El Paso, TX – The University of Texas at El Paso Athletics Department Tuesday unveiled the ‘UTEP Athlete Network,’ an online community for current and former student-athletes, in partnership with Grafted, a Charlotte, NC-based ed tech company. Through the partnership, UTEP Athletics will leverage the company’s video-first technology platform to help fulfill key athlete outcomes like preparing current and former student-athletes for career, caring for student-athlete well-being, and engaging UTEP Athletics alumni.
Grafted’s technology platform is the underlying system enabling UTEP Athletics to provide the UTEP Athlete Network to its student-athletes, former student-athletes, and employer partners. The Network integrates greater access to both career exploration and career opportunities for all UTEP student-athletes. By investing in the UTEP Athlete Network app, UTEP Athletics plans to leverage the power of its nationwide alumni network to help current and former student-athletes find rewarding careers in life after sports. The Network is also a new frontier for connecting Miners Athletics alumni with each other, empowering them to play a more active role in the athletic department.
Despite only launching in March of 2020, Grafted is quickly being adopted by forward-thinking athletic departments across the country, including those in the Big-12, Big-10, SEC and Conference USA.
“Our decision to build the UTEP Athlete Network represents a major investment in teamwork, a core value every Miner athlete knows well. We are stronger and more innovative when we work together. With the Network, we’re able to harness the power of Miner alumni nationwide to create more opportunities and to create meaningful community,” Director of Athletics Jim Senter said. “Former Miner Athletes work in industries and companies across the country, and now we have a community where they can connect with each other and with current student-athletes over the work they’re most passionate about.”
In the UTEP Athlete Network app, current and former UTEP student-athletes have access to hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of on-demand videos, produced by Miner alumni. Students can then easily move from content to connection via in-app direct messaging, giving them unprecedented ease of access to UTEP alumni who are eager to help their fellow Miners pursue careers. The Network also connects Miners with UTEP’s influential employer partners, providing these partners a pipeline of student-athletes to engage with.
The UTEP Athlete Network app utilizes the Grafted technology to supercharge the work of the UTEP Life Skills program, allowing that center’s staff to effectively serve 100% of UTEP student-athletes. Like a personalized career concierge, the Grafted technology algorithmically curates relevant career content and likely-helpful connections for each athlete. As UTEP staff see student activity on the app, they are able to connect students with relevant opportunities.
“The UTEP Athlete Network app takes career collaboration to a whole new level, and our athletes and alumni are going to really enjoy using it. Think TikTok meets career preparation. And the best part is, it allows our athletes to really uncover their career interests and pursue them,” Chelsea Popplewell, Director of Student-Athlete Development, said. “As a former athlete myself, it’s the kind of tool I wish I had had access to early in my career.”
Content on the UTEP Athlete Network app is automatically tagged and organized based on its subject matter, which further allows Popplewell and her team to create custom student-athlete experiences. In this way, the Network is a hub for valuable content on all of UTEP’s Athlete Outcome priorities, including:
Currently, UTEP Athletics is inviting Miner alumni to download the UTEP Athlete Network app and join the community. Director Popplewell and her team are adding current student-athletes to the app. As each new user joins, they are invited to tell their story through several video prompts. They share about their UTEP experience, about career, and about how they can help others on the app. With each new video, the searchable database of career content grows. Meanwhile, Director Popplewell’s staff in the Life Skills Center are inviting alumni to be part of specialized broadcasts, where they can field student questions and speak in-depth on their areas of career expertise. Each of their answers is then added to the app’s collection of career content.
When users log into the app, they see a customized feed of relevant Athlete Outcomes content based on their interests and previously-watched content. Like TikTok and other highly popular social media apps, the UTEP Athlete Network regenerates this feed to continuously display more and more relevant content.
Additionally, every piece of career content on the UTEP Athlete Network app represents an opportunity. The Network automatically recommends relevant connections, including UTEP employer partners, and the Network makes it easy to connect with those individuals. In other words, as students learn how to build their professional brands, they are empowered to leverage that brand where it matters most: to obtain meaningful career outcomes.
Director of Athletics Jim Senter described the power of the UTEP Athlete Network app: “Every member of the Athletic Department staff is passionate about our athletes’ lifelong success. The Network app combines our care for our athletes with an engaging video app and then adds in the knowledge, influence, and support of the Miners alumni community. The result is a dynamic community that equips current athletes and affirms former athletes.”
Together with Grafted and UTEP Athletics alumni, UTEP is propelling Athlete Outcomes forward and preparing all Miner student-athletes for life after sport.