Life after sports: Ball State student-athletes reflect on their time as Cardinals before embarking on future careers.

<p>Senior setter Quinn Isaacson serves the ball Feb 27, 2021, in John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Buckeyes. <strong>Rylan Capper, DN</strong></p>

Senior setter Quinn Isaacson serves the ball Feb 27, 2021, in John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Buckeyes. Rylan Capper, DN

Imagine you are graduating college. You are only a few moments away from being done with the education system for the rest of your life. But that worries you, because it is all you have ever known. So, you wonder, “What comes next?” 

These three Ball State seniors have already answered that question.

While many college graduates enter the job market right after receiving their diplomas without a position secured, senior swimmer Ryan Short was able to get a job before graduation. Having already completed an internship, he has an offer he plans on accepting in corporate finance. Corporate financiers typically advise companies on decisions regarding long-term and short-term fiscal goals.

Short attributes his ability to secure a job before graduation to setting aside time for networking and researching companies. He said his internship was what sold him on corporate finance. 

“I preferred the hands-on experience compared to the classroom setting,” Short said. “Getting an internship is something I highly recommend.” 

In the 2019-20 season, Short took eighth in the 1650 free at the Mid-American Conference Championships with a time of 16:04.92, which was the fifth-fastest individual time in program history.

Short’s message for every student, not just student-athletes, is to plan ahead for the future. Similar to Short, Ball State Men’s Volleyball graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson has also accepted a job offer, but Isaacson’s future profession is something he spends time on now and has throughout his whole collegiate career: volleyball.

In fall 2022, Isaacson will be an assistant coach for University of Kentucky Women’s Volleyball. Two members of the current coaching staff, head coach Craig Skinner and associate head coach Anders Nelson, also graduated from Ball State. Skinner graduated in 1993, while Nelson graduated in 2011. 

Skinner previously served as an assistant coach for the Ball State Men’s Volleyball team for two seasons and was a coach for the Munciana Volleyball Club. Nelson graduated summa cum laude and received his bachelor’s degree in financing and accounting. In 2018, Nelson earned his master’s degree in business administration from Kentucky. 

“Next year, going to Kentucky, I hope to build a lot of experience, especially with that staff,” Isaacson said. “It’s been great because, obviously, coach Skinner and coach Nelson both are Ball State alumni, so it’s easy to connect with them.” 

Although Isaacson is just starting his coaching career at Kentucky, he said he sees himself running his own collegiate volleyball program one day. He said he hopes to get a full-time job working in Division I and would love to coach girls’ volleyball for a long time, but his ultimate goal is to have it all come full circle and coach a collegiate men’s volleyball team.

Graduate student Melissa Diceman kicks the ball against Akron on Oct. 3, 2021, at Briner Sports Complex in Muncie, IN. Amber Pietz, DN

“I really want to make my way back to guys’ volleyball,” Isaacson said. “I enjoy men’s volleyball.”

Isaacson believes college has prepared him for his future through accountability. He said he thinks respecting others and treating people how they would like to be treated will be crucial to his coaching career. 

Once he receives his diploma, Isaacson said playing for the Cardinals and representing his school is what he will miss the most. Isaacson made an impact on the court, playing in 16 matches and recording a career-high 67 assists — earning All-MIVA Second Team in 2020. 

“This is a very, very close group,” Isaacson said. “We’ve been close ever since I got here. It was a family-based team, which is what I came from and was part of why I chose to come here.” 

As a final message to student-athletes, Isaacson emphasized the importance of being yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself —  that’s the best version of you,” Isaacson said. “When you alter the way you play, the way you act, that is when you see decreases in your game — not even your game, just your relationship with coaches and teammates.” 

Showing no fear when it comes to standing out was a similar idea Ball State Soccer graduate student midfielder/forward Melissa Diceman emphasized.

“Go out of your comfort zone,” Diceman said. “Do what makes you uncomfortable because it usually works out in your favor and just explore.”

In the 2020-21 season, Diceman started all 10 games and scored the second-most goals on the team with three. She also led the team with two game-winning goals. She finished her career with four goals and four assists, contributing to 12 points. 

After Diceman graduates, she has a few goals she would like to accomplish. Her plan is to get into the field of human resources, specifically banking, and she plans on moving back to her hometown of Toronto and working for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Human resource professionals oversee the hiring and training of new employees for a respective company, and the human resources representative is normally seen as the main link between the corporate office and the employees. 

As she prepares to graduate, Diceman said she thinks she’ll miss the atmosphere of a college town and the proximity to her friends the most. While she said her college career has gone by quickly, she encourages underclassmen not to be afraid.

While each of these students have different stories and they participate in different sports, they all have one thing in common. Through planning for the future and putting themselves out there, these individual Cardinals have given themselves a starting point on the path to their future.

Contact Corbin Hubert with comments at or on Twitter @corbin_hubert_.


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