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'Women in Sports' Profile: Katie Simons of Timbers/Thorns
Katie Simons spent two years as SID at NCAA DII member St. Martin's University before taking a position in media relations with the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns.
Katie Simons spent two years as SID at NCAA DII member St. Martin's University before taking a position in media relations with the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Latest in a series

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. In addition, the seminar will include a "professional development segment" and networking reception presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event.

Katie Simons, Portland Timbers/PortlandThorns
Media Relations Coordinator 

College attended: Regis University (Denver, Colo.)

College major: Bachelor's degree in history; minor in communications; master's degree in communications

Current position: Media Relations Coordinator for Portland Timbers / Portland Thorns

Years in current position: Since May 2014

Primary job responsibilities: Currently the primary media contact for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), and a secondary media contact for the Portland Timbers. I am also responsible for all press releases, game recaps, game previews and game notes for Thorns FC. Oversee the press box on game day of all Thorns FC matches, while handling pre- and post-game duties such as coordinating press conferences.

Things I enjoy most about my job: Getting to watch some of the best women's soccer players in the world train every day, and watching soccer at the best stadium in MLS and the NWSL.

First job in the sports industry: In college I worked many basketball camps and clinics in the summer. First real full-time job in the sports industry was as the assistant sports information director at Colorado School of Mines.

Previous jobs in the sports industry:

  • 2007-08 -- GA at Regis University
  • 2008-2012 -- Assistant SID at Colorado School of Mines
  • 2012-2014 -- Sports Information Director at Saint Martin's University

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Frank Kohlenstein, who is currently the head men's soccer coach at Colorado School of Mines, helped me develop a strong passion and love for soccer. I have worked with a ton of coaches during my career and I'm not sure there has been one who has shown more appreciation for the work I did day in and day out. That respect was definitely influential in pushing me to get where I am now. During my time with Frank at Mines I started watching more and more soccer on a regular basis. From Champions League, to EPL, to MLS and on top of that we would sit and talk with Frank about those topics every time I visited his office. Over time I continued to want to learn more and more about soccer, and without Frank's influence I would not be where I am today.

Most influential person in my early professional development: Jeff Duggan was the sports information director at Colorado School of Mines during my four years there. I've never met a more organized and meticulous person in the profession. He helped me get where I am today by preparing me for all the crazy things that are thrown at you during the course of the work day. Understanding the importance of organization and preparing in advance has helped me better handle last-minute requests that can turn your day on its head. He also helped instill a strong work ethic in me. At the same time he let me develop and work on my own. He never micromanaged me and trusted me to do my work at a very high level. Most importantly, he saw me as an equal and as someone he could learn from as well.

How I got involved in my professional career: I've always had a passion for sports. For as long as I can remember I had my nose in a book reading about sports or I was playing sports. And for some reason I have always had the ability to remember information, facts and figures and stats about different sports. I played college basketball and had my career cut short by injury, but wanted to stay involved. I wrote for the newspaper, served as the color analyst for radio broadcasts for Regis basketball games and interned in the sports information office. I even did an archiving project by going through all the old records and stats my senior year as my history internship. I had applied to Seattle University for the sports administration program, but wasn't quite ready to leave Colorado. I kept asking if I could work and stay at Regis and in the spring during my senior year the SID at the time said he had gotten approval for me to work as a graduate assistant. From there I worked my way up the ladder.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: Very simply, doubt. Whether it is your own internal doubt, or others around you that doubt your abilities, you have to continue to believe in yourself no matter what the circumstances. You need to step back and say to yourself, “I am great at what I do,” every single day you work in this profession. In media relations, sports information, athletic communications, the job can often be thankless, and often times you are only recognized that 1 out of 100 times you make a tiny mistake, but you need to be able to step back, take a deep breath and trust and believe in yourself.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: Passion, organization, focus and drive.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: Honestly, I wish I would have taken a more proactive approach in my career path. I loved sports, but I spent a lot of time working towards doing things that I wasn’t passionate about, but I thought were “good” decisions. Without a doubt, follow your passion and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Learn as much as you can and take advantage of as many opportunities as you possibly can. One summer I emailed a local conference office to see if they needed any help. They said they couldn't pay me, but I went and worked anyone. I gained professional references and resources in that short time and in the end I was rewarded for my hard work. Push yourself and understand that sometimes you have to take steps forward and then some steps backwards to get where you want to be. Also, don't forget about work-life balance, make that a priority.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)? One is related to my profession, the other another passion of mine. One of my other passions is Crossfit. It keeps me sane. I'd love to be able to sit down with Rich Froning, he's won the Crossfit Games four consecutive years and is arguably one of the most fit people in the world. I'd love to talk about fitness and health and just what he has done to get himself in such amazing shape. The second person is Sid Hartman, who is currently a sports journalist and sports radio personality in the Twin Cities area. The man is 94 and never went to college but he is one of the most respected people in the business. To be able to talk to him about everything from the evolution of sports over the last 25 years in the media, how his job has changed, social media, etc; the list goes on and on and I only hope I have the passion and vigor for what I do when I get to be his age.

Favorite sports team: Minnesota Vikings and Tottenham Hotspur and, of course, the Timbers and Thorns.

Favorite athlete: Basketball is my first love, so I would have to say John Stockton. Oddly enough one year when I was working at Mines I looked across the gym and he was sitting there alone in an empty gym as his younger son's team was playing a non-conference game. My boss at the time wouldn't let me go over and say hello, he still likes to joke about that, but I would love to talk basketball with him since he was my favorite player growing up.

Most memorable sports-related moment: That's a tough one. So I will pick one from each of my jobs.

  • Mines -- Watching the Mines women's soccer team advance to its first NCAA Elite 8. They upset Metro State in a PK shootout in 2010, GK Briana Schulze saved three PK's.
  • Saint Martin's -- When the SMU softball team won the regular season conference and tournament championship in 2013. It was just the second conference championship in school history. That season was pretty special and so was that group of girls.
  • Thorns -- Winning 1-0 on the final day of the 2014 against Seattle in clinch a spot in the playoffs and having 19,123 fans pack Providence Park for our Aug. 3 game against Houston. Amazing crowd. Oh and getting to work at the 2014 MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich.
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