Greetings readers! It's Friyay and this week I'm pleased to feature Sealy Laidlaw, former Alpine Skier at Dartmouth College! Sealy graduated Cum Laude from Dartmouth and was a member of Sigma Delta Sorority, Order of Omega, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She finished 26th overall in the 2006 NCAA Championships (Giant Slalom), and her team finished 3rd in the country! Post-Dartmouth, Sealy went on to earn a MBA from Harvard Business School, where she graduated with Honors, and is now a VP at a private equity firm. Take a look at what she has to say about her athletic experiences!
GamePlan: If you could sum up your college athletic experience in one word, what would it be?
GamePlan: What is a lesson you learned while playing college athletics?
Sealy: Sports teaches you how to set both short-term and long-term goals, and work through challenges to achieve those goals.
GamePlan: What is one of the hardest moments you had to get through while playing college sports, and how did you get through it?
Sealy: Not making NCAA team freshman year. I took some time off, trained with my old coaches during the summer and tried to find the "fun" again. I also changed my dry-land conditioning program to make sure I was stronger than ever going into the following season.
GamePlan: All of those aspects are so important!
GamePlan: What is one of the hardest moments you had to get through while going through the recruiting process?
Sealy: Some of the coaches were very uncommunicative, and it was frustrating to feel like I didn’t have control over the process. It was also hard to stay objective and really think through where I wanted to go to school, versus only focusing on what coach/team I liked best. I knew I had to pick a school where I would get the best education and be happy irrespective of the team, in case things did not go as expected.
GamePlan: 100% yes!!
GamePlan: What is your favorite memory from playing college sports?
Sealy: Making NCAAs and the team getting 3rd place (first podium for the team in a few years).
GamePlan: What advice do you have for student-athletes who are trying to play at the collegiate level?
Sealy: Playing sports in college is more challenging than in high school due to both the heightened level of the competition, and the greater number of competing priorities and opportunities. I think a big challenge of many college athletes is they've been the stars of their pre-college teams, but they get to a bigger playing field and might not be the star anymore. Given the number of other things they could be doing with their time, devoting so much time and energy to practice and competition becomes more of an opportunity-cost, especially if they feel like they are no longer the star.
GamePlan: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything? If so, what would you do differently?
Sealy: No – the two years I spent competing for the ski team were incredibly challenging and rewarding, and a big part of my college experience. I proved to myself that I had what it took to compete at the collegiate level, and also really enjoyed being part of a team and having the built-in support network for my first few semesters of college. I'm also really glad I stuck with it for two years, despite a tough first season, because had I quit after only one year, I always would have wondered if I did so because it was too hard. By going back the second year and doing well, I proved to myself I could do it, and then got to make a choice about quitting (or as I like to think about it after 12+ years of racing, retiring), on my own terms.
GamePlan: What are you up to now?
Sealy: I currently live in the Bay Area, and work in San Francisco at a private equity firm. I spent a few years in New York right after graduating from college, but missed access to the outdoors, so I moved back out west and started working in technology in 2010. After a few years of working for Salesforce in Sales Strategy, I got my MBA from Harvard, and then ran operations for a small tech company for the past few years before moving to my current job in private equity. I married another former athlete, and while our glory days are over, we continue to be highly competitive so we only play sports or games together when we can be on the same team.
GamePlan: What role did athletics play in helping you get to where you are now?
Sealy: Athletics taught me work ethic, perseverance, structure, time management, flexibility and adaptability. As I now hire and build teams, I always look for athletes and musicians because they know how to set goals, how to break down those goals into achievable milestones, and how to work through difficulties. They also appreciate the importance of putting in the work in the pursuit of excellence, and they are very outcome-oriented.
Thank you, Sealy!! Take it from someone who hires people in the real world - being a college athlete not only helps you learn valuable tangible skills, but also is a big asset on your resume! Inspiring words to keep in mind. Have a great weekend and tune in next week!