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Emily Jennings: Northern Michigan University’s Queen of Event Operations

The year is 1974 and Phyllis George has started working for the CBS network. George was the first female sportscaster in the United States. One year later, she joined The NFL Today and notoriously has become one of the pioneers for women in sports media. Now, 60 years later, women across the globe are taking the sports world by storm. Whether you are on the field/court playing the game, or you are behind the scenes helping with jobs, such as: writing, event operations, statistics, athletic training, or finances- thank you. Thank you for pursuing your dreams and inspiring others to follow their own.

One incredible woman who has already made an impact on sports media is Emily Jennings. Jennings works for Northern Michigan University as the Event Promotions Manager. After applying to work as an Athletic Communications Intern her first semester, she was able to try out different roles, such as writing and statistics, before finding her passion. Her first hockey game, which was also the first of the season, gave her the opportunity to see what event promotions was like. Since that day, Jennings has remained in the department, and in August 2022, she took on the manager title.

Although she adores working the hockey season, Emily mentioned how she is a bit biased in regards to working for the volleyball team, “I love volleyball, it's so much fun. And I love the athletes on the team. Volleyball is just kind of like a breath of fresh air because it's in the middle of football and soccer season. And as much as I love hockey and I want to work in hockey forever, volleyball will always be my favorite college sport, I think.” The limited amount of event promotions for the sport has given her the chance to add capturing media content and helping with game-day setup to her resume.

As a full-time student, Jennings is also under the weight of keeping up with assignments while maintaining her position in the athletic department. “It is very hard, but my superior — she wants me to put my education before my job, and working for a college, they know I'm a student and they want that to be first because if I'm failing classes, I can't work. But I definitely have people who make sure I stay on top of things, who help me make sure I stay on top of things.”

When it comes to achieving success, there is always a motivator behind it. For Jennings, it’s that she has been told she is incapable of doing the things she wants to do, especially when it comes to sports. Plenty of her peers have mentioned how hard it is for women to work in the sports world and how it’ll be her downfall. Instead, Jennings has used this to her advantage. Those phrases that ultimately have put her down in a way, have also given her the leverage to prove those people wrong.

After being asked what Jennings thinks the phrase “women in sports” means, she mentioned how in an interview with a public relations employee for the Columbus Blue Jackets she learned one of the best phrases and pieces of advice all in one. “Passionate, I feel like it's something that you have to be passionate about to be able to do it. Your love to work in sports has to be bigger than your love for the sport.” Jennings mentions that her favorite part about working in sports is engaging with the fans. She’s consistently interacting with the people in the stands and making sure that they are having a great time. If they are not, she attempts to make it better.

One instance is from a few weeks ago when a wheelchair-accessible veteran attended a hockey game. This woman was bothered by the many kids that were constantly running around and getting in her way. After Jennings asked the kids to leave, she brought out a t-shirt and foam finger in hopes that would make up for the trouble that had been caused. It did much more than that. The veteran was so excited and beaming from ear to ear. By the end of the game, Jennings had a call from a friend about how the veteran wanted to meet with her before she left. The woman thanked Jennings for her kindness and gave her a big hug. This is one of the many magical moments that the event promotions manager loves about the job.

Without Phyllis George’s drive and change for women, Emily Jennings may have never become such an influential person, especially to me. When I started working as an Athletic Communications Intern here at NMU, I would have never thought that I would meet someone as inspirational as Jennings. I’m forever grateful that I have the opportunity to work alongside her and aspire to become a strong woman in sports media.

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