By: Director of Athletic Communication & Public Relations Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- From the time he was a young child directing his teammates on the soccer field to directing referees to a dressing room or an opposing team to its locker room in the Ursprung Gymnasium at Baldwin Wallace University or teaching foot-skills to young children at the Force Fitness Center in Rocky River or running the video scoreboard at The George Finnie Stadium for the NPSL's Eastern Region-champion Cleveland Soccer Club or playing either midfield or forward for Reid Ayers Yellow Jackets the last four years, 2020 graduate Cannon Dees has always been in charge and ahead of the curve.
An Excellent Candidate for A Prestigious Opportunity
That's what made Cannon Dees an excellent candidate to receive one of the nation's most prestigious internships in collegiate athletics. This fall, Dees will move from Berea to nearby Westlake to begin a yearlong internship with NACDA, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, which has long been considered the "cream of the crop" when it comes to internships in college athletics.
"I am excited to step into the business world of collegiate athletics," said Dees, who co-owns his own soccer foot-skills company with a former high school teammate and already sold his rights to the digital multimedia portion of the company while he was at BW. "This is a career path that has always interested me, and it provides me a great learning opportunity from the very best in the business."
The Video Skills That Were Necessary to Attract a Key Employer
"One of the big things that drew us to Cannon was his experience in video production," said Dana Leroy, Manager of the Internship Program at NACDA. "With the collegiate athletics industry very quickly relying on digital platforms to carry out daily tasks, we are looking to expand our knowledge and capabilities even more in terms of video in-house.
"As Cannon is a student-athlete, we also knew he was a candidate who already exhibited many of the soft skills employers are looking for – including coachability, time management, attention to detail and a strong work ethic."
While working for the BW athletic communications office as a soccer student-athlete, one of Dees duties following both home and away soccer games was interviewing a fellow student-athlete and then posting it to the University web site in a timely manner. He also became an extremely good storyteller whether it was via video or in written form.
Dees Gained Excellence in Many Areas to Become Marketable
"At NACDA you learn about everything that it takes to run and operate an athletics program at the Division I, II, III, NAIA or Junior College level from the best in the industry," said retiring BW Director of Athletics Kris A. Diaz '79, who is leaving his alma mater after 12 years as AD and 22 years overall and after more than 40 years in intercollegiate athletics leadership and coaching.
"Cannon has had a variety of internships and experiences during the past four years and has learned a great deal in many different areas on our campus and off of it," said Diaz. "By working in athletics and university relations and at private clubs and with professional groups and teams, the experiences he has gained have given him a great advantage over others who applied for the opportunity. Plus, he participated four years as a student-athlete and learned the values of teamwork, dedication and commitment."
At NACDA, Dees will work with the nation's foremost professional staff that has 17 affiliates that handle virtually every single aspect of sport that operates within the umbrella of intercollegiate athletics.
What Will Dees Learn from a NACDA Internship?
"Cannon will be assigned to as small group of our 17 affiliate associations that he will work with primarily throughout the year," said Leroy. "Working in a more traditional office setting is often an adjustment for our interns, especially for those who have just finished their athletic careers. Part of the mission is teach each of our interns how to navigate our internal computer programs and database systems and communicate internally."
For BW grads like Dees and former NACDA interns like Doug Kose '98 and Andy Schultz '17 and current NACDA Vice President Julie Work '98, it helped that each spent time working either in the BW athletic communications office or athletics department as a student assistant.
"NACDA is very proud of its Cleveland roots, and any time we have had the opportunity to bring a local Northeastern Ohio individual in as an intern, we have been fortunate to do so," said Leroy. "Both Julie Work and Andy Schultz have made a great impact on NACDA over the years, and we are confident that Cannon Dees '20 will work hard and do the same for our organization."a
Looking Forward to the Opportunity
"One of the things that I am looking forward to the most is the diversity of the job," said Dees. "NACDA is such a diverse organization with 17 different and exciting affiliations. I am looking forward to learning the nuances of each situation. I'm also excited to be at the forefront of what may be the new job opportunities of the future in intercollegiate athletics."
"This is a terrific accomplishment and honor for Cannon," said Sports and Media Indformation Director Jeff Miller '96. "He was a key asset for the past four years in the Office of Athletic Communications while also being a leader on the soccer field for Coach Ayers and his staff. I'm proud that Cannon will take all that experience he has learned to NACDA."
A Focused Dees With A Can-Do Attitude
On the soccer field, Dees maintained a can-do and focused attitude and demeanor that his teammates gravitated to and were led by. He was respected by both his teammates and coaches.
"Cannon was always very focused on setting goals and putting in the work to achieve on the field and in the classroom," said BW veteran Head Coach Reid Ayers, the winningest men's and women's soccer coach in school history. "He was very involved in so many groups on campus. Based on his varied experiences, I believe that Cannon had a very productive four years maximizing his time on campus gaining valuable insight that will serve him well as he begins the next phase of his life."
Ayers also feels that Dees can-do attitude will be a key to his success at NACDA and in a career in athletics.
"Cannon has an infectious personality and he works and interacts well with others," said Ayers, who coached Dees all four years at BW. "His easy-going manner and focus on the task at hand allow to him to lead naturally and effectively."
Hoping That Choosing the BW Difference Pays A Long-Term Dividend
Dees, who originally had planned on attending another Division III school, and changed his mind and decided to stay closer to home and become a Yellow Jacket for Life after speaking directly with BW's Dr. Charles Campisi, who manages the school's sport management program
"I believe what we call "The BW Difference" is the wonderful relationships we build with our professors and others both on and off campus," said Dees. "They provide each student with the resources and the opportunities, like this one at NACDA, that launch us on to unbelievable careers in the future.
"Professors like Dr. Charles Campisi and administrators like Mr. Diaz create an awesome atmosphere and do a great job of making sure each student graduates with experiences they're able to learn and speak about easily during the interview process, and that applies to all classes and experiences, not just the one's in sport management."
The Next Step
"While I don't have an answer of what my next step or job will be after NACDA at this time," said Dees. "I do know that I look forward to experiencing a diverse array of different areas of collegiate athletics, finding what I like best, making plenty of great connections and networking with some outstanding leaders within collegiate athletics and hopefully making a meaningful difference in my year at NACDA.
"Then, I can make a very well-rounded and conscious decision about that next step, whether it's at a school, an organization like the NCAA or another. We'll see. I'm just excited to get started!"