Kelly Davis Freeman
Kelly Freeman Davis is from Brentwood, TN. She was a 2 sport high school athlete and received a full scholarship to the University of Florida. Kelly played guard/forward for the Lady Gators Basketball team from 1996-2000 and was voted co-captain by her teammates.Kelly received her degree in Exercise & Sport Science and has gone on to have a stellar pharmaceutical sales career. She is a devoted wife and mother of three beautiful girls. Kelly is an excellent role model for current student-athletes and her advice on transitioning from athlete to career professional is spot on!
Did you focus more on your sport or academics?
It’s probably fair to say I focused slightly more on my sport. As I got closer to graduating my focus definitely shifted to “what am I going to do next?”
What steps did you take while in school to prepare you for life after sports?
Honestly, I did not intentionally do anything. I was always a hard worker and wanted to make good grades so I took advantage of the tutors and study time on the road. I think a lot of skills we learned innately through our sport prepared us for life after sport – time management, accountability, teamwork. That being said, life demands more than those skills.
Did you have a mentor or take advantage of any networking opportunities while in school?
I did not. As a professional, now I see how valuable mentorship can be. If you have the opportunity to enter into a formal or informal mentorship – do it! The wisdom gained from someone who has “been there, done that” is so valuable. I did go to our career fair that was hosted for the University and the career fair that was put on specifically for the athletes my junior and senior year.
How would you rate and describe your transition from student-athlete to career professional?
I think a lot of athletes would describe it as confusing and hard. Our whole lives we were identified by our sport and for the first time ever, we were no different than anyone else. I’ve heard it described as an identity crisis of sorts. I lucked out in that I worked in sports for the first couple of years out of school which allowed my transition to feel more familiar. If I were to say what is the single most difficult thing in the life of a former collegiate athlete, this would be it. The transition. There is a social transition and a career transition that take place. In sport, you go some place new and you immediately have a team (peers) who are already working towards something you are passionate about. A common goal. In the workplace, there may be many motivators to how people work and what they work for. Socially I always had immediate friends through my sport. In the workplace I had to make friends for the first time.
Student-athletes have a great support system. Did that support system stay in place once you graduated?
Not really. Once I graduated I didn’t have follow up from the athletic department in that regards. Now, did they want to know how I was doing, yes, but I did not have support like I did while I was in school.
How happy are you in your current profession?
I love my job. Next year I will celebrate 15 years in pharmaceuticals and all with AstraZeneca. This job marries my love for human sciences with my love of people and relationships. I cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. It has provided so much for my family and I love the ever changing nature of pharmaceuticals. I am passionate about serving others and love sales. This is pharma in a nutshell. Ironically, I did not start my professional life in this field, but I am so happy to have found it.
If you could offer advice to current student-athletes about what awaits them when their playing days are over, what would it be?
You are a valued commodity. I can’t say it enough. Being a former student athlete is not only a gift but a huge responsibility. The skills we posses are ones employers would love to bottle and spread over every employee they have. The ability to work as a team, be self motivated, excel under pressure, accept criticism, achieve goals & results, have integrity, etc, are all qualities that are desired in any employee. These are all things that can’t necessarily be taught in the classroom. You come to the workforce with years of real world application of these traits that others will not have. Now, with this comes responsibility as well. When an employer hears you are a former athlete, they expect these things from you. Don’t disappoint them. Continue to work hard just like you did in your sport.
Would you change anything about your college experience as it relates to your own personal development?
I would have sought out opportunities to learn about different types of professions. I had a general degree that did not point me in a specific direction after college. When exploring majors, really look at where your interests lie and if a specific degree exists to fulfill those interests, pursue it.
I’m more than an athlete because….
It is not what defines me. I love sports but they are not who I am. I credit my parents with exposing me to things outside of sports so when the day came for me to hang up my shoes I knew where my worth was and it wasn’t in the shoes. I am happily a former student athlete who is now a wife, mom, friend, professional and lover of queso and tres leches cake!
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Kelly Davis Freeman
Pharmaceutical Sales, AstraZeneca
Posted By Alumni Spotlight, 27 Aug 2019