STORRS, Conn. -
The UConn football team spent Friday night playing the annual Blue-White Spring Football Game as they prepared for the upcoming season.
On Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours later, they prepared for the rest of their lives.
The team held its 18th Annual Career Information Fair at The Burton Family Football Complex, bringing former UConn football players who are now successful in their chosen fields back to campus to talk to the current Huskies.
The event is organized each year by Director of UConn Football Alumni and Community Affairs Andy Baylock, who has been part of the Division of Athletics staff since 1964 and is entering his 15th year in this role. He was also the longtime UConn baseball coach and was a member of the football coaching staff.
"It's all about UConn football guys helping out other UConn football guys," said Baylock. "The former players love coming back to campus to talk to the current players and remind them that the sport does not last forever."
"I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life when I was playing football here," said Chris Bellamy, who played for the Huskies in the early 2000s and currently works for Aerotek, a job placement services company. "You have one idea of how life will go when you are playing football. I did not even know a job like I have today existed. I am happy to be here and have some conversations with the players about different opportunities that they will have when the leave UConn that they might not even know about."
UConn players attend the event from the time they are freshman until their senior year. Linebacker Vontae Diggs, who will be a senior this fall, appreciates the Career Information Fair a little bit more every year.
"When I was a freshman, I was not sure what this was all about," said Diggs. "I wasn't shy and I talked to a lot of the former players. It got me thinking that football will not be around forever and each year I come here I get something different out of it. I think it's great that both the young players and older guys come every year."
Dr. Leroy Williams recently retired from being the principal at Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy, a middle school in his native New Haven. Williams played for the Huskies in the mid-70s and thinks that football players make excellent teachers and educators.
"You have to have discipline and be organized to be a good teacher and you have to build a culture of everyone succeeding," said Williams. "Those are the same lessons you learn in football. In a classroom, you have 22 children and they are all different. They have different skill sets and different learning abilities. It's the job of a teacher to bring them together and have everyone succeed -- again, just like a football team. The quarterback can't succeed without the wide receivers. The defensive line can't succeed without linebackers. Teachers are the same...they bring everyone together."
Bill Cholawa, who was with the Huskies in the early 1980s, is now the Managing Director of Market Head for Central New England for UBS Financial Services, Inc. He was at the career fair with Zach Hurd, another former Husky player who Cholawa brought to the company.
Hurd, who graduated in 2010, is now a Wealth Planning Analyst for UBS after a short stint in the NFL.
"I had the worst luck in the NFL," said Hurd, who was with both the Seahawks and Raiders. "There was a lockout, I got hurt, we had system changes on my teams. But, after football was over, UConn and Coach Baylock were still there. I came to campus to visit Coach Baylock and he told me about Bill and contacted him on my behalf. Bill gave me a chance and I am so appreciative."
"Football players make good businessmen because in business you have to work with people that are different from you and are from different backgrounds," said Cholawa. "When you join a college football team, it is the same way and you have to adapt and learn about and appreciate people's differences."
"College sports is so much more organized than it was when I played," said Jim McClintock, who played for the Huskies in the early 1970s and is now an underwriting vice president for MAPFRE USA Insurance, Co. "Everything is structured and the players are very prepared. This career fair is great example of that and I enjoying coming every year.
"One of my first years here, I met and later mentored Byron Jones (now with the Dallas Cowboys after being a first round NFL Draft pick in 2015). I have stayed in touch with Byron and I am glad for his football success, but I know he will be a success after football as well."
In addition to those listed above, other former players who came back to the Career Information Fair were: Lou Allen, Director of Athletics at St. Thomas Moore School in Oakdale, Conn.; Terry Antrum, a police officer in Suffield, Conn.; Kyle Archer, an assistant football coach at Wesleyan University; Matt Ashmead and Cedric Baylor, who are both social workers for the State of Connecticut; Drew Bickel of GOW Consulting and Smart Tax., Co.; Bob Braswell, who works in Information Technology for Travelers, Inc.; Terry Clark, a territory manager for Medtronic, a medical device company; Mark DeCambre, of DXC Technologies; Rob Lunn, of Stryker medical devices; Craig Primiani, Executive Vice President of Labthink; John Salek, a vice president of Genpact LLC: Bob Sapiro, a police office in Bridgeport, Conn.; and Kevin Urso, a juvenile probation officer.