BATON ROUGE - The Bengal Belles has generously provided the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes with the necessary funds for a Communications Lab which will feature a studio and media training area for LSU's student-athletes.
Since their inception in 1996, the Bengal Belles have placed the Academic Center as their primary focus for contribution of their fundraising monies. The Belles are dedicated to promote the academic well being of the student-athlete and have donated over $500,000 during the 15-year span.
The Bengal Belles Academic Excellence award, introduced at the 2010 Academic Gala, is given to student-athletes who are enrolled in graduate school and earned at least a 3.0 GPA before exhausting their athletic eligibility. The Belles also are heavily involved with gymnastics' annual Etta James Memorial Meet for Foundation 56, an organization started by former LSU football player Bradie James to fight breast cancer in the Baton Rouge and Dallas, Texas communities.
"When Athletic Director Joe Alleva approached us in 2009 about an annual contribution to the Communications Lab, the Belles agreed it was a perfect fit," Belles President Aimée Simon said. "The Belles are so proud to know their contribution can build confidence and inspire athletes to be better trained at public speaking, and prepares the athletes for the interview process of post graduation job interviews. This new commitment to the Communications Lab gives the Belles another opportunity to remain steadfast to the Academic Center for the student-athlete."
LSU is one of the few schools where student-athletes go through media training to enhance their communication skills. Each team met with Dr. Tommy Karam or Dr. Shirley White, experts in the field who give training sessions prior to the start of the season.
"Engaging student-athletes in proper communication skills can help them communicate effectively throughout their careers," Director of Student Affairs/CHAMPS Program Mike Mallet said. "It is our responsibility to adequately provide those qualities and tangible skills that will make them ambassadors for both Louisiana State University and the State of Louisiana."
The sessions feature mock interviews to get the student-athletes acclimated to giving interviews in front of both print and electronic media. Karam and White record the interviews on camera and then provide feedback, allowing the student-athletes to become more comfortable and confident when doing actual interviews.
"Working with Dr. White has helped me prepare for life after college by learning how to advance myself in the workforce," football's Drake Nevis said.
"Dr. White is an eloquent speaker, and her help has been very beneficial for our team this season," softball's Ashley Applegate said. "Working with Dr. White has been a great opportunity. It is important to know what to say and what not to say when being interviewed. She has taught me how to stay relaxed and how to choose the right words when asked tough questions during an interview."