Florida football: Gatormade program sends players to NYC to learn about different careers

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Florida football players appear at Nasdaq during their Gatormade trip to New York City over spring break. The trip was designed to expose players to different businesses in the city

Florida football players learned networking skills while being exposed to different businesses during a GatorMade program trip to New York City over spring break.

Florida senior director of player relations Savannah Bailey arranged the trip to continue GatorMade’s mission of creating more well-rounded student-athletes to prepare them for life after football.

Players toured 10 different corporations, including the NFL Offices, LinkedIn, Louis Vutton and Republic Records.

Bailey said players showed the most interest in the music and fashion industries.

“Creative talents and most people don't see football players as you know, ultimate creators, but they do,” Bailey said. “They have that side to them too, and I think getting to express that a little bit more freely. Use some talents, try some mixing boards, pick colorways.”

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For many of the 15 players, it was their first trip to the Big Apple. Florida receiver Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman was mesmerized by the skyscrapers on the approach into the city before landing.

“I felt like I was in a movie or something.” Chiaokhiao-Bowman said.

Bailey said the best part of the trip was seeing the players’ eyes light up.

“It's opportunity,” Bailey said. “Like most people haven't even traveled for anything other than football. So just to provide the exposure, that's the purpose of the trip and the experience that they have to get out and do something different.”

Chiaokhiao-Bowman said one of his favorite parts of the trip was going to the New York Stock Exchange.

“Just being out in New York, it's like, dang, these people grinding,” he said. “They're working, they're professionals, like they're young. And, you know, it's like, we have that same thing here at Florida, with our football. Everyone's passionate about playing football here, and the coaches are passionate about coaching here.”

Next up, South Africa

The next GatorMade initiative will start on Saturday, a service trip abroad to South Africa, with 14 players attending.

Last year, GatorMade took a service trip abroad to Greece. On that trip, 16 student-athletes, including 10 football players, aided refugees of Greek ethnicity who fled to Greece to escape their war-torn country.