Simons Brings SID Insight to Women in Sports Seminar
SMU sports information director Katie Simons will serve as a panelist at the GNAC-hosted Women in Sports Career Seminar on May 17 in Seattle.
SMU sports information director Katie Simons will serve as a panelist at the GNAC-hosted Women in Sports Career Seminar on May 17 in Seattle.
Katie Simons and fellow GNAC sports information director Barrett Henderson of Western Oregon give a thumbs up at the 2013-14 GNAC Basketball Championships, hosted by SMU in early March.
Katie Simons and fellow GNAC sports information director Barrett Henderson of Western Oregon give a thumbs up at the 2013-14 GNAC Basketball Championships, hosted by SMU in early March.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

Fifth in a series.

Previous Panelist Profiles

Lynda Goodrich, Western Washington (Jan. 24)
Kimberly Ford, NCAA (Jan. 31)
Chelsea Herman, Seattle University (Feb. 14)
Erin O'Connell, Seattle Pacific (Feb. 28)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Step into the office of Katie Simons and chances are you’ll know within seconds her role at Saint Martin’s University.

The walls are adorned with several decorative scarves representing English Premier League soccer teams, her desks bear the weight of meticulous game note packets, and on the floor next to her couch are boxes of Saints promo merchandise bearing SMU’s trademark “#halosup” social media emblem.

Welcome to the world of an NCAA Division II sports information director; part media relations, part journalism, and part pure chaos. What masters the madness is an immense passion for athletics, like the one that has been engrained in Simons from her childhood.

At the Women in Sports Career Seminar hosted by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in Seattle on May 17, Simons will serve as a panelist and share her career ventures with others aspiring to channel their passion for athletics into a career in the field.

Simons is currently in her second year at Saint Martin’s, after completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Regis University (Colo.). After her collegiate basketball career was cut short due to injury, Simons discovered the avenue to develop her love for sports while still in college.

“I got hurt and ended up not playing anymore, but I still really wanted to be around the team and the sport,” Simons said regarding the end of her basketball playing career. “I started off doing color commentary for basketball games at Regis on the radio and writing for the school newspaper.”

Simons quickly developed a knack for handling sports information duties, as many of the tasks came naturally to her. After compiling the archives and record books for the Regis athletics department as part of her senior history thesis, it dawned on Simons that a career in sports information could not only be a reality, but a perfect fit for her skill set.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be an SID until towards the second semester of my senior year, when I started to think that this is what I should do,” said Simons referring to her profession with the three-letter acronym commonly used by those in the athletics industry. “I applied to graduate school at Regis and talked to the SID there at the time and ended up getting a graduate assistant position with athletics.” 

Just as Simons was getting a feel for working in collegiate athletics, she was dealt an immediate challenge in the form of assuming the lead role of the sports information department at Regis. “My boss left right before the year started in August, and I was pretty much on my own through the fall and most of the first crossover season,” Simons said regarding one of the busiest times of the academic year for athletics staff.

After a year as a graduate assistant at Regis, a full time sports information assistant position opened up at Colorado School of Mines, which was close enough to Simons’ location at the time that she could continue her master’s degree and while assuming a larger role.

“Mines seemed like it would be a good fit, because I had been a student in the conference and had helped the staff there before during tournaments,” Simons said about the opening in Golden, Colo. “They knew who I was and it was the perfect timing and situation.”

It was during her time at Colorado School of Mines that Simons first developed what has become one of her strongest skills, as she implemented the college’s initial athletics social media presence. “I convinced my boss to finally start using social media during my second year at Mines, and I launched all of those platforms and was in charge of managing them,” Simons said.

After getting a taste of a full-time sports information gig as a graduate assistant at Regis, and honing her abilities in a variety of areas at Colorado Mines, Simons was primed and prepared to take on a full-time position when Saint Martin’s had an opening in 2012.

“I got a phone call while I was at the CoSIDA convention a few days after I interviewed for the SMU position,” Simons recalled of receiving notice she had gotten the job while at the largest national assembly of collegiate sports information directors. “I took the job right away and now I am in my second year here.” 

Though her stint coordinating the Saints’ athletics communications and media relations has been brief, she has brought about noticeable improvements that extend deeper than just the surface of the department.

“Katie has a significant impact on our department, and her ability to release information and promote athletes and programs in a timely manner plays a big role in our success,” SMU director of athletics Bob Grisham commented on Simons’ presence. “She has raised the bar in the area of sports information with the skills she has brought with her regarding social media.”

In addition to the day-to-day tasks of handling athletics press releases, statistics and sports scheduling, Simons serves as the supervisor for SMU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as well as the games management staff.

“It’s not the normal 9-to-5 job, but it’s fun because I get to write about sports and talk about these student-athletes,” Simons said about the extraordinary time demands of her position. “I get excited when I write a release about a player of the week or an all-conference player. We are here to serve our students and talk about who they are as people, and that’s why I come to work every day.”

“At a small school, you quickly learn to master your position, but also learn to take on other tasks,” SMU head men’s and women’s soccer coach Rob Walker said. “Katie impacts the jobs she knows well and she takes on new jobs with enthusiasm and care. Her efforts as an SID and in other assigned tasks have made our department a bigger portion of the SMU community.” 

Perhaps one of the biggest tasks that has fallen into Simons’ lap is event management and hosting, which is an area she has thrived in and taken in stride. SMU has hosted the GNAC men’s and women’s basketball championships for the past three seasons, and Simons stepped into the crucial role of tournament media coordinator the past two years without skipping a beat.

“I have always been very comfortable with planning and running events,” Simons said. “I was fairly independent at both of my prior jobs and putting on events is something I have always enjoyed being a part of.”

As Simons moves into the final spring sports stretch of another academic year, her presence at the helm of the SMU sports information department is now stronger than ever. Part of her continual success is her ability to adapt to a rapidly changing industry, and embrace constant developments in a progressively minded manner.

“The profession has certainly changed, and in addition to writing press releases social media has altered the landscape of our job immensely,” Simons said regarding the constantly shifting world of digital marketing and interaction. “I have really made an effort to make that something important here at SMU, and I have had great support from the entire campus across the board.”

As Simons continues to excel in her role at SMU, she is vehement in noting that getting into the sports information industry was something that came from within.

“At first, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer so I applied to law school, but the whole time I kept thinking in my head that I needed to do something that I was really going to enjoy,” Simons said about her early career ambitions. “The more I thought about it, I had always been so into sports from a young age, and I figured there had to be a way to get a job in athletics.”

Simons’ message to participants at the Women in Sports Career Seminar will echo the sentiments that rang through her head as an undergraduate, as she is adamant about inspiring a similar passion in young women interested in athletics.

“It is all about finding your passion, and I feel like I am still learning new things every day,” Simons said. “You have to be committed and make some sacrifices, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do for my career.”

For more information regarding the Women in Sports Career Seminar, visit the related links section of this article. To register for the event at the Washington Convention and Trade Center in Seattle on May 17, click here.

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