When Dave and Nancy Petrone approached the University of Oregon Athletic Department in 2013, they inquired how the UO was supporting its female student-athletes – then pushed them to innovate even further. That initial inquiry led to the Petrone’s donating $1 million to create Women In Flight (WIF), a program dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Oregon women’s athletics. Dave and Nancy’s influence didn’t stop there, as they continued supporting Women In Flight with another $1 million gift in honor of the Title IX Go Do Anything campaign. Their generosity also helped fund a lesser known, but equally valuable, project.
Each year, an MBA student in the UO Lundquist College of Business specializing in Sports Business through the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center has an opportunity to land a paid internship with Women In Flight. Through this internship, Women In Flight has established a working relationship with the Warsaw Center, an experience beneficial to both the student intern and WIF. Makenzie Fancher, Women In Flight’s current intern and MBA ’23 candidate, believes this opportunity has enhanced her time as a student at UO.
“The things I have been able to work on with Women In Flight, from facilitating content for the Title IX Go Do Anything campaign to building a brand and communications strategy, have been so rewarding,” Fancher said. “It’s been incredible to contribute to an organization whose mission I personally feel strongly about, in a capacity where I feel like my efforts are helping to make a difference.”
From bringing the Go Do Anything campaign to fruition, telling student-athlete stories, and revamping UO’s annual National Girls and Women In Sports Day celebration, WIF’s interns have helped propel the program forward into the nationally-leading organization it is today. Having a hand in marketing, event management, and relationship-building allows students to learn new skills and gain real-life experience. Former interns are applying lessons learned from their time with WIF to jobs within the sports industry.
WOMEN IN FLIGHT FORMER INTERNS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
WIF Intern 2020 – 2021
UO MBA ’21
Manager of Venues, Hospitality & Events for Genesco Sports Enterprises
Native to Statesboro, Georgia, Cameron was drawn to UO for the Sports Business MBA program after a few years working in the finance and risk management industry for an adult rec sports organization. Mary Edman, former WIF intern, drove her to apply for the internship, where she was able to craft a flexible work experience for herself while making a positive impact on student-athletes and the next generation. The opportunity to work closely with student-athletes fueled her passion for the advancement of women’s sports and the focus on the “student” part of their student-athlete journey. While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her experience, she still found a way to think outside the box. She led efforts to organize a virtual scavenger hunt for WIF’s annual National Girls and Women In Sports Day celebration. She also helped lay the foundation for the Title IX Go Do Anything campaign before graduating from the program in spring 2021. Now, Cam works in Seattle on the T-Mobile account for sports agency Genesco Sports Enterprises, managing the company’s sports an entertainment assets.
WIF Intern 2019 – 2020
UO MBA ’20
Partnership Marketing Manager, San Jose Sharks (NHL Team)
Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Mary chose University of Oregon for her MBA because of the ability to specialize in Sports Business. As a former student-athlete herself playing Division III tennis, she was drawn to the WIF internship because she related to the need for student-athletes to have resources dedicated to building relationships and creating memories for them. Mary helped reform Women In Flight’s celebration of National Girls and Women In Sports Day, a national holiday at the beginning of February each year dedicated to women participating in sport, to make the event more engaging for student-athletes and the community. The experience she gained with WIF and the networking with UO alumni led to a full-time job with Genesco Sports Enterprises after graduation. Driven by a craving to work directly in a sport again, she switched over to the San Jose Barracuda, a minor league NHL team, where she spent a couple years in sponsorship activation. Recently, Mary made the jump to the San Jose Sharks, a major league NHL team, as Partnership Marketing Manager.
WIF Intern 2018-2019
UO MBA ’19
Senior Life Design Educator for Student-Athletes at Johns Hopkins University
Originally from Bel Air, Maryland, Jess enrolled in the UO MBA program with a desire to work in college athletics after playing Division I basketball for West Virginia University. Knowing her experience as a student-athlete shaped her into the person she is today, she was drawn to the WIF internship for a chance to be part of an organization furthering opportunities for young women. Her time with WIF helped her understand the world of college athletics and the importance of philanthropy towards the student-athlete experience. She especially enjoyed data analysis projects identifying alumni WIF could contact. The drive to establish connections between a school’s past and present athletes is important in her job as Senior Life Design Educator at Johns Hopkins University. Jess guides student-athletes in their career path, helping them develop professionally and discover a path post-graduation. Through her efforts, she’s helped create an internship program for student-athletes. Having been in this field since early 2019, she finds that she absolutely loves having a role that helps set student-athletes up after college.
The connection between Women In Flight and Warsaw Center goes deeper. There are current and former undergraduate and graduate female student-athletes in the UO Lundquist College of Business that are pursuing a sports-focused degree through affiliation with the Warsaw Center. The ability to engage with leading professionals in the industry and take courses focused on sports business is a conduit for evolving passion as a player or fan to a professional career, especially for former student-athletes.
Madelyn LaFollette, former UO beach volleyball player, finished her last year of eligibility in spring 2022 and will graduate from the MBA program this fall with aspirations to work in the sports product industry. “As an athlete, I’ve seen how sports can be a catalyst for conversation, whether that be for motivation or inclusion in gender, ethnic, and race,” LaFollete said. “I’ve seen how sports have changed people’s lives, and I want to be a part of that story.”
Her former teammate, Savannah Siegrist, also believes that sports will forever impact her life and career. “The lessons we learn on the court, on the sand, or on the field directly translate into the business environment to be competitive professionals,” Siegrist said. “I know because of the experiences I’ve built over the past five years, I can go into any environment and be a valuable member of any team.”
This renowned confidence is also true for steeplechaser Malia Pivec, who transferred to UO to enroll in the MBA program and continue her track and field career. “Sports is a male-dominated industry, but I’m no stranger to voicing my opinion,” she reflected. “I hope to exuberate a level of confidence no matter who’s in the room.”
MBA STUDENT-ATHLETES SPECIALIZING IN SPORTS BUSINESS
UO Beach Volleyball 2020-2022
Accelerated MBA Candidate ’22
Savannah transferred from Jacksonville State after her junior year to join the UO beach volleyball team. Sav decided to add an MBA to her educational expertise to make the most of her extra years of eligibility gained from transferring and COVID-19. Her parents are avid skiers and taught her how to ski when she was just five years old, sparking a lifetime of enthusiasm for outdoor sports. Internships with Nike and the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 have given her valuable experience as she prepares to graduate in December 2022. Afterwards, Sav aims to work in the outdoor apparel or activity segment.
UO Cross Country, Track & Field
MBA Candidate ’23
After a successful career at Boise State, Malia transferred to UO to run for the Ducks while she pursued an MBA. As a self-defined “activity enthusiast”, she’s always up for competition, whether during her specialty, the steeplechase, or off the track playing ping pong, basketball, corn hole, and countless other games. Her dream is to work for Nike, a feat she accomplished this past summer as an intern for the North America Brand Marketing division focused on the Nike Running segment. With a full-time job offer for the company, she will continue that dream after she graduates in June 2023.
UO Beach Volleyball 2020-2022
Accelerated MBA Candidate ’22
Madelyn transferred to UO her junior year and became a pivotal member of the beach volleyball team. With extra years of eligibility due to COVID-19, Mads decided to continue her education as a graduate student while finishing out her athletic career. Growing up, healthy competition was an integral part of her childhood, driven by her dad and siblings. This past summer, she interned with Nike in their female athletes sports marketing division. With an MBA specialized in Sports Business, she hopes to work in sport product after graduating from the program in December 2022.
In the last few years, the bond between the Warsaw Center and Women In Flight has grown even tighter. Outside the day-to-day work of the WIF intern, the center has supported Women In Flight on numerous projects. When Mary Edmond (WIF intern in 2019) revitalized Women In Flight’s celebration for National Girls and Women In Sports Day, she enlisted the help of her Warsaw peers to bring the event to life. This past spring, Warsaw graduate students pitched ideas in a “Shark Tank” style brainstorming session to Rob Mullens and the WIF team on how to best use the exclusive Title IX Air Jordan 1 Mids to promote the Go Do Anything campaign.
“The Warsaw students have grown in this role as Women In Flight has grown,” said Craig Leon, Program Manager for the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “The athletic department has always given our interns the space to work on projects that are mutually beneficial. It’s a great illustration of how our two programs can help push the university forward and be best-in-class examples for other institutions across the U.S.”
Most importantly, student-athletes in the Warsaw Center have discovered a sense of family with their peers, a trait they’ve also experienced on teams throughout their athletic journey. When they aren’t in the classroom, Warsaw students can often be found at an Oregon women’s sporting event, supporting Malia during a race at Hayward Field and celebrating Savannah and Madelyn at their beach volleyball senior day ceremony last spring. “The love, support, and amazing talent in the Warsaw program have impacted my life,” stated Savannah. “They have become my best friends and family over the last couple of years. From challenging me in the classroom to supporting beach volleyball on our rainy senior day, the love and loyalty in Warsaw runs deep.”
After playing such a big role in Women In Flight’s growth, the former interns have a special feeling in their hearts as they’ve watched college athletics celebrate 50 years of Title IX. A common thread can be found amongst their perceptions, best summarized by the immortal words from Mean Girls – “the limit does not exist”.
“Go Do Anything means the sky is the limit,” Mary Edman stated. “There is no end to the opportunities that we can seek if you continue to push yourself.”
“We shouldn’t feel limited by age-old standards or expectations,” Cam Voiselle answered. “Something may be difficult or nerve-wracking, but if it’s important to you, it will not hold you back. Women are strong, capable human beings, and we’re here to shake things up!”
“To me, it means live with no limits. Don’t ever let people define how great you can be. And always be yourself!” Jess Harlee concluded.
As Women In Flight wraps up its Title IX campaign, those words from Cam, Mary, and Jess will guide us as we continue to influence women’s athletics at the University of Oregon. With meaningful partnerships like the one between Women In Flight and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, the UO will continue impacting the world of women’s sports in big, bold, and groundbreaking ways.