By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – While many student athletes dream of becoming professional athletes one day, history shows most will find a career outside of sports. One organization in Denver, “Athletics and Beyond,” made it their mission to encourage young men to excel in their sport, while also preparing for a career and life outside of football.

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To encourage their young athletes to advance themselves academically and professionally, Athletics and Beyond organized a seven-on-seven football tournament at Montbello High School. There, between games, athletes and their families were given access to professionals in different industries in Colorado.

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“We want to help (student athletes) get wherever it is that you want to go,” said Kyle Reese, coach of one of the participating teams. “The draw is football. But, anyone who has ambitions beyond the high school level, they need a path drawn out for them.”

(credit: CBS)

While much of the attention at the tournament was on the touch-football games, parents and athletes were forced to walk around a career fair at the front gate of the field before entering the facility.

Organizers, like Reese, said opportunities like this encourage teams to consider life after sports.

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“Even if you do go pro, and you play for five years and you are 27, what are you going to do?” Reese said.

Students with team “TCO” also undergo study sessions away from the field and are given access to tutors to better prepare for SAT and ACT testing.

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“We compete in everything. We can compete in academics. We can have the best GPA,” Reese said. “Athletics may not be in their future. Do you want to go to college and accrue debt, or do you want to start your career in construction? Or, do you want to intern in a flight program?”

(credit: CBS)

Receiver Drea Thompson told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas he wanted to explore a career in aerospace engineering, or aviation. While he loves the sport, he wanted to take time between games to meet engineers at the career fair.

“Certain people can help you go a long way with certain things. Especially if you know them well. So, it is great to make connections,” Thompson said.

His mother, Erin Thompson, said she was pleased to see how well her son and his team performed on and off the field.

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“He’s taken advantage of the SAT prep,” Erin said, noting her son’s score improvement in mathematics.

While scoring on the field is a great bonding moment filled with temporary highs for the team, Drea said he more so wanted to help his fellow athletes find a strong path to success off the field.

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“I want to see my friends succeed,” he said.

Dillon Thomas