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NFL, Microsoft Team Up To Find Future Sports Tech Experts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It is about sports, with a different angle. NFL Alumni and Microsoft have come together to encourage students to look for careers in sports that don't require athletic ability -- but a focus on technology.

We all know what goes on in high school sports. For most, this is where their athletic career ends. But it doesn't mean their sports career is over.

A group of NFL alumni have teamed with Microsoft and others to create a Pro Experience Day. It is a seminar that introduces high school students to think about sports beyond between the lines.

"Started out there was going to be some activities and some Microsoft involvement where the kids, if they wanted to be in sports, weren't the athletes, to be involved in sports in other avenues. And then there was going to be my expertise, combine-type drills on the field," said former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice. "It has evolved to no football-related drills on the field, and all mental, head stuff."

And so they now bring it on the road; a one-day exposure to how technology and sports are married.

NFL Pro Experience Sports Technology
(credit: CBS)

"We see huge opportunities. We see from sportsmanship, you know, we talk about it, to collaboration, teamwork, resilience and everything from the football players and other athletes," said Chun Lu, Microsoft senior business program manager. "And at the same time, we see the technology part is going to be integrating everybody's life."

Take kids that have had success and teach them there is something else that can captivate a new thought process.

"I have a torn ACL right now, and over there he said that GPS would like know that I have that based on what I do with my movements and everything," said Cooper High School center Cedric Williams.

Much of it has to do with teaching safety tools through technology. In other words, the market place is looking at health factors.

"I always wanted to be a mechanical engineer, so just thinking of all the things, like the things they're building was pretty amazing, and I want to be part of the people that build those things for all the players," said Osseo High School senior Ellise Elomangstose.

But the only way to do that is to make sure you stimulate the audience.

"Our first group we did a few weeks back, we had 50 students at the Microsoft workshop, and at the beginning of the 50 students, three of them raised their hand when asked the question, "Would you ever think about, you know, a career in technology,'" said Dean Dalton, co-founder Pro Day Experience. "After the workshop, 38 out of 50 raised their hands and said, 'Absolutely.'"

So they are constantly trying to invigorate, to use video gaming as a tool to whet an appetite.

"Fun is the number-one priority [laughs]!" Lu said.

Because as they much as they enjoy the big game, technology is where the direction of a possible future. Marry the two and you have something special.

"The future is technology, right, and we all know it," Dalton said. "You and I didn't use to carry around a computer in our pocket and make calls and do all those things, so that's the future. So we're using sports as the attraction, and we're showing technology used in sports, but we're also using technology to show STEM education and other opportunities, and open up all these career paths."

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