Purdue University North Central student David Sokolowski is in constant motion. When he is not in class, he can be found working in the PNC Athletics office, or on the baseball field, or taking on an assignment for the campus news network, or he’s working out or working at his off-campus job. And with every waking moment, he is looking to the future, ready for what will come next.
Sokolowski is a Communication major and a Sports Health minor who intends to pursue a career that combines his two passions.
“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to stay in sports, particularly baseball and work in broadcasting or marketing,” he explained. “I would like to use my Communication degree to work for a sports team. I would also like to be a high school coach and maybe own my own indoor workout facility. I’d like to give back to the community athletes and youth by giving the support that I had.”
He has a few semesters to complete before he graduates and he is putting his time on campus to good use.
“I am blessed to be a member of Panther News Network (PNN) for three years at PNC and in fall 2014 Tom Albano, director of Athletics, made me his assistant. I absolutely love my job on campus,” said Sokolowski.
The resident of Three Oaks, Mich., transferred to PNC after attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Purdue’s academic reputation, as well as the opportunity to play baseball, were major factors in his decision.
“Baseball has been my passion since I was old enough to understand it. My parents were college athletes – Dad played Baseball; Mom played softball. I was introduced to it at a young age,” explained Sokolowski, who describes himself as “primarily an outfielder” who can play any position and pitch.
He credits PNC baseball head coach Shane Prance and assistant, Kevin Scott as well as former coaches Tyson Blattner and Larry Blake as being “great coaches who are great supporters and advocates for the players.”
“Many of the important things I’ve learned in life as far as personal lessons have stemmed from playing sports,” he continued. “I find sports to be a metaphor for life. I agree with the baseball term ‘Live your life like a 3-1 count.’ Your opportunities are going to be there, you just need to give it your best all the time and make the most of those chances and hit those home runs in life – or doubles if you’re like me.
“The skills instilled through sports have helped me in life and made me a better person. Some lessons are harder to learn than others and are realized at different times of life. Respect, discipline, being adaptable and handling pressure are all things I’ve gotten better at in sports and in life and have helped me get this far. Being a team player, being competitive, and putting others before myself sometimes have been some of my best qualities.”
His love of sports carries through to his interest in writing about sports. He was in high school when he started writing for the Berrien County (Michigan) Record.
“My editor Tom Nyhuis gave me an opportunity to cover a girls basketball game while he was out of town on business. I did such an exceptional job that he decided to keep me around.”
He thanks teachers Tom Gazella, Kaye Springstead and Jean Storm who “motivated me and supported me.”
When he got to PNC, PNC athletic trainer Doug Cassell introduced him to Albano, who introduced him to PNN.
Sokolowski started a feature he named “Panther Profiles.” He interviews student-athletes to introduce them to readers who will learn more about them and their future plans.
He and Albano created the PNN sports talk show, “Panther Nation.” Technology experts and video editors Joseph Ryan and Bob Johnson helped make the program a success.
Sokolowski’s written work is posted on pncathletics.com and his video work is on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
He is the public address announcer for PNC athletics, is a student athletic trainer, helps with campus career fairs and volunteers to run a camera to film events on campus. His efforts earned a nomination as PNC 2014 – 2015 Student Employee of the year.
“I would recommend PNC to anyone. If you take the initiative to get involved, you cannot get bored. There is always something to do, something you can help with and people who will give their help and support. I love the atmosphere and the people at PNC. The Purdue degree is a huge asset.
Juggling his responsibilities isn’t always easy and he admits that an occasional ball has been dropped.
“I keep moving forward with the support of my family, friends and people at PNC. I am blessed with the biggest support system in the world and I never forget it. I am successful because I am a strong person and have a good mind set, but at the same time, I am a success because of them.”
He is quick to acknowledge the people behind him – Albano, Prance, Cassell, Blattner and Blake, PNC staff members Dr. Jane Brooks, John Weber, Kelsey Jordan, Craig Moore, Kristy Virgo, Natalie Connors and Carol Connelly. Faculty members Dr. Jeff Shires, Dr. Scott Smithson, Dr. Dan Wilbur, Dr. Dan Padberg, Sarah White, Dr. Heather Fielding and Dr. Linda Duttlinger. Friends Tyler Powers, Drew and Dan Shutes and brothers Noah Britt and Victor Sokolowski.
“The list of people who support me is endless. These people inspire me with their positive attitudes, work ethics, their knowledge and their expertise. Their support cannot be replaced. They are why coming to PNC is one of the best choices I’ve made.”
In the community, he helped his mother coach several youth athletic teams. He assists Coach Colby Caid at River Valley High School; Coach Justin Berry of the Southwest Michigan Sluggers Youth Baseball program and helps with the American Legion Post 204 Baseball Program. He was a fifth grade camp counsellor at Camp Eberhart in Three Rivers, Mich., and was named Counselor of the Year.
At Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Sokolowski was a starter for a team that recorded 40 wins and became the winningest team in school history under Coach Bernie Vallier. “He’s one of my favorite coaches and mentors,” said Sokolowski. “My friends and teammates – Jimmy Jackson, Drew Shutes, Kyle Figgins, Jake Davis, and so more – agree that Coach Vallier pushed us to be better ballplayers and better men.”
As a high school baseball and football player, he earned a number of all-conference and tournament honors and was recruited by collegiate baseball and football teams.
“With the help and support I receive at PNC, the sky is the limit for me. I will do my best to accomplish my goals and so that those who support me can say, ‘David Sokolowski was one of our successes.’ A part of me will always bleed Panther black and gold and that isn’t just because of an athletics.
“I am humbled to be considered as a success at this point in my college career. I have so much more that I plan to accomplish before I leave this university.”