Student Spotlight: NBA Superstar Nate Wigal
We all have dreams. Some of us have larger aspirations than others. But no matter the scale of our dreams, they all share one common trait; they hold value to each of us as individuals. While you may share your dream with many other people, it is your own strategy and desire that will inevitably determine if you achieve your dreams.
“Dear God, please let me get to the NBA.”
Those are the words that Urbana University senior Nate Wigal would pray every night before he went to bed. His dream was to reach the highest level one can reach in the game of basketball, the National Basketball Association. In fact, it was basketball that attracted Nate to Urbana University after spending his first two years of undergraduate education at Ohio University’s Zanesville campus. Nate never anticipated that Urbana would lead him off the court but still guide him on a path towards the NBA.
In May 2012, Nate began an internship with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. He works within their group sales department and is living in Lake Orion, Michigan. This position requires Nate to work approximately 50 hours a week while he learns the ropes inside the front office of an NBA franchise. The opportunity has everyone beaming with pride.
“You have to do things to get there. You have to realize the amount of work that it takes to get into a field like this.”
Work ethic has never been a question for Nate. While still playing basketball competitively, Nate would practice on his own, at times for up to five hours a day. This was done independently outside of the structured team practices. After deciding that basketball was not in his long term plans, Nate channeled a strong work ethic into his classroom efforts and career search. This effort shines through in Nate’s 3.7 GPA at Urbana University.
Nate’s path to his internship was one that featured him displaying his strong skill sets and taking advice and direction from Urbana University faculty and staff. Nate was also in consideration for internships with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Charlotte Bobcats. However, when Urbana’s sports studies professor, Dale Gresson, took students on a trip to visit the Pistons, Nate saw a prime opportunity to get his foot in the door, and one step closer to his dream.
Taking the advice of Nick Christian, Director of Career Services at Urbana, Nate placed a call to the inside sales department at the Pistons organization. He made it clear that he would soon be in the area and would love the chance to pitch his case to the person responsible for choosing internship candidates.
“The rest of the class went on a tour around 4 p.m.; that is when I met with the director of Group Sales. We sat down and I cut right to the chase. I told him ‘I don’t mean to brag, but this is my chance to sell myself to you’. The interview lasted about ten minutes. After a two week wait, the sales executive called to offer me the internship.”
Selling is one of Nate’s strong points. Having worked in sales for several years, he believes it was this experience, coupled with his GPA and confidence that landed him the internship.
“My confidence is unwavering and I can speak publicly with ease. Whether it is my job at American Eagle or selling 50/50 raffle tickets, I have always excelled at sales.”
Nate knows that there have been plenty of people who have played a key role in helping him follow his dream. He states that his parents’ support has been immeasurable to this point. Additionally, the strong connections that Nate has with the faculty at Urbana helped mold him into the aggressive candidate that could chase the dream.
Nate is extremely excited about the opportunity he has with the Detroit Pistons. He hopes to take this experience and use it to propel his career forward while making valuable connections within the industry. He plans to complete his Urbana University degree requirements before eventually searching for a permanent career in an NBA front office. And while he isn’t taking the path he originally planned, Nate is certainly happy that his prayers were answered.
“The ironic part is that I didn’t actually ever pray to play in the NBA, and I ended up there anyway”.
Join us in wishing Nate Wigal the best of luck as he takes his Blue Knight pride into the front offices of the NBA.
Nate is pictured outside of the Detroit Pistons Stadium, The Palace of Auburn Hills. Photograph taken by Amber Kingsley.