Packed House for Second 'Women in Sports' Seminar
More than 150 women attended the GNAC's second-annual Women in Sports seminar Saturday.
More than 150 women attended the GNAC's second-annual Women in Sports seminar Saturday.
Whitney Wagoner, program manager & senior instructor at the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, was Saturday's keynote speaker.
Whitney Wagoner, program manager & senior instructor at the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, was Saturday's keynote speaker.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

PORTLAND, ORE. – The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, in association with the Portland Trail Blazers, hosted the 2015 "Women in Sports" seminar at Memorial Coliseum in Portland Saturday.

The event was designed for high school and college-aged women interested in sports-related careers. The seminar provided an opportunity for attendees to network and learn from working professionals in a wide range of fields across the sports industry.

More than 150 women from the U.S. and Canada attended the event, now in its second year.

“We had high-hopes for this year’s event and we’ve received nothing but positive feedback so far,” event coordinator and assistant GNAC commissioner Bridget Tetteh said. “Our goal was to provide learning and networking opportunities for young women looking to break into the sports field and I think everyone who attended this event, including our panelists, benefited from this experience.”

These young adults had a chance to meet-and-greet with 24 female professionals in fields such as coaching, administration, business and international/external operations in small-group settings.

Whitney Wagoner, the senior instructor and program manager of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, opened the five-hour seminar with an inspirational keynote address, ultimately advising attendees that "it is a competitive industry and opportunities are hard to come by. You have to be very proactive and work very hard to create opportunities for yourself."

Wagoner went on to tell the participants that realizing one's professional dreams "is singularly up to you ... your job search, your professional development, your career path."

After panelists were introduced in groups associated with their field, the seminar was split into 10 different sessions where students had a chance to talk with these professionals for 15 minutes at a time.

Panelists from the Trail Blazers, Nike, The Oregonian, Portland Timbers, Red Bull and administrators and coaches from various colleges and universities were present.

Panelist Katie Simons, the Portland Timbers & Thorns media relations coordinator, gave some advice for her guests stating “no matter what, follow your heart, your passion and don’t be surprised if you end up somewhere you didn’t think you would."

The attendees also sat through a professional development segment and networking reception sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car explaining how students should "never stop learning, even after your schooling is over."

Even though the seminar ended at around 6, the night was not over for the attendees. The young women were treated to the Portland Trail Blazers-Washington Wizards NBA game at the Moda Center, located across the street from Memorial Coliseum, after the conclusion of the conference.

“The connections these women made with our 23 panelists are invaluable to them,” Tetteh said. “Hearing career advice and personal experiences from their predecessors will hopefully encourage and steer these young adults to the career path they want to be in.”

Seminar Panelists Profiles:




Whitney Wagoner

University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Program Manager/Senior Instructor

Carrie Kosderka-Farrell

Concordia University-Portland

Head Softball Coach/Asst. AD 

Lauren Esbensen

Pacific University (Ore.)

Associate Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator

Lauren Anderson


Digital Brand Director (Foot Locker, Inc.)

Kari Gage

Central Washington University

Head Athletic Trainer/Senior Woman Administrator

Krista Montague 

Montana State University Billings 

Director of Athletics 

Karen Peters

University of Portland

Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator

Staci Heath

David Douglas High School

Head Softball Coach

Shawana Lee

Portland Trail Blazers

Corporate Sales Manager

Diana Marsden 

Aries Apparel 

Owner, President, General Manager 

Christa Thoeresz

Portland Trail Blazers

Senior Director, Social Responsibility

Jamie Goldberg

The Oregonian

Sports reporter

Katherine Brackmann 

Linfield College 

Asst. Director of External Relations/Senior Woman Administrator 

Kara Peterson

Saint Martin's University

Head Volleyball Coach

Maylon Hanold

Seattle University

Instructor, Sport Administration and Leadership

Katie Simons

Portland Timbers/Portland Thorns

Media Relations Coordinator

Anna Geiger 

Red Bull 

Field Marketing Manager 

Trina Comerford 

GNAC and other college conferences 

NCAA Softball Umpire 

Randi Lydum

Western Oregon University

Director of Compliance/Senior Woman Administrator

Sharleen Graf

International Basketball Leagues


Valerie Cleary

Portland State University

Interim Director of Athletics

Erica Quam

The Coaching Experience

President and Founder

Lezley Smith

GNAC and other college conferences

NCAA Basketball Referee

Bridget Tetteh


Assistant Commissioner