Baker Athletics: What is your fondest memory about playing for Baker?
Jodi Akers: The fondest of times were made up of not one memory but many. The feeling walking out on the track being proud to compete with Baker on my uniform. Yes, my physical and mental state at the time was focused intensely on winning the race. However, my heart was focused on the sense of pride being able to represent such a great organization (I would say school but it's so much more than that; it is a life). I had the privilege to also cheer for our football team as well. Same pride wearing BU on my uniform.
Baker Athletics: What have you been doing since you left Baker?
Jodi Akers: I left Baker after graduating in 1991 and immediately started my new life in Colorado. With my business degree, I quickly found the investment industry and worked at mutual fund companies and trust companies. Baker gave me the education and confidence to constantly improve myself professionally (and personally). I spent my Colorado years skiing, enjoying the mountains and starting a family. My one regret was not getting involved immediately in the alumni chapter of my Zeta Tau Alpha family or seeking out other BU grads to connect with.
In 2012, my professional career launched me into a position with an investment management firm in Chicago. I quickly looked up my Zeta "daughter" who lives in the area and attended an alumni social for all Baker grads, it was very comforting to have this connection in a strange, very large, city. Along with my career, I do anything to keep physically active, since that was such a huge part of my life at Baker and helped me balance my priorities and stresses. Since Chicago is much different than Colorado...I have transitioned to a treadmill (ugh) as well as racquetball and now tennis.
At this point in my life, I am thankful for the confidence (again) that Baker gave me. I am in Chicago for my job and my daughter is now 14 and remained in Colorado with her father. Nothing can prepare you for the "plan" that doesn't work out the way you "planned". I have relied on the confidence in myself (and my faith) to see me through.
Finally, once a Broncos fan...always a Broncos fan!
Baker Athletics: Do you still keep in touch with your Baker teammates?
Jodi Akers: Yes, virtually. Facebook and LinkedIn are amazing resources to stay connected with teammates and classmates. I keep connected with a couple of track buddies, most of my sorority sisters, and I found my track coach from Baker. I must say, Baker was great when they set me up with my dorm-mate my freshman year. We ran track together and ended up joining the same sorority, we were in each others weddings, vacationed together on our 40th birthday and still, at the age of 44, are good friends (it all started at Baker and track).
Baker Athletics: How did your time at Baker impact your life?
Jodi Akers: My time at Baker was instrumental in my life. I don't say that lightly. If I was not at Baker, with the caring, small, family environment...I would not have been as successful in life as I've been. When I say "Baker is more than a school, it's a life", I fully believe it. Life hit me with two unfortunate events (death of my father and injury resulting in the end of my track career, two of my most beloved). Baker pulled together around me in all directions. I hit bottom and bounced up to Dean's List and graduation. I couldn't have done that alone.
Baker Athletics: Looking back now what is some advice you would give to Baker Freshman, along with seniors ready about to graduate?
Jodi Akers: Freshman – get involved! In anything! Baker is a small community and everyone counts. Like with anything, "you will get out what you put in". Set your direction, yet don't be afraid to change...the world after college, especially professionally, is all about dealing effectively with change.
Seniors – stay connected! Immediately! I didn't return to Baker until I was close to 40 years old. I also didn't pursue finding BU alumni in my area to connect with. I feel I missed out on something great for so many years, the connection to Baker after school is over.
Baker Athletics: You were involved in the ZTA sorority, a member of the cheer team, and were a track and field athlete. What was it like juggling all these responsibilities?
Jodi Akers: Tough! But because my heart was so into being a part of a great organization, representing that organization (and yes, a little competitive bone might be in me from the track side) I loved all parts of my BU experience. I'm not saying I was jazzed about juggling all of this all the time, I sure loved my alone time sleeping in the ZTA sleeping porch!
Honestly, looking back, I'm glad I learned to juggle school responsibilities with sports and social life. It instilled in me the ability to juggle a career, family, fitness and social life now in my 40's.
Baker Athletics: Did you have pre-meet rituals or superstitions you preformed before you competed?
Jodi Akers: Snickers...music...yawning. The Snickers candy bar was my sugar before a sprint race. It had to be timed perfectly (in my mind) so the gun went off when my blood sugar was peaked and not when I was sugar-crashing. Music – Prince (or "artist formerly known as", I guess that dates me)! Yawning – this one wasn't my choice...for some reason, I would have to yawn every single time I set myself in my sprinting blocks. Made it hard to balance "get the yawns out before the 'ready, set, bang'"!
Baker Athletics: Rain, sleet, snow, and wind are all in the forecast for this years HAAC championships at Baker. Did you ever experience any adverse conditions while at a track meet or cheering?
Jodi Akers: Oh yes. More focus required more than ever. You become a mental competitor at that point. You need to trust yourself that you have trained your body, whether to do a difficult cheer stunt or to sprint the 400, and now it's about who's mind can overcome the elements to win. Let me be honest, these are not the fun meets or games, but they happen, so you must get through them. Trust your trained body and train your mind!