Written by: Theresa Knutson
My name is Theresa Knutson and I am currently a senior at the University of Connecticut. This summer I was an intern at the WIAA, the association for high school athletics in Wisconsin. I worked at the organization’s headquarters in Stevens Point Wisconsin. My father is on the board of control for Wisconsin athletics and has a meeting once a month at the headquarters. Because of the connections he established with many of the employees, I was able to meet them and after applying was asked asked to help work this summer.
This summer started off very busy because the state track tournament was held two weeks after I started my internship. It was an amazing experience to help get everything ready for the tournament, including getting every team’s packet filled and typing the information that they would need regarding the meet. I also had to email the participating schools to get the pole vault sheets to make sure that everyone followed the rules. I was also able to sit in on the track seeding for the state tournament and was in charge of organizing any extra qualifiers. Each of the three divisions participating in the tournament only had three extra qualifiers. Because the tournament is run mostly by volunteers, there is a volunteer breakfast held in the morning that I helped out at and then headed over to the track to get ready. On Friday of that weekend, I was responsible for handing out medals. It was awesome to do put medals around these athletes and see how grateful they were after receiving one. On Saturday, I measured the triple jump. This was very cool to do because they had an electronic measuring kit, which made it easy to work with.
The state softball tournament was the next big event for the summer, which was very interesting to see how it was run and how different the process was from the track meet. During playoffs, The WIAA is responsible for scheduling the umpires, an extremely difficult process because you have to ensure that the umpires have no conflicts with the team, that they are not traveling too far to umpire a game and that they do not umpire the same team during the playoffs. It was nice to help with this because it took a lot of organization and planning and I felt very valued because I had my own division to work on and I accomplished it.
Steph Hauser, my supervisor who is in charge of softball, said that the umpire hiring process went more smoothly this year than in the past. At the tournament, I was in charge of making sure that the time between innings ran smoothly because they had only allotted about a minute of time between innings. I also spent a lot of time working directly with umpires and getting them water or towels throughout the game. I gained a lot of connections through this, which will definitely help me if I want to further my career in high school athletics.
Though these tournaments were the big projects that I worked on this summer, I also helped with in creating a new football project. I was responsible for emailing every school to get updated photos of their football facilities so that we could figure out which schools stadiums to use during playoffs. I also spent time working on the cross-country archives booklet, the state baseball tournament and was lucky enough to go to the National Federation of high school sports annual conference. I also worked at a weeklong USA hockey camp for the Midwest with high school aged players.
I was able to take away and learn a lot from this internship. I saw how much goes into high school athletics from a school, state and countrywide aspect and it was fascinating because I was able to see how much the organization is dedicated to the kids and not to making money. I learned that while working in athletics, every person is valued and encouraged to share his or her own opinions. I was able to gain confidence during my internship because I was given responsibility. I can now see myself working in high school athletics after having this summer internship because I felt excited to go to work every day. I can see myself pursuing a career as an executive director or working for the NFHS itself, but I am fully aware that I will have to work from the bottom and make strong connections in order to get to that position.