News Center – October 2021
“Ruthie” Bolton knows a thing or two about golden opportunities. As a member of the U.S. National Women’s Basketball Team, she competed in both Atlanta and Sydney, taking home Olympic gold both times. Now, alongside former NFL player Marlon Moore, she’s becoming a champion for game-changing opportunities in entrepreneurship.
“Marlon and Ruthie are both able to grab the attention of students because of what they’ve accomplished in their own careers,” says Gordon Hinkle, who connects K-14 students to guest speakers and more as the NFNRC Regional Director of Global Trade. “They love working with young people, and they have a heart for that, so we’re very fortunate.”
When it comes to global trade, California is an international powerhouse. With hundreds of thousands of jobs in exports, the state contains two of the largest ports in the nation, making for high-paying careers in shipping and more. Currently, the e-commerce industry alone is growing at a rate 27 percent faster than that of domestic trade.
In Sacramento, where global trade careers abound, Bolton and Moore are teaming up to spread the word about these golden opportunities.
Though hailing from different sports, the two have pivoted their athletic careers to become global sports entrepreneurs and have a passion for inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.
“Once I retired, I wanted to share my knowledge and experience with the next generation,” says Moore, a Sacramento native and former NFL wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. “I hope to continue encouraging young people to engage in our continually shrinking global economy and to forge their own success stories.”
Moore has visited numerous classrooms, and since the pandemic, has shared video PSAs to encourage young learners. As the Fresno State alum says, “We can take many of the unfortunate circumstances — like having to do distance learning — and use it as a chance to improve our communication and technology skills.”
Even before the pandemic, virtual connections were the standard in global trade, so those enhanced career skills could be seen as a silver lining. Coming from a local sports legend, Moore says kids readily absorb his message.
“It’s worth it to get their attention and help inspire them to reach for their goals,” says the former football player. “I want to be a voice for hope and to help build their confidence.”
Similarly, Bolton advocates for global entrepreneurship while also sharing inspiration for surpassing personal struggles. This year, Bolton was the key speaker at Sierra College’s “Rise Up” event for domestic violence awareness. Says the Olympian at the virtual gathering, “Who would have ever imagined that part of my story was how I was able to overcome domestic violence?”
In fact, during her successful 15-year basketball career, a decade was spent struggling in an abusive marriage. She hopes that sharing her story gives students permission to seek support.
“The gift from me today is how you can take back your power,” says Bolton to students. She says she went from wanting to “put my medals in the trash” to realizing that “I am mighty inside.”
“We all know this has been a crazy year,” says Bolton. “As you rise up, you can turn your pain into power and love who you are.”
This August, both Moore and Bolton were “celebrity coaches” for the very first College Esports Tournament, created in partnership with the Sacramento Kings, California Community Colleges, and College Esports International.
Esports are multiplayer video games played for live or online spectators and are increasingly regarded as competitive sports. And when you consider that the video game industry surpassed both movies and music combined in 2020… it’s no surprise that Sacramento is getting in on the action. Kings Guard Gaming, sponsored by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, was one of the first pro-esports teams to enter the NBA 2K League.
“Esports are the future,” states Chairman of the Sacramento Kings Vivek Ranadivé in the team’s media guide. “The fact that it’s global, driven by technology and has a young demographic all make this a very exciting time to get involved.”
The three-day esports event aired on NBC’s Sports Twitch Channel, which also covered the Tokyo Olympics. Hundreds of competitors from about 20 universities, colleges, and community colleges went head-to-head in the “Rocket League” video game for $30,000 in awards and scholarships. The event took place at the Golden 1 Center, the NBA’s most technologically advanced arena.
“It’s a global phenomenon, where you’re getting to play with people from different countries and cultures,” explains Hinkle. “Students get a lot of exposure to skills that will help them in the workforce.”
In fact, the second day was dedicated to an educational webinar, featuring international entrepreneurs covering career opportunities connected to esports. Topics included “The Impact of New Tech on Esports, Sports and Gaming Industries,” moderated by Mobilium Global Limited CEO Ralph Simon, who joined from London.
The webinar highlighted careers like digital marketing, event planning, programming, game development, and even artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“There was no better way to illustrate the emergence of exciting new sectors like esports than through the last year of remote living and working,” Statewide Director of Global Trade Leah Goold-Haws said during the webinar. “The rapidly growing world of esports is opening up a number of exciting new career pathways and… I encourage you to explore them as you consider your future, both locally and globally.”
Learners networked with industry professionals both online and in the arena, where countless student volunteers from Sierra College, American River College, Cosumnes River College, and Folsom Lake College put on the production from event planning to running audiovisual.
In addition to volunteers, Sierra College brought its mobile training center, showing gamers that they can apply their tech skills to welding, robotics and mechatronics.
“Right now, we’re working with augmented reality (AR),” says Sierra College Welding Professor Jesus de la Torre, who gave participants hands-on welding demos. The cutting-edge tech is used by the U.S. Government and Fortune 500 companies for welding training and maintenance.
“The user can pick from a menu while using these goggles,” explains the instructor. “It’ll tell you in real-time if you’re doing the weld correctly or incorrectly.”
The mobile training center is supported with Strong Workforce funds, with an additional mobile lab underway to showcase the College’s CTE programs at events like the esports competition.
“We’re really showing our local community that the skilled trades are in demand and do pay well,” says de la Torre.
It’s an exciting opportunity for student gamers to find careers they might not have discovered otherwise, and industry partners agree that the synergy with welding and AR training is essential.
“It’s a really big step in the right direction,” says Darryn Tardif, QA Weld Education Manager at Siemens Mobility. “I think it’s very important as our craft evolves… to be taking that technology and embracing it in education.”
Tardif explains that the latest industrial robots require computer programmers who can also weld. Thus, a gamer with a knack for hands-on skills would be at an advantage: “To be able to get people that information and give them more options through better jobs and careers, it’s really key.”
Joe Clukey, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Taqtile, is of the same mind:
“The power of new AR systems delivers benefits in multiple environments, from the frontline worker who uses our Manifest platform to repair and maintain multi-million-dollar industrial equipment to forward-thinking professors like those at Sierra College who are seeking new ways to educate their students.”
Overall, the three-day event was a huge success, with more than 10,000 online viewers and 500-plus in-person attendees.
“The Chancellor’s office even called to congratulate us on the event,” says Hinkle, who hopes to make the esports competition one of the top annual collegiate events. “It’s just a great way to get industry connections for students.”
From launching a love of global trade to fostering a connection between gaming and welding, Moore says the event was exciting, and he was happy to help.
As the NFL star says, “I want students to take note of their surroundings so that they can better prepare for a viable career pathway that excites them.”
Global Trade Workforce, https://globaltradeworkforce.com
Video games are bigger business than ever, topping movies and music combined, USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/videos/tech/2021/06/10/e-3-2021-video-games-big-business-topping-film-and-music-combined/7637695002/
Kings Guard Gaming 2021 Media Guide, https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/102/2021/06/2021KingsGuardGamingMediaGuide.pdf
Online Educational Expo Schedule, https://nfnrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Online-Educational-Expo-Schedule_WithSpeakerBiographies081921.pdf