Editorial Note: In a first for NEXT UP, prior to publication, Brian Baptiste was named Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation at La Salle University on June 3, 2019. Baptiste was selected NEXT UP on May 8, 2019.
“It was in 2011, my mom sustained a life-changing injury, paralyzed from the waist down after an outpatient procedure. I knew then, you have to EMBRACE EVERY DAY, make the most of every single day.” -Brian Baptiste
Brian Baptiste is working hard to maximize every moment. After an event that changed his family’s life eight years ago, he’s changed his outlook on just about everything. Baptiste brings his enthusiasm for athletics — and life in general — to his position as Deputy Director of Athletics for Capital Projects and Operations at Northwestern University.
“It’s hard to get me down, I always look for the positive in every situation,” Baptiste explains. “I carry that over to how I motivate my team. It starts with listening and learning, then you can build trust and find the factors that drive that person in their own life.”
Baptiste began at Northwestern in 2013. In less than three years, he was elevated to Deputy Director of Athletics for Capital Projects and Operations. In his current role, he is responsible for all capital projects for Athletics and has oversight of athletic facilities, event management, equipment services and recreation. On top of all of that, he serves as the sport administrator for men’s basketball and women’s cross country. Baptiste strives for success in every facet of his position.
“It’s all about the manifestation of a goal and looking at what you are doing every day to make sure you are working on that desired outcome. Success is something that I look for every day to make sure my actions align with a goal,” he says.
Baptiste has reached some amazing goals during his time at Northwestern. He currently leads the construction effort that is transforming the athletics lakefront campus, including the $260 million Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center. These facilities will provide one of the most versatile practice, competition and recreation venues in the nation. Baptiste says his family isn’t the only thing motivating him in athletics; his student-athletes drive him to succeed as well.
“I have to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to help the young people that we work with succeed. It impacts every decision. From inclusion and diversity to facilities, how are my decisions helping them succeed every day?”
Baptiste says his journey to where he is now wasn’t without its challenges; it took him a while to take charge of his own path. He encourages others to learn from his hardships.
“As an undergrad and in law school, I let people sort of steer me away from my passion, athletics. You know, I passed the Bar and it should have been a joyous moment, but something was missing. I said ‘enough is enough.’ I finally went after my passion with a goal to work in athletics.”
He says his mother instilled in him a drive to truly go after his dreams, and that drive has led him to encourage others to seize the opportunities presented to them with open arms. Baptiste also explains he’s grown into his position by looking internally.
“It starts inside, a lot of self-reflection, making sure the values that you have remain consistent,” he explains. “Never let anyone put you in a position where you are compromising yourself. Self-reflection really makes you keep an eye on the things that matter and make sure you are developing yourself and the people around you.”
Baptiste’s drive and passion to embrace every day with his team and his family sets him apart from many of his peers. We are honored to celebrate Brian Baptiste as a NEXT UP honoree.