path to the West Coast. Keyser says that the Lunch and Learns have received very positive feedback from members of the participants of the internship, and is an "important part of the program."
These additional components of the internship are specific to student-athletes, who have taken full advantage of what has been offered to them. Keyser says that the conference has hired a "handful of interns," based on their performance and work-ethic. Keyser also notes this type of work-ethic, and believes that it sets some student-athletes apart from normal students.
"The student athletes that come from team sports have really good experience working in a team dynamic and really flourish in that environment," Keyser says. "They work hard, they have great work ethic, and they're elite in the way they approach problems and getting things done. We see that."
To Keyser, who had interns with him in the Partner Services division, the program is a way of affirming the conference's commitment to developing student-athletes off the playing field. In a world where questions regarding what student-athletes do when they graduate are prevalent, Keyser responds that the Pac-12 is there to help their own, and groom them to become great people, not only great athletes.
"We believe in that mission and that we're going to invest in graduates as not only athletes but as future business leaders and leaders of that nature," says Keyser. "And it's something we've talked a lot about internally, it's something that we've invested in, in terms of putting resources into this program."
Gamble credits his work ethic to being a former student-athlete, and the responsibility he learned while with CU basketball. To the former point guard, the notion of waking up early every morning and understanding you have tasks to complete is "embedded in you."
"When you have to wake up at 5:30 to get to a 6 a.m. lift, your teammates and your coaches are counting on you to be there. You have a responsibility to yourself and to your teammates," Gamble says. "When you take those things and apply them into the real world, it makes getting up at 7 and working out before 9 and your real world job easier."
The real world has come on fast for Gamble, who is now back in Boulder and is looking to enter the world of commercial real estate. While the program taught him that sports media wasn't his preferred career choice, he left San Francisco with a new perspective and an appreciation for CU and the Pac-12's development and commitment to student-athletes. He still remains close to CU basketball, and wants to help his fellow teammates, believing that this experience would be good for other Buffaloes.
"I absolutely would recommend the program from the basis of a learning standpoint and if you don't know what you want to do right away and you don't have a job locked in, apply for this because this gives you an idea," says Gamble. "I'm so glad I did it, especially growing up here (in Boulder). I know that none of the guys are from the Bay Area, so it would be great for any of them."
As the program enters its third year, Keyser sees the potential for expansion, and a reinvigorated commitment to student-athletes throughout the Pac-12.
"We're committed to it, we believe that it's valuable," says Keyser. "We've received very positive feedback from the participants and from the athletic departments about it. We're going to keep doing everything within our power to move it forward."