Two students Intern for NCAA Women's Sweet 16 and Elite 8 tournaments

April 4, 2012

By Ivy Hillman '12

When Dr. Paul Gullifor, Chair of the Department of Communication, sent out an email to communication students about an internship opportunity at the women's NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite 8 tournaments, Katherine Casey and Julie Piatek, both members of the Bradley Women's Basketball team, immediately knew that they wanted the experience. Casey and Piatek are juniors sports communication majors and could not imagine having a better opportunity to get them prepared for the real world.

"Not only did it assure me that I am on the path that I want to be on, but I had a great time while doing it," Casey said.

Both interns had a variety of responsibilities over the weekend of March 23 during the NCAA women's basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.  They escorted teams and coaches to and from the locker rooms and media rooms, held microphones for the media, answered questions about the press conferences, and moderated the press conferences.

"It was awesome to see all the work that goes into these games," Piatek said.

Casey and Piatek agree that this was the best experience that they could have asked for.

"It gave me great insight to the ins and outs of running a tournament like this. You don't really know what happens behind the scenes until you are really thrown into it, and that's what happened for us over the weekend," Casey said.

"I learned so much, and I am never going to forget it," Piatek said.

It was an especially rewarding experience for Piatek - a life long basketball fan.

"I love basketball and have always followed women's basketball. I think March Madness for the men and women is one of the most exciting parts of the sports year, and I knew I wanted to get involved in it," Piatek said.

She now has a greater understanding of why Slane College gives its students so many great opportunities.

"I just want to take full advantage of all the opportunities that the Department of Communication offers to us. This was an amazing weekend," Piatek said.

One Shining Moment

BU sports communication majors intern at NCAA women's regionals.

By Nancy Ridgeway

Sports communication majors Julie Piatek, a junior from Willowbrook, and Katie Casey, a junior from Shorewood, enjoyed a "slam dunk" weekend when they interned March 22-27 at the NCAA women's basketball tournament regionals at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

The pair, both avid women's basketball fans, were thrilled to meet University of Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt, who they called "the face of women's basketball," and representatives from ESPN and other national, regional and local media outlets. Their responsibilities involved working the microphones at press conferences, escorting participating teams at the venue and helping with other public relations duties.

Piatek and Casey jumped at the chance to intern at the regionals when the opportunity was announced in class a few weeks ago. The call for volunteers originated with Colin McDonough, assistant director for athletic communications at the University of Northern Iowa, a fellow Missouri Valley Conference member and  host of the event. Four Bradley freshmen also volunteered at the regionals: Lauren Watts of Watseka, Kelly O'Brien of Rolling Meadows, Dee Moore of Ottawa and Charlene Manio of Lansing.

Piatek, who hopes to work in marketing for a professional sports team after graduation, said the experience confirmed that she is in the right field. Casey, a marketing intern for Bradley's Athletics, agreed.

Discussing their work at press conferences after each game, Casey said, "It was interesting seeing the moderator work. He would say which reporters could ask questions, and we took the microphones to them. He knew the media, and it was interesting to see who he would allow to ask a question. Some reporters were more aggressive, and he knew when to go to them and when not to."

Casey was pleasantly surprised at the interaction among the media, coaches and players. "Of course, the losing teams were upset. The media were respectful of that and would tell the players they'd had a good game. I had the impression the media were more ruthless, but they were not."

Since the pair helped with press conferences after games, they could watch the games and even had floor seats for the tournament. Teams playing in the Des Moines regionals included Baylor, Georgia Tech, Kansas and Tennessee, with Baylor and Tennessee playing on Monday for the chance to advance to the Final Four. Baylor won that game.

Casey said, "Baylor is undefeated this season, so it was fun to watch. Brittney Griner is considered by some to be the best college basketball player among both men and women. It's rare to see a woman player dunk the ball, and we saw her do it. It was the seventh time in her career, and it was cool to see her play in person."

The volunteers enjoyed the tournament atmosphere. Piatek said players and coaches seemed laid back when they arrived on Friday. "On game day, the players were more serious and the coaches were more to themselves. And on Monday, there definitely was more tension."