The Lucky Ones

On March 31, 2017 professionals in the business of sport came from all over the Pacific Northwest to share their experiences with Washington State University students. The WSU Sport Management program hosted the Career Exploration Fair to help inform students of different career paths that their education could prepare them for. There were speakers who hold management positions in community, recreation, high school, collegiate, and professional sport organizations.

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One of the speakers who got the most attention from WSU Sport Management students was Otto Klein, the Senior Vice President of the Spokane Indians. The Spokane Indians are a short season minor league baseball team that draws about a hundred thousand fans each season. The Career Exploration Fair had different benefits for students of various experience levels. I think that for underclassmen, the day provided information that could help them determine what kind of sport career they want to focus on and work toward. Some upperclassmen were looking for internship opportunities and others who have internships secured were looking to learn more about the work environments they will be in following graduation.

While I was listening to Otto Klein speak about what he does as the Vice President of the Spokane Indians one thing was abundantly clear, he loves his job. Klein mentioned that he has often heard friends say that they are dreading going into work on Monday morning. This doesn’t happen for the VP of the Spokane Indians; he is excited to go into work every single day. While talking to students, he reminded them that working in sport is fun and if you get to go to work every day at the baseball field or the gym or the stadium or arena you are one of the lucky ones. As young people entering into the world of sport management we need to remember to work hard but still have fun.

As a senior who is graduating in May, I will be entering the workforce as a sport professional in the very near future. I have accepted an internship with Washington State University Athletics and will be working full time plus working sport events on weekends. The transition from student to professional is both intimidating and exciting. I appreciated the talk that Otto Klein gave because it helped remind me why I decided to come to Washington State University and earn a Sport Management degree. All of the hard work is going to lead into a career in the sport world where I will be excited to go into the workplace each day. My fellow upcoming graduates and I are thrilled to be taking the next steps in our career paths as sport managers. We are the lucky ones.

How I March

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2017 Women’s March in Moscow, ID – Courtesy of Kai Eiselein Moscow-Pullman Daily News

On January 21, 2017 over 2,600 community members participated in the Women’s March on the Palouse in Moscow, ID. This event happened concurrently with other women’s marches that occurred around the United States and around the world. The organizer of the Moscow march said that these marches were meant to send a message to the incoming (presidential) administration that “we [women] are not about to back down.” Women in the United State have rights and opportunities that women in some other countries can only dream about. We can go to school, go to work, vote, marry a man or woman of our choosing, express ourselves creatively, and more. Women need to stay strong in order to keep these rights and opportunities.

There are many women with careers in various sectors that I look up to as role models. I am pursuing a career in the field of sport, more specifically collegiate athletics, a field that is most often controlled by men. During the College Football Playoffs, I found out that the athletic directors for both the University of Washington and Penn State University, two of the top five teams in 2016, are women. Sandy Barbour is the athletic director for Penn State University and Jen Cohen is the athletic director for the University of Washington. While I do not know if Sandy Barbour or Jen Cohen participated in one of the many women’s marches, I do know that they have encouraged me to stay strong in my career pursuit. There are women in every single field of work that are excelling and acting as role models to young girls everywhere.

Seeing women in administrative roles of athletic departments is still rare but Barbour and Cohen are making career moves that will help women for years to come. These women are running some of the most elite collegiate programs in the country. While all college athletic departments are in competition with each other Barbour and Cohen support the other women working in college athletics administration. When Barbour was asked about supporting other women in similar roles she said, “We have to pull for each other, we have to back each other, and we have to hold each other up.” I think that this mentality is important for young women who are entering into the workforce. If women help each other achieve their individual goals instead of looking at others as competition, we can achieve more as a whole. Seeing what Sandy Barbour has done at Penn State and what Jen Cohen has done at the University of Washington, gives me hope for my future career and for other young women who have goals similar to mine.

I did not participate in one of the women’s marches. My personal beliefs did not align with every message that I think the marches sent. I do believe in strong women and that we have the power to do anything we put our minds to. I personally try to represent this belief by working toward my goals every day in a way that is honest and respectable. I hope to lead by example and someday influence other young women in a way similar to how Sandy Barbour and Jen Cohen have influenced me. Whether a woman decides to attend a women’s march or to march into work and prove themselves, they can make a difference for the next generation of young girls.