Texas Tech University

Women Earn Top Spots in Sports Media Industry

Alana Krafsur

With the ever-changing pace of the media, industries need capable minds who are prepared, accomplished and ambitious. The sports media industry is no different, and the Sports Media Track under the Master of Arts in Mass Communication program is filled with students and alumni who have experience and knowledge to excel in this fast-paced digital age. Among these future sports communication professionals is master's student Hailey Herrick.

Herrick is a stand-out sports media student who is using her time in the master's program to its fullest potential. Herrick secured a high-profile sports media internship at the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

During her internship, Herrick was able to apply what she has learned in the program in a real-world setting. She had the opportunity to work on increasing fan engagement and generating social media content to boost excitement about the 2018 bowl game between Washington State and Iowa State.

“If we saw something that stood out or was really noteworthy to post right away, we had the freedom to do so,” Herrick said. “It was really great to allow my creative side to come out and put it to use.”

Herrick said the internship was a valuable learning experience that will help her stand out when looking for communication jobs in the NFL. 

When asked about her experience in the sports media track, Herrick immediately referenced her favorite professor, Jody Roginson, MA, a prominent sports communication professional with extensive industry experience. “She's helped me so much in being confident in my abilities and pushing me to try things that are outside of my comfort level,” Herrick said. “I truly would not be where I am without her.” 

Roginson plays a key role in the sports media track by helping students reach their individual goals.

“As much as possible, students are allowed to follow independent paths toward the type of front-office careers within the sport industry in our program,” Roginson said. “The opportunity to serve in an internship at a sport organization broadens this perspective, along with each student being able to develop their ability to research and present solutions to communication problems.”

The flexibility of the program allows students to pursue their own goals and has led to a diverse range of experience among alumni.

Alumna Marisa Hohensee (M.A. MCOM, 2018) was among one of many sports media students who used her time in the program to gain real-world experience. With a strong drive to further her skills, Hohensee secured an internship as a Festival-Support Community Outreach Intern with the 2018 Orange Bowl in Miami. Her duties consisted of preparing and working events such as the Orange Bowl Classic and game day activities involving the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide football teams.

Hohensee's experience working in the Orange Bowl taught her valuable lessons.

“I learned that this is the field I want to work in,” Hohensee said. “I also learned that it truly takes a village to run and operate anything in this industry.” She added that the program provided a defined direction of what she needed to learn to succeed in the sports industry.

Alumna Jessika McKernan (M.A. MCOM, 2012) is another example of outstanding alumni from the sports media track and was one of the first students in the track when it was originally implemented. Just like Herrick and Hohensee, McKernan also used the knowledge she acquired during the program to pursue high-profile opportunities post-graduation.

McKernan currently serves as Associate Director of Athletics Communications at Texas Tech. Her job is to promote Lady Raider Basketball and Lady Raider Tennis programs. This includes producing social media content, handling stats for each team, and acting as a liaison between the media and student-athletes and coaches. McKernan's time as a student in the sports media program helped her prepare for her current position.

“I think having specific classes geared toward media in sports helped me understand that there is so much that goes on in PR for sports,” McKernan said. “It also helped that we had great professors who had been in the sports industry before and could teach us from experience.”

She provided some additional insight regarding her experience working in the sports industry, a historically male-dominated field.

“I definitely think it is still a male-dominated industry, but there are a lot of women breaking the trend and becoming very successful,” McKernan said. “I think being in my role, working with women's sports, has really helped me speak out for women's rights. In a lot of ways, you have to remind people to think about the women athletes, and I try to do that in every aspect of my job.”

Roginson also added her personal insights regarding the topic of women in sports communication.

“No one could've stopped me from working in the sports industry when I began my career,” Roginson said. “My male colleagues were not condescending and did not hold me back in any way, as they quickly learned that I knew as much about sports and about my craft as was required for me to be successful. Because those bosses and mentors cared more about results than identity, I was able to advance.”

Roginson also added that the sports media industry has changed dramatically. “I'd say the biggest difference over the past nearly 40 years is the number of opportunities that are available,” she said. “Careers in sports are particularly competitive.”

Because of the growing popularity and competitiveness in the sports media industry, Roginson emphasized the importance of having a strong work ethic. “The key to a person's success in a sport media career is limited only by their willingness to learn, to maybe live somewhere they'd never imagined and to work hard. Very hard.”

Herrick, Hohensee and McKernan all exemplify these attributes and are examples of the successful graduates who represent the sports media program at the College of Media & Communication.

For more information about the sports media program at the College of Media & Communication, visit: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/comc/graduate/ma/tracks

To learn more about sports communication research within the College of Media & Communication, visit: https://www/depts.ttu.edu/comc/research/areas/sports/index.php