A former student and leader in sport marketing shared his experience going from a student in the Department of Health and Kinesiology to being a top executive at three of the major sporting goods brands in the world as part of the seventh annual Department of Health and Kinesiology’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) at Texas A&M University March 2-4.
David Heath graduated with a Bachelor's from Texas A&M in 1976 and earned his Master’s in Physical Education in 1979. He then became the first full-time assistant athletic trainer for Aggie Athletics. After his time at A&M, Heath spent several years with Adidas and Nike before retiring at the age of 55. After a call for help from a former colleague and friend, Heath came out of retirement and is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales at Under Armour.
Heath focused much of his presentation on the mentors that shaped his time at A&M and others who influenced his career. He knows he would not be where he is today without those influences and people he has been exposed to along the way. “It’s the networking opportunities and the people you meet along the way that will make the biggest impact on your career,” said Heath.
One of those opportunities came about five years after he started working in the sports marketing field. Heath had long dreamed of becoming a trainer in the NBA. One afternoon, he got the call he had always hoped for. An A&M graduate, and team doctor for the Houston Rockets, called Heath to tell him the trainer for the San Antonio Spurs took another job and it was Heath’s if he wanted it. After 24 hours of deep thought, Heath turned down the job. He says it’s important to follow your passion even if it does not lead where you originally had planned.
“You think you have a road map and then suddenly, like it is with GPS today, there is a road there that is not on the map. You have to determine if you are going to go down that road or avoid it because you don’t know where it leads. Putting yourself in the position to make those decisions is driven by hard work, putting yourself out there, taking chances, making mistakes and learning.”
That lesson is one he hopes students and others who attended DLS took to heart. He hopes his message, and the messages from other speakers, tweaked something in a student that will change their future. “Many students don’t know what’s out there and I think whether it’s a topic that a researcher is presenting that they want to be part of or they find something that is just a personal passion they enjoy.”
“Each year, we like to invite back a prominent graduate of our program who has made a significant impact in their field,” explained Dr. Rick Kreider, professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology. “Mr. Heath graduated from our program in the late 1970’s to become an athletic trainer for the Aggies and then a top executive in some of the world’s top sports brands. We are very proud of the impact Mr. Heath has made on our field and society and were pleased we could bring him back to Aggieland to inspire our students.”