April 15, 2014
Just days after concluding his first spring practice at Vanderbilt, football coach Derek Mason spent one hour Tuesday introducing himself to members of Vanderbilt University's Public Affairs staff, where he was the guest speaker at the group's quarterly meeting.
Speaking to approximately 100 members of staff who represented a wide cross-section of departments on campus, Mason touched on a number of topics during his speech, which included 20 minutes devoted to questions from the audience.
The speech touched on many different areas, but was centered on Mason's three core values: faith, family and football. "Those are the values that are most important to me and they are in order of importance," Mason remarked.
Mason, who was hired in January after spending the last four seasons at Stanford, talked about his journey to become a head coach, which has taken him from coast to coast and many places in between. Mason mentioned that he is so well traveled that his oldest daughter, Makenzie, has moved nine times in 15 years. "I'm a football coach, but I am a father first," Mason said. "I've missed a lot of time watching my daughters grow up, and it isn't easy."
While at Stanford, Mason helped the Cardinal to four straight BCS bowl games, and helped cultivate one of the top defenses in college football. But while the success on the football field was exciting to him, Mason was even more proud of what was accomplished off the field. "More importantly, we graduated 100 percent of players," he said.
An underlying tone throughout his speech was the emphasis on working together to help grow Vanderbilt's brand together, whether it is locally or nationally. He has spent a good amount of time in the community since he has arrived on campus, and will look to continue to make more connections with time.
"Vanderbilt has a strong brand, and along with the help of people in this room, I want to help grow it," Mason said.
Mason also spoke of continuing the success at Vanderbilt with the foundation that has been laid, as well as the importance of growing the program not just on the field, but off it. One example he pointed to was the creation of an internship program for Vanderbilt's players to help better prepare them for life after college.
The speech provided attendees tremendous insight into who Mason is as a person and what he will bring to Vanderbilt University.