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Texas A&M Athletics, Grafted Unveil ‘Aggie Athlete Network’ to Boost Lifelong Athlete Outcomes

The new app will leverage video-first technology platform to help fulfill key athlete outcomes like preparing current and former student-athletes for careers
Credit: kags

COLLEGE STATION, Texas —  The Texas A&M Athletics Department launched the ‘Aggie Athlete Network,’ an online community for current and former student-athletes, in partnership with Grafted, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based education technology company.

 

The Aggie Athlete Network represents a groundbreaking interdepartmental collaboration among Texas A&M’s Student-Athlete Support Services, the 12th Man Foundation, and the Aggies’ Lettermen’s Association. The new app will leverage Grafted’s video-first technology platform to help fulfill key athlete outcomes like preparing current and former student-athletes for career, caring for student-athlete well-being, and engaging former student-athletes.

 

Grafted’s technology platform is the underlying system enabling Texas A&M Athletics to provide the Aggie Athlete Network to its student-athletes and former student-athletes. The Network integrates greater access to both career exploration and career opportunities for all A&M student-athletes. By investing in the Aggie Athlete Network app, A&M Athletics plans to leverage the power of its nationwide former student-athletes network to help current and former student-athletes find rewarding careers in life after sports. The Network also expands former student-athletes opportunities to stay connected with each other and to play a more active role in the athletic department. 

 

Despite only launching in March of 2020, Grafted is quickly being adopted by forward-thinking athletic departments across the country, including those in the Big-12, Big-10, Conference USA and Ivy League. 

 

“What gets me excited is that we now have one online community where all our student-athletes, all our Aggie former student-athletes, and all our Aggie employer partners can find each other, learn from each other, and help each other find career fulfillment,” Deputy Athletics Director Justin Moore said. “We aspire to better equip our student-athletes and that is a team effort which includes all of us in the Aggie Network.

 

Lettermen’s Association Director Cathy Capps sees the potential to deepen former student-athletes’ connections to the university. “The last year forced us to quickly adapt in order to stay relevant in the lives of our letterwinners. With limited on-campus engagement, we needed new ways to empower them to serve current student-athletes and to stay connected to life in College Station and each other. The reception so far to the [Aggie Athlete Network] app has been great.”

 

“Wherever Aggies are in their career trajectory, they can benefit from staying connected. The Aggie Athlete Network allows former student-athletes to reconnect with college friends, find Aggies who share their interests, and expand their professional networking opportunities,” Lauren Hickey, Director of Donor Relations - Major Gifts in the 12th Man Foundation, said.

 

Connecting Student-Athletes to Career Opportunity

“The more opportunities we can expose our student-athletes to, the better. From top to bottom, we’re committed to giving our athletes and former student-athletes the best shot at lifelong career fulfillment.”

Ross Bjork, Director of Athletics

 

In the Aggie Athlete Network app, current and former A&M student-athletes have access to hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of on-demand videos, produced by app members. Students can then easily move from content to connection via in-app direct messaging, giving them unprecedented ease of access to A&M former student-athletes who are eager to help their fellow Aggies pursue careers. The Network also connects Aggies with A&M’s influential employer partners, providing these partners a pipeline of student-athletes to engage with.

 

"The student-athlete of today is more concerned with life outside of sport than ever before. Major shifts like NIL are contributing to this reality. It only makes sense for athletic departments to invest in building the best ecosystems to serve their student-athletes in the areas that matter most" said Grafted Founder Tyler Baker.

 

“In terms of academics, 2020 was the best year that Texas A&M student-athletes have ever had. And we’re only getting better. Now we need to connect our athletes with the mentors, internships, and job opportunities that will power lifelong career success,” said Joe Fields, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Services.

 

The Aggie Athlete Network app utilizes the Grafted technology to supercharge the work of Fields and his Center for Student-Athlete Services, allowing that center’s staff to effectively serve 100% of A&M student-athletes. Like a personalized career concierge, the Grafted technology algorithmically curates relevant career content and likely-helpful connections for each athlete. As A&M staff see student activity on the app, they are able to connect students with relevant opportunities.

 

Content on the Athlete Network app is automatically tagged and organized based on its subject matter. In this way, the Network is a hub for valuable content on all of A&M’s Athlete Outcome priorities, including:

-          Financial literacy

-          Former student-athlete engagement

-          Career readiness

-          Brand building

-          Diversity and inclusion

-          Life skills

-          Mental health

 

How It Works

Currently, A&M Athletics is inviting Aggie former student-athletes to download the Aggie Athlete Network app and join the community. Fields and his Student-Athletes Services team are adding current student-athletes to the app. As each new user joins, they are invited to tell their story through several video prompts. They share about their A&M experience, about career, and about how they can help others on the app. With each new video, the searchable database of career content grows. Meanwhile, former student-athletes are being invited to be part of specialized broadcasts, where they can field student questions and speak in-depth on their areas of career expertise. Each of their answers is then added to the app’s collection of career content.

 

When users log into the app, they see a customized feed of relevant Athlete Outcomes content based on their interests and previously-watched content. Like TikTok and other highly popular social media apps, the Athlete Network regenerates this feed to continuously display more and more relevant content.

 

Additionally, every piece of career content on the Aggie Athlete Network app represents an opportunity. The Network automatically recommends relevant connections, including Aggie employer partners, and the Network makes it easy to connect with those individuals. In other words, as students learn how to build their professional brands, they are empowered to leverage that brand where it matters most: to obtain meaningful career outcomes.

 

Deputy Athletics Director Justin Moore described the potential for the Aggie Athlete Network. ”Our athletes’ time here in College Station is among the most treasured memories of their lives. But the value of that community doesn’t have to end when you graduate. The Aggie Athlete Network app helps us achieve our Athlete Outcomes while extending the exciting, engaging, and life-changing community that Aggies are used to.”

 

Together with Grafted and Texas A&M Athletics former student-athletes, A&M is propelling Athlete Outcomes forward and preparing all Aggie student-athletes for life after sport.

 

Learn more about Texas A&M’s Center for Student-Athlete Services here, and find more information on Grafted’s technology solutions for higher ed at getgrafted.com. Download the Aggie Athlete Network app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

 

For complete coverage of Texas A&M athletics, be sure to follow the Aggies on social media at @12thMan (Twitter), @12thman (Instagram) and @AggieAthletics (Facebook) or visit the official home of Texas A&M Athletics at 12thMan.com.