Many of Ball State's football student-athletes are spending their summers working as interns at various businesses in the Muncie community.
The jobs help keep the student-athletes in the area to utilize the strength and conditioning facilities at Scheumann Stadium, while allowing them to build a resume for life after college.
"The overall development of our student-athletes is a primary part of our mission as a football program and it is something I take great pride in personally," Ball State head coach Pete Lembo says. "Some of our players will have an opportunity to play at the next level, but all of our guys need to be ready to make a successful transition to the real world. Their football experience is a big help, but nothing replaces an internship. We are very grateful for the strong relationships we have built with many local businesses in a very short period of time. A positive by-product of this internship program is that many community members get to establish a personal relationship with a student-athlete. This makes following our team in the fall more meaningful."
Ball State senior offensive lineman Austin Holtz is working at the Youth Opportunity Center in Muncie for the second straight summer.
"I enjoy the experience and the opportunity to be a positive role model to the boys I work with on a daily basis," Holtz says. "I try to teach them to have goals and try to keep them on track towards reaching those goals. I try and get them to realize not everyone is perfect and we all make mistakes, but it is a testimony to them on how they handle the adversity and respond to mistakes. It is extremely gratifying when you hear the stories of how the young people have changed their lives for the better.
Joseph Fazio is a junior free safety majoring in finance at Ball State and is working at Jarden, Inc., in Daleville, Ind.
"Working as an intern at Jarden this summer has been an incredible opportunity for my career," Fazio says. "Thanks to Coach Lembo's investment in our futures and the good relationships in the community, I have been able to work out with my team to achieve our goals, while meaningfully contributing to a Fortune 400 corporation on a daily basis. I have been exposed to real life corporate experiences and this internship increases my marketability so I am more competitive in the job market when I graduate."
Through the efforts of Lembo and his staff, the Muncie community has been supportive of the football program's efforts to help educate the student-athletes and provide them with real life experiences.
"MutualBank has been thrilled with the quality of football student-athletes we have utilized as interns," Dave Heeter, chief executive officer at MutualBank, says. "We have provided the opportunity for students to experience the current business world, while effectively completing activities that are important to our organization. The opportunity for students to interact with "teammates" in the workplace can give them a real advantage after graduation and hopefully compliment their ability to contribute to the football program."
Some of the Cardinals upperclassmen are enrolled in summer classes in order to remain on track for graduation. In addition, the Cardinals initiated a summer bridge program in 2011 where all freshmen attend classes during the second summer session to help begin their college academic careers on the right foot.
"Mursix Corporation is honored to be a part of the summer internship program with Ball State," Todd Murray, president of Mursix Corporation, says. "We understand Coach Lembo's vision and overall philosophy of the program. Mursix has filled imperative and critical short term needs with talented young professionals. The interns we have had have represented themselves and the university with a high degree of integrity and credibility. It will be our pleasure to continue with this effort as the program is meaningful for both Mursix and Ball State, but more importantly for the young men and women who choose to participate."