San Jose State – Beyond Sparta

When Brent Brennan took over the San Jose State Football program in 2016, he launched an initiative called Beyond Football to establish a culture for his team. That program- designed to encourage players to take advantage of abundant opportunities for development both on campus and in the Bay Area- has since evolved into Beyond Sparta, one of the premier athlete development programs in the country.

All 467 student-athletes at San Jose State now benefit from Beyond Sparta under the leadership of Tobruk Blaine, the Assistant AD for Student-Athlete Development. As the program has grown, it has also become more complex and now includes workshops, business visits, alumni panel discussions, mentorship, and career transition support.

With NextPlay,

Tobruk and her team have found a home for the Beyond Sparta initiative where they can elevate athlete impact, amplify alumni connectivity, and efficiently manage all aspects of the program through a centralized platform. Since launching in 2021, they have:

  • Connected student-athletes with dozens of jobs from companies specifically seeking the skills that athletes bring to the table. Many of these opportunities were sourced through alumni eager to give back to their alma mater.
  • Built a library of career development content that will continue to be housed in the Beyond Sparta app for athletes to take advantage of on their own time.
  • Created a calendar of events where student-athletes can sign up to attend and check back for important information all in one place.

NextPlay has played a pivotal role in streamlining the Beyond Sparta program operationally. The app can replace a variety of scheduling tools, content management systems, and communication platforms to ensure that student-athletes have a one-stop shop for personal and professional development. The analytics capabilities of the platform continue to expand, allowing programs like Beyond Sparta to incentivize engagement from student-athletes and measure impact.

The Beyond Sparta program – which is funded by San Jose State donors who recognize the importance of education beyond athletics- recognizes that support while athletes are on campus is not enough. Working with NextPlay allows the program to not only enhance the student-athlete experience, but to transcend it by supporting alumni as well.

Athletes begin their experience with Beyond Sparta during their time in school, but a lifetime of support on the platform awaits as they launch into life after sports. An athlete looking for support after graduation can:

  • Access career development content to adjust their resume or explore interview tips.
  • Explore the job board to identify new opportunities or consider a career change.
  • Reach out to an old teammate for guidance on a prospective job opportunity

[W]e believe our student-athletes will get a head start on a career in the business world before earning a San José State degree.

Since the program’s inception, student-athletes have developed a greater understanding of what life after college looks like. Because of the connections they are making with former players through NextPlay and the wealth of information they have access to, student-athletes feel a deeper connection to the San Jose State network. Many of them are excited to pay it forward by giving back to the next generation of graduates as they transition into their professional careers.