On Leaving A Career In Athletics

I was a wide-eyed sophomore when I started working for Sun Devil Athletics. Naive but determined, I served as an intern for my remaining three years as an undergraduate in the media relations department. Starting out as a kid who did little more than hand out stats and type out quotes, I slowly worked my way up and found my niche with gymnastics. Eventually, I was given all communications responsibilities for the gymnastics my senior year. My hard work paid off, and upon graduation I was hired as a full time assistant Sports Information Director.

For three years I had the privilege of working with gymnastics, swimming and diving, tennis, and women’s golf. I experienced the highs and lows of being part of a team. My final year as an SID, I tinkered with social media and decided to take a crack at a Social Media Coordinating position opening in the SDA Marketing department. I was hired, and have been here since August of 2010.

I am leaving Sun Devil Athletics to pursue a communications specialist position with the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at ASU. The opportunities with the position are endless and I am excited for life beyond athletics.

I do want to reflect on the past seven and a half years I have worked in Sun Devil Athletics. Here are some of my favorite moments that I was personally a part of:

1. Women’s Golf NCAA Championship 2009. After 11 years, ASU Women’s Golf finally claimed their seventh NCAA title. The team had been through so much adversity: the loss of NCAA Golf’s No. 1 player to the pro ranks, Missy Farr-Kaye (the associate head coach) not being with the team for part of the season due to breast cancer treatments, their senior leader being sidelined for part of it due to a wrist injury. Even in the championship tournament, the team battled back from 11 strokes behind to claim their title. It was amazing to see and I am so happy I was part of it
2. Football finally beating USC. Being a native of southernish California, I have many good friends who are fans of the Trojans. After many years of torment, it was extremely fulfilling to see my Devils finally (FINALLY) beat up on the Scarlet and Gold. I’m still smiling thinking about this.
3. Women’s Hoops Elite 8 2007. My senior year of college, I traveled with the women’s basketball team to Greensboro, N.C. for the NCAA Regional. While the team fell short of their goal of reaching the Final Four, the determination and heart shown by the team was beyond inspiring.
4. Hitting 100,000 Facebook Likes One of my biggest professional accomplishments was reaching the 100,000 mark on Facebook Likes on the Arizona State Sun Devils Facebook page. We were only the 28th collegiate program to do so, and it felt great to raise the fan base by over 60,000 fans within the short time in my role.
5. Rebranding Campaign Being a part of our rebranding campaign was another highlight of my career in athletics. Being a bit of a traditionalist, I was skeptical at first of changing the look of Sun Devil Athletics. I feel Nike did a fantastic job and the staff for rebranding committee was top-notch. Our social media numbers soared and I feel people truly like the new look. I feel it was very beneficial working with employees from different departments from around campus and we would not have been as successful without them.

Favorite Athletes that I have worked with:
Gymnastics:
Nicole Harris – while there was some complications with Nicole, she was such a beautiful gymnast to watch and was always pleasant to me.
Mary Atkinson – She gracefully combined athletics and academics and was a true role model.
Golf:
Azahara Munoz – Aza was arguably the finest student-athlete I have worked with. There were so many positive stories to pitch and write about her… It is a pleasure to see her so successful in the LPGA.
Giulia Molinaro – One of the friendliest student-athletes I have worked with. She always greats me with a smile and a hug. While I am not working with her this season, it is fun to watch her turn into a top-notch college golfer.
Swimming & Diving
Micky Benedetti and Constantin Blaha – Always engaging, these two are incredibly successful in the diving well and I am so thrilled to watch them (fingers crossed they qualify) in the upcoming Olympics.
Jen Beckberger – I didn’t get to know too many of the swimmers, but Jen frequently greeted me with a smile. She was funny in interviews and a force to reckon with in the pool. Hopefully we see her competing for Canada in the upcoming London Games.
Tennis
TJ Bellama – I only worked with men’s tennis for one year before the team was cut, but I feel privileged to have gotten to know TJ. He was smart and fun to watch on the court.
Michelle Brycki – Michelle is another student-athlete I am proud to have worked with. Being able to balance tennis and the strenuous course load in the Walter Cronkite School is an accomplishment in itself. Seeing her go undefeated in regular season dual-match play was thrilling and I know she will be a successful broadcast journalist upon graduation.

In addition, words cannot express how thankful I am for being able to have three people guide me in my career. I would not be where I am today if it were not for Associate Athletic Director of Communications Mark Brand, Director of Media Relations Doug Tammaro and Women’s Gymnastics Head Coach John Spini taking a chance on a college kid years ago. Thank you.

I’m thankful for the time I have spent with athletics but am thrilled to work with CSPO. It will be exhilarating to work with people who can change public policy, and push these ideas into the public.

For all who have helped me along the way, I just want to say thank you.
Go Devils!
Jen

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