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Preparing for the Future

Fran McMenamin, college athlete and former Marine, reflects on experience at Career in Sports Forum

By Fran McMenamin as told to Kyle C. Leach

Fran McMenamin (left) talks with Butler volleyball coach Sharon Clark at the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum, which was June 2-5 in Indianapolis. (JUSTIN TAFOYA/NCAA PHOTOS)

Fran McMenamin plays offensive line on the football team at Division II East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. A native of Philadelphia, he is a senior sport management major and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines. He initially began his college experience out of high school, but due to costs, he enlisted in the Marines. McMenamin, 31, was among 200 student-athletes selected to participate in the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum after being nominated by East Stroudsburg athletic trainer Wendy Dietrich.

I took the opportunity to learn a lot at the forum. I learned about applying for jobs. I learned what to change in my resume. I learned how to make my “elevator pitch” for when I start searching for a job.

My favorite thing was learning about personality traits, your strengths and weaknesses. I think one of the toughest questions in a job interview is, "What are your weaknesses?" I didn’t know how to put that into words. The DISC assessment helped you. When someone asks you in an interview, you can say, "This is my weakness. This is what I'm doing to fix it." After getting our assessments at the forum, you were able to sit at a table with all like-minded people. You think, "Am I the only one that thinks like this?" Then, I got to meet a dozen other people that think the same way. It was really interesting.

My advice to other participants attending the forum is make sure you sit at a different table every day. You want to meet as many people as possible. That's the whole reason for this: meeting people. That definitely would be the No. 1 thing to do.

I met a lot of great people from all over the country. I met a water polo athlete from California, an SEC football player and a women's rower. From the speakers and the presenters, you learn networking and branding. I think a lot of us struggle with what stuff to put on Facebook.

The speakers were engaging. Clyde Doughty Jr., athletics director at Bowie State and emcee at the forum, provided my favorite quote of the week: "Reach, teach and educate." To me, those are powerful words.

McMenamin, a rising senior offensive lineman at East Stroudsburg, aspires to be a football coach following the end of his playing career. (PHOTO COURTESY OF EAST STROUDSBURG ATHLETICS)

I want to be an offensive line coach. To me, that's a brotherhood. It's such a unique position, not just in football, but in all sports. I want to be a family guy. I did this in the Marine Corps when I was second in my shop as a military policeman in Afghanistan. I want to make my football unit a family. I want to mentor people and just help them grow.

Coaching is leadership, and I think as a Marine that really helps me. There's always room to grow, but as a Marine and as a corporal Marine, you know that leadership. Football is relationships and leadership. I had been away from football for five or six years when I returned, so I was learning all over again and using muscles you never used before. To play the game, you just need to know the X’s and O’s and the intricacies of football. That's what I was missing when I returned to college football, and I got that from ESU. Head coach Denny Douds has a son who is a colonel in the Marines Corps. If anyone was going to understand me as a vet, it was him. It made it easy to make that decision.

I think offensive linemen have a unique appreciation for football. We're not in the spotlight. There's lots of technique involved in the O-line. It's not just physical attributes. It's more of a mental game, it's technique.  It all starts from the bottom up; footwork is really important. With the offensive line, speed and strength can only take you so far. You have to study your opponent. You have to have great technique. Coach Mike Santella, the offensive line coach at East Stroudsburg, saw the techniques didn't come natural to me. He was real patient with me. He taught me everything I know.

You have to really love what you're going to do if you want to get into coaching football. Cory Connolly, a graduate assistant coach at Ball State, spoke on the intern and graduate assistant panel at the forum. I knew assistant coaches worked a lot, but he said he works 80 to 90 hours a week. It makes you think. I didn't second-guess after he said he really loves what he does. I want to coach football. I talked to him after the panel, and we just talked about what I can do after graduation to get into coaching.