'Women In Sports' Profile: Pacific's Lauren Esbensen
Pacific associate athletic director Lauren Esbensen (left) presents Boxer Club Student-Athlete of the Month award.  Esbensen will be a featured panelist at the GNAC's
Pacific associate athletic director Lauren Esbensen (left) presents Boxer Club Student-Athlete of the Month award. Esbensen will be a featured panelist at the GNAC's "Women in Sports" seminar.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Third 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. 

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

Lauren Esbensen, Pacific University (Ore.)
Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator

Lauren Esbensen is Pacific University's associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator.  She began her duties in Forest Grove in 2012.

Her duties at Pacific include serving as the department’s compliance officer, oversight of the department’s booster club, Boxer Club, and oversight of the department’s club sports programs.  She also assists in the day-to-day oversight of Pacific’s 21 intercollegiate sports programs.

Prior to joining the Pacific staff, Esbensen spent five years at the University of Portland, where she managed the day-to-day compliance processes for the Pilots’ 15 NCAA Division I sports programs.  She also oversaw the department’s financial aid processes and initiated and expanded NCAA Life Skills programming for the department’s 250 student-athletes.

Prior to her arrival on the Bluff, Esbensen worked as a life skills intern at the University of Oregon, where she assisted in developing the department’s diversity plan and did gender equity reports for Oregon’s Division I certification report.  Before coming to the Northwest, Esbensen spent six months as an intern with the senior woman administrator at the University of Kansas.

A four-year varsity athlete at Kansas, Esbensen earned four letters as part of the Jayhawks’ nationally recognized cross country and track and field programs.  She specialized in the distances, competing in the 3,000 meters indoors and the 5,000 meters outdoors.

Esbensen graduated from Kansas in 2005 with a degree in sports management.  She earned her master’s in intercollegiate leadership from Washington in 2007.  She is a member of the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC).  Esbensen and her husband, Thor, reside in southeast Portland. 

College attended:

  • University of Kansas -- B.S.
  • University of Washington -- M. Ed.

College major:

  • Sport and Fitness Management -- B.S.
  • Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership -- M. Ed.

Current position: Associate Athletic Director / Senior Woman Administrator - Pacific University (Ore.)

Years in current position:  2 ½

Primary job responsibilities: Internal Operations, NCAA Compliance, Sport Oversight, Oversight of Intramural and Varsity Club Sport Programs, Game Management

Things I enjoy most about my job:

1)     Working with student-athletes and coaches

2)     Working with colleagues across campus

3)     Working with athletic administrators from other institutions

4)     Daily variety -- working with all aspects of the Athletic Department

First job in the sports industry: Internship at the University of Kansas -- NCAA Life Skills

Previous jobs in the sports industry:

  • Internship at the University of Oregon -- NCAA Life Skills
  • Director of Compliance and Student-Services -- University of Portland

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Karen Peters, Senior Associate Athletic Director, University of Portland; Dr. Renee Baumgartner, Deputy Athletic Director/Chief of Staff, Syracuse University

Most influential person in my early professional development (and why): Dr. Renee Baumgartner -- At the time I met her she was the Associate AD/SWA at the University of Oregon when I was working in Life Skills. Renee provided me multiple opportunities outside of Life Skills, including Title IX evaluations, sport management and NCAA certification. These experiences helped to shape the direction I eventually pursued in collegiate athletics.

How I got involved in my professional career: As a student-athlete at the University of Kansas I got involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which led to me spending time and working with many athletic administrators. The time I spent working with them solidified my desire to work in collegiate athletics.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: Inexperience. There will be times you have to volunteer your time and skills to gain experience that you can use to break into the industry.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path:

  • Confidence
  • Altruism
  • Humility

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: I would have taken additional business, leadership and speaking courses.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: NETWORK! Take the time to reach out to people doing the job you want to do and be willing to take their advice. Most professionals love to assist others in meeting their career goals, so don't be afraid to approach someone you don't know to talk about their work as well as what your goals are. Then remember to cultivate those relationships!

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)? My grandmother. I was not old enough when I knew her to appreciate the unique life she led. She lived through the Great Depression in the dust bowl, was a piano player in a speakeasy during the prohibition, worked outside the home for most of her life, didn't marry or have children until her late 30's early 40's, and was a true athlete who played many sports including basketball where she played with Babe Didrikson.

Favorite sports team:  Pacific University (Ore.) -- BOXERS!

Favorite athlete: Lauren Fleshman. Now a professional distance runner, entrepreneur, mom and activist in the track and field community.

Most memorable sports-related moment: Watching University of Kansas basketball games in historic Allen Fieldhouse and listening to the “Rock Chalk” chant.