Block S Newsletter

Where are they now?

Lonie Paxton - GoPro Sr. Global Entertainment Marketing Manager and 3x Super Bowl Champion

Football 1996-1999

What made you decide to go to Sac State?
"At the time I was coming out of high school, I wasn’t highly recruited. I was getting a little discouraged and was ready to head to the local junior college to continue my education. Lou Biaz and Lou Patrone came through Centennial High School a couple times during their SoCal tour and ended up offering me an official visit. I was super excited to have the opportunity to go check out a real Division I college. When I watched practice the following day, I saw the current long snappers struggling in their Special Teams drills so started showing Jim Barnes how I could long snap. I don’t think they even knew I could do it. I threw a couple lasers at him and he called over Coach Volek. They pretty much offered me a scholarship before I left. They were the first to offer me a trip and a scholarship, so I chose to go with the family who wanted me."

What was your favorite memory as a Hornet?
"There were so many memories along the way that it’s tough to choose just one. I made a ton of lifelong friends and shared endless laughs with my Hammerhead crew. From my recruiting trip visit to the legendary Hammerhead house, our 6:00 a.m. breakfast club workouts, to our first Big Sky Road and Home wins and beating Davis on their field…The list goes on!"

Tell us about your career path and how you got to where you are today?
"I wasn’t highly recruited out of college so I started to explore what life after football and school would be like. I was introduced to Red Bull by Angus McClure and thought that might be a cool brand to work for. After entering the NFL, I reached out to them to see if they’d send me some product. I started kind of being the Red Bull guy in the locker room and even had a fridge in my locker. Growing up in Southern California, I was exposed to various lifestyle brands that would send me product to hand out to the “more popular” guys in the locker room. HA! Just as Red Bull did, I was getting “swag bags” left and right and started building strong relationships with their marketing and events teams. I would attend events as an ambassador and even host some at my house in SoCal. Being part of a winning franchise made these brands bring me closer to try to understand the Patriot Way, and how they could replicate it in the business world. Once I was close to wrapping up my career, the Red Bull VP of marketing went to GoPro. I leveraged that relationship to get an opportunity to get in front of their ownership and tell my story of how I felt I could be an asset to their company. The rest is history!"

What advice would you give our current student-athletes?
"I would say that hard work in the classroom and in your relationships is the secret to success. Treat every relationship as a building block to becoming a better version of yourself, every day."

 

LaVerne Simmons-Barnett - Director of Accounting Services Sacramento State

Women's Volleyball 1980-1983

What made you decide to go to Sac State?
"I am a native Sacramentan and I wanted stay close to home. Debby Colberg recruited me to play volleyball even though I grew up playing basketball and didn't play volleyball until junior year of high school. My sister also played for Debby and I had been connected with the school from when she went to Sac State. "

What was your favorite memory as a Hornet?
"My favorite moment was winning our second national championship in 1981. We won back-to-back championships. This was the first year of Title IX with women’s sports included in the NCAA. I also have many memories of all the conditioning Debby Colberg would run us through in August. Especially the 2 X 4 boards wrapped in a towel we had to push across the gym in suicides. Those were tough, but it payed off because our team was in the best shape compared to all the other teams we played against. Overall, the best part was the teamwork and all of us supporting each other."

Tell us about your career path and how you got to where you are today?
"I started as a student assistant at the Sac State cashiers’ office in 1983 (now bursar’s office). I didn’t graduate in four years, I took my time with school. I had a friend who worked in the cashier’s office and that’s how I got my first job there as a student. I did that for three years and learned all the processes. By my senior year, I started working almost full-time because I was trained and there was an opening. I earned my degree in accounting and stayed in cashiers for another year before moving over to accounts receivables. I worked in that department for 11 years. Then I applied to work as an Accountant I in accounting services in 1996. I continued to work my way up in accounting services and now I’m the director. I have worked at Sac State for 33 years, all in one division."

What advice would you give our current student-athletes?
"Enjoy your time playing your sport. You get to travel to places you never would have been able to otherwise. Enjoy the time and the opportunity to travel. Make sure whatever you decide for a major that it’s something you really want to do and not for anyone else. Make sure you really want to do it and not just based on expectations. Try to make sure you are planning ahead for retirement as you get that first job. It is important to start early. And staying with a job for a while can help with growing your retirement savings and provide great benefits."

 

Jameel Pugh - Inderkum High School College and Career Counselor

Men's Basketball 2003-2005

What made you decide to go to Sac State?
"I had established a relationship with Coach Jenkins while I was in high school. I ended up going away to school at The University of Massachusetts right out of high school but had the chance to come back home to Sacramento to my family and to play for someone I knew."

What was your favorite memory as a Hornet?
"When our team broke the three point shooting record. We literally shot the lights out, the lights actually went out in the gym and we had to delay the game. Our team ended up breaking the school record for three pointers made in a single game that night."

Tell us about your career path and how you got to where you are today?
"After graduating from Sac State, I played overseas in New Zealand, Australia and Mexico and I was drafted into the NBA Developmental League. During that time I started to research and think about what my transferable skills were. As a student-athlete, I didn’t get a 3.0 until my senior year. At that time, I saw a shift from thinking about myself as just an athlete to a student-athlete and gained confidence academically. After my playing career was over I was able to land a job at the local school district with the opportunity to develop mentoring programs. After a few years in that role, I moved to Los Angeles and then Philadelphia for some soul searching to find out what I really wanted to do. I began working in workforce development for the disenfranchised in Philadelphia and then again in Inglewood. This developed my passion for helping others mange, develop and create career paths. I then brought this passion back to Sacramento and Inderkum High School. At the high school level, I am able to help and support high school students decide career paths and get admitted to top universities. I help students with the process of applying to college and for scholarships through the College and Career Readiness Team Peer-to-Peer Program I created. Within that program, we conduct mock interviews to prepare students for job interviews. We expanded on that idea, and started a podcast to talk to professionals and college recruiters. All interviews are recorded and available to view for any student that doesn’t get the chance to personally interview with these recruiters. We’ve also created a social media marketing team to promote job opportunities to students, as well as, a bilingual outreach team to translate our training resources into Spanish. The best part is that the program is completely self-funded! We’ve raised over $32,000 to date. I graduated with honors from USC with a masters in organizational leadership and I am currently working on my doctorate in human resources and workforce development with the University of Arkansas. I now hope to create a program to help people find a career path with passion and purpose, specifically for 15 to 35 year olds."

What advice would you give our current student-athletes?
"The biggest advice I would give them is to develop your mind like you are developing your game. Train your mind the same way you train for your sport, it takes practice and conditioning the same way your body does."