Wenger to Serve as Women in Sport Panelist
Kim Wenger, currently in her second year as commissioner of the Northwest Conference, will serve as a panelist at the Women in Sports Career Seminar hosted by the GNAC on May 17 in Seattle.
Kim Wenger, currently in her second year as commissioner of the Northwest Conference, will serve as a panelist at the Women in Sports Career Seminar hosted by the GNAC on May 17 in Seattle.

Friday, May 2, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

Eleventh in a series

Previous Panelist Profiles
Lynda Goodrich, WWU (Jan. 24)
Kimberly Ford, NCAA (Jan. 31)
Chelsea Herman, Seattle University (Feb. 14)
Erin O'Connell, SPU (Feb. 28)
Katie Simons, SMU (March 20)
Tammy Dunn, SCSC (March 28)
Ariko Iso, OSU (April 4)
Cori Metzgar-Deacon, WOU (April 11)
Julie Mitchell, WBB Referee (April 18)
Diane Flick, WWU (April 25)

PORTLAND, Ore. -  Running sports tournaments and championships has always held a special place in Kim Wenger’s heart.

It is a phrase that gets tossed around with regularity throughout the world of athletics – collegiate and professional alike. But rarely is the concept of  “running championships” given justice by its title.

From the perspective of a conference commissioner, the process begins more than a year in advance, and extends beyond the completion of the event into evaluation and assessment. This is the role Wenger enjoys most and has come to embrace throughout her career.

“I have always loved the behind the scenes aspect of how tournaments are run,” said Wenger. “I love the championship time of the year.” 

Currently serving as the commissioner of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference, Wenger will lend her experience and joyful attitude to the Women in Sports Career Seminar hosted by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference at the Washington Convention and Trade Center in Seattle on May 17.

“Most of us who have careers in athletics started out as interns or graduate assistants,” Wenger said. “If you are just getting started, the best thing to do is to apply for internships, whether it be with an institution, the NCAA or a different organization.”

For Wenger, an early interest in sports growing up spurred an assistant position in the sports information office at her alma mater Lock Haven University.

“I grew up in a small town playing softball when I was younger, then I played tennis in high school,” Wenger said of her home town of Pen Argyl, Penn. “I was also the manager of our wrestling team, and I loved keeping the scorebook and things like that for lots of sports.” 

At Lock Haven, Wenger discovered an outlet to utilize her interest in sports while pursuing her undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communication.

“My junior year, I decided to try the SID route and applied for a job as a student worker at Lock Haven,” Wenger remembered. “Will Adair was the SID there at the time and is now the Associate Commissioner at the PSAC, and he taught me everything. He was my mentor.”

Instantly thriving in the world of collegiate media relations, Wenger remained close to home as she pursued her master’s degree at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

“I was a graduate assistant in the SID office at Kutztown, and that’s where I really did a little bit of everything,” said Wenger of the school where she earned her MS in electronic media. “I was able to fine tune a lot of skills and I started to broaden my horizons in terms of where I saw my career going.”

Having excelled in her role as a media relations and sports information assistant, Wenger sought to continue her exploration of different collegiate athletic career options. When an opportunity to work at the conference level presented itself, Wenger decided to stray from her post at a school to take on a more global perspective.

“I was hired by the Centennial Conference to be the assistant commissioner in 2002,” said Wenger. “I loved working at an institution, but at the time I really wanted to try something new. I started out working in sports information primarily in the Centennial Conference, then I had more and more responsibilities added on each year.”

Eventually Wenger had her hand in all of the conference’s operations, including compliance, scheduling, championships, and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

“I was able to get a pretty well-rounded experience after being promoted to associate commissioner five years in,” Wenger said. “I loved working with SAAC and I was fascinated by compliance. I really liked the problem solving involved with those questions that came up.”

Building her experience around virtually every area associated with collegiate athletics, by the time the job at the Northwest Conference opened up it all but fell into Wenger’s lap.

“After 10 years I felt it was time to take the next step,” Wenger said regarding applying for the job in the summer of 2012. “I was hired in September, so I packed my family up in a car and we drove across the country for a week.”

The Pacific Northwest was a completely new world to Wenger, who had never ventured to the area until called upon for the NWC job interview. Wenger was aware of the culture in the area however, as she kept in touch with several of her long time SID friends who held jobs in the Oregon and Washington area.

“I have friends who were SIDs in the NWC prior to my job offer,” Wenger said. “I had always been aware of the conference, and I liked how it was still somewhat new to the NCAA.”

Wenger has experience almost every area related to collegiate athletics, and she has found a comfortable home at the Division III level that she feels will serve her well.

“I love Division III, and I feel like I’ve found a niche here,” Wenger said. “I love the principles surrounding it, and really everything about it.”

Continuing to apply her skills at the Division III level also provides a platform for Wenger to continue to grow and learn - an opportunity she believes is critical in a person’s career.

“In a conference office there is always something new every day that comes up,” Wenger said. “There is always a problem or a question or a phone call from somebody. There’s never a dull moment and there is always a different challenge, but that is why I really like it.”

The opportunity to constantly add more skills to her repertoire is something Wenger has always jumped at throughout her career, and believes accepting challenges to do as much as possible is what has led to her success. 

“As I came up in my career I found myself asking for those experiences and jobs,” Wenger said. “I always felt like I wanted to learn more.” 

When Wenger shares her tips for success as a panelist at the Women in Sports Career Seminar, she will emphasize the importance of utilizing the resources and opportunities that may be closer than one would assume. 

“From my perspective, you should seek out internships for anything you have a passion for and a field you would like to get into,” said Wenger. “Reach out to people in positions that you may be interested in, find a mentor and see if you can build that relationship. The key is to get your name out there, and there are tons of resources for internships and for people to get their foot in the door.”

For more information on the Women in Sports Career Seminar, visit the "related links" section of this article. To register for the event, click here.