Jayhawk Softball Player Made Professional Use of Her Off-Season

Sept. 15, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Just three weeks after the University of Kansas softball team recorded the last out of the 2011 season, Jayhawk catcher Leah Daiber reported for one of the most important off-seasons of her career.

Now a senior on the KU softball team, Daiber spent last summer working as an intern for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of the most highly-sought after and competitive internships in the field, Daiber was selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants for the summer position.

“For the summer semester they had to move the deadline up two months, because they had too many applicants,” Daiber said. “Of the 300 applicants, 10 got phone interviews, and three got picked. I applied in the winter of the year before, but since I was so young they didn’t think that I would get it.”

Daiber credits Andrea Hudy, Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Performance at Kansas, for helping her get noticed amongst the NSCA board. The St. Louis, Mo., native spent her off-season a year ago interning for Hudy in the Kansas strength and conditioning department. As a member of the NSCA board, Hudy passed along her recommendation of Daiber. Although both thought an interview might come of it, it was up to Daiber to land the position.

“I was actually in the locker room when they called to offer it to me,” Daiber said. “I started jumping up and down. I ran into to weight room to tell Hudy and then I ran upstairs to tell the coaches. It was awesome. It was also a little stressful, because they told me I had two weeks before they wanted me out there.”

Earning the job was just the first step. In less than two weeks, Daiber had to pack and make living arrangements in a city more than nine hours away. She was able to stay with a family friend in Colorado Springs, but that couldn’t hold off the moving stress in Lawrence.

“I packed up everything,” Daiber said. “And I had to find a place for all of my stuff, because I was also moving out of my apartment in Lawrence at the time. I had to figure out what I wanted to take up there, so it was craziness for those two weeks.”

Once she arrived in Colorado, however, Daiber found her groove. Strength and conditioning is a field she pinpointed as her desired career during her freshman year, but working at NSCA helped narrow her specific focus even further.

From May-August, Daiber worked alongside three other interns. One was from Ball State, one from the University of Iowa and the other from the University of Oklahoma. Together, the intern crew learned at one of the most prestigious strength and conditioning centers in the not just the country, but the world. Daiber shared that her location this summer was the headquarters for the world, with similar centers located in Japan, Italy and China.

The senior softball player worked with athletes of various ages, ranging from young figure skaters to collegiate hockey players to older athletes who now serve in the Army, on SWAT teams and Special Forces. She enjoyed broadening her knowledge outside the realm of collegiate athletes, but it also helped her make a career decision.

“I always thought that I wanted to work at the collegiate level, because that’s what I was always around,” Daiber said. “Going there showed me that’s exactly what I want to do. (I learned a lot and enjoyed working with the athletes there), but it was just really cool to discover that (college athletics) is what I want. It made my decision a lot easier.”

With athletes to work with and constant weight room maintenance to be done, she and her fellow interns didn’t spend much time in their shared office together. That didn’t stop them from finding time to become friends.

The Jayhawk of the bunch remembered one time, not long after they arrived, that one of her coworkers went skiing. Her fellow intern wasn’t wearing sunscreen and came back to work with a sunburn from her goggle line to her chin so intense that she wasn’t able to talk clearly or loudly. Daiber came to her aid, directing athletes for her sun-toasted friend. She felt for her, but laughs about it now as one of the funniest memories she acquired over the summer.

Now back in Lawrence for her final year of school and last season of softball, Daiber has an advantage over many students in her position. She has a clear post-graduation vision and a great recommendation waiting for her when she finishes.

“The founder of the NSCA still works there, and he is one of the guys that colleges will call to ask if he has any ideas of people who need jobs,” Daiber said. “Hopefully I will get something from that. It would be awesome to stay here, but honestly I am open to anything.”