I took part in my first #YPSportsChat back in November of 2016. I am so glad Katie Prchlik started this chat because I have been able to connect with some awesome Sports Professionals from all over the world. One of those individuals is Jen Heisel. Jen is Assistant Media Relations director at San Diego State. There are six full-time SIDs in their department. She works with WBB, T&F, XC, football and social.
Each person I talk too has a different journey into the “Sports Business” industry. My dad passed away when I was 17 and Jen’s story about hockey and her dad brought back alot of memories as a child. My family and I used to always go to Cleveland Indians, Browns, and Cavs games together. Love of sport definitely grew from these experiences.
N.C. What made you want to work in sports? How were you able to get your foot in the door?
J.H. I wanted to work in sports because I grew up a huge NJ Devils fan, and where I was the happiest was at the rink. My dad and I would go to games and I’d memorize every player who wore each number. I even chose my college because they had an NHL team there (Buffalo) and it’s proximity to Canada, the epicenter of hockey. When I was in HS, I worked at a radio station and used that to get my foot in the door. I persistently emailed the Sabres and was offered an internship in their broadcast department. I then made connections with the Devils’ media relations department when they played at Buffalo and that translated into a media relations internship.
“If I knew then, what I know now,” is a common phrase. Experience is a great teacher. Jen has a few things she wish she would have know before she decided to embark on her Sport Business career.
N.C.: Looking back, what have you learned and wish you could tell your younger self about being a woman working in sports?
I wish I knew that, as a woman, I had to work twice as hard to get just as far because of people’s misconceptions about why I got into the business.
I didn’t start working in sports because I wanted to date an athlete (in fact, I know more about sports than my boyfriend). I’ve worked in sports since 2010 and since then, I’ve been asked which player I wanted to date because that’s obviously why I worked with the team, I’ve been called “sweetie”, “honey”, “girly” and “little lady”, to name a few, I’ve been asked if I know anything about sports, I’ve been openly ignored, interrupted and “mansplained”, I’ve been criticized for my attire (and anyone who knows me knows I dress conservatively), I’ve been graded against a harsher scale than my male counterparts, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
But I use people’s misconceptions of me and my gender as fuel. You don’t think I know anything about sports? Watch me rattle off some stats. You think I’m in it for the guys? If that was the case, this is certainly a weird and tiring way of going about it.
When I was younger, it used to hurt. Now, I just say, “watch me work harder and be better than you, all the while wearing heels and a smile on my face.”
I wish I could tell my younger self to find a woman in the business who I admire, reach out and learn from her. There aren’t a lot of us in the business but any woman I’ve met will do whatever she can to lift you up. We are a small group but we are mighty, and that’s the beauty of it.
Many of us relate fighting through adversity, using other people’s negative comments as motivation and fuel on the fire. This is another example of a strong willed female, making her presences felt
Follow Jen and her journey @jheis21
Follow @Cipbiz1988 for more sports business information.