Wednesday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day and Clemson is proud to have alumni leading the way as professionals in athletics. From corporate offices to the sidelines, from the PGA to ESPN and beyond, Clemson women are making an impact in sports from coast to coast. Here are just a few of their stories:
Ali Kerns ’18 is a content producer for the PGA Tour. She travels to tournaments all over the world to produce short and long-form videos, working closely with PGA tour players. She gained experience and passion for storytelling through video working as a student videographer for Clemson Athletics. Highlights of her career so far include capturing Tiger Woods’ historic 82nd win at the ZOZO Championship in Japan in 2019, covering The Open Championship in Scotland in 2018, and being the International Team videographer for the 2022 Presidents Cup.
Her advice for young women aspiring to work in sports starts with doing everything they can to learn from others.
“Send a DM, LinkedIn message, or email to someone you’d like to learn from and ask them about their experience. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to share. Also, don’t be discouraged by a lack of knowledge or experience. I came into this role with very little golf knowledge, and it ended up setting me apart. Next, stay true to yourself and don’t change yourself to fit into any mold. You’re you for a reason, and you have something no one else does. Lastly, treat everyone you cross paths with kindness!”
Kelly Gramlich ’14, M ’18, is a sports broadcaster for ESPN. She played basketball for Clemson from 2011 – 2014 and still holds numerous three-point records. She now covers women’s basketball for ESPN and the ACC Network and co-hosts an ACC football podcast with fellow Clemson alum Eric Mac Lain. She says being a basketball player did a lot to prepare her for her career, but it was the people she met at Clemson who deserve the most credit for getting her to where she is today.
Her big “ah ha” moment came in 2021 when she called her first NCAA tournament virtually and then last year when she called it in person.
“You can’t beat the big dance!”
Madison Williams ’18 is a professional photographer and cinematographer and founder of Madison Williams Productions LLC, a media production company in Boston that’s trusted by some of the biggest names in sports to capture big moments on and off the field. She says her experiences as a student, intern, and employee at Clemson sparked relationships and opened doors that she couldn’t have imagined otherwise.
“I believe that the Clemson Family has one of the strongest professional networks in the country. I’m beyond thankful for the mentors and friends that Clemson has given me.”
Her advice to young women aspiring to work in sports is to never lose sight of why they do what they do.
“Be so passionate about your craft that it becomes contagious to those around you. Always continue to nurture your passion and refine your skillset. Find a female mentor that’s excited to answer your questions and give you honest feedback.”
Peyton Finley ’17 is a partnerships account executive for Vinik Sports Group, the parent company of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Her professional journey includes time with Clemson Football, the Atlanta Falcons, Walt Disney Studios, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, RISE Indoor Sports and now the Tampa Bay Lightning. She knows she wouldn’t be where she is today without her time at Clemson, particularly her time with Clemson Football as a student assistant, which provided opportunities for internships that helped launch her career.
She says the moment she knew she had made it as a sports professional came as she was working her first Super Bowl.
“That was a moment even I never thought would happen!”
She encourages young women aspiring to work in sports to find mentors who push and support them.
“Let the ceiling of all the women before you be your floor.”
Meaghan Frazier M ’21 is assistant director of content creation for the Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Department. She began her journey in sports in the athletic department of the University of Minnesota where she carried multiple student roles and assisted with all varsity sports on campus. After earning her undergraduate degree, she knew she wanted to continue her education and eventually her path led to Clemson, where she was a graduate assistant in the Athletic Communications department. Looking for her next step after two years in South Carolina, she found the perfect role with the Arkansas Razorbacks creating content full-time.
She says her time in that role prepared her for the career she has now in a multitude of ways.
“There was never a time where I wasn’t allowed to try new things or experiment with different forms of content, and there was never a shortage of events to cover!”
She says her “I’ve made it!” moments come when her work is picked up and used in national media or on TV broadcasts.
“It’s always such a surreal feeling for me.”
She has three pieces of advice for girls and women aspiring to work in sports:
“Never feel that anything is too big for you and always advocate for yourself within your work, find the people that will keep your name in the room even when you aren’t there, and remember there is no such thing as too much networking – if you find people you admire, ask them questions.”
Kimberly Runey ’19 is senior coordinator of corporate activation for the Philadelphia 76ers. She says she always knew she wanted to be in the sports industry because of the impact it had on her life growing up as an athlete and seeing the impact the industry has on the greater community. Just four years out from graduating from Clemson, she has worked in minor league baseball and hockey, the NFL, and now the NBA. She credits her time with IPTAY for exposing her to people in the industry who are part of the networks of many different sports leagues.
“Not only was I able to leave Clemson with a great education, I was also able to leave with an incredible network of people whom I still stay in contact with.”
She says she can’t pin down just one “Ah ha!” moment in her career thus far, but being on the sidelines at NFL games, courtside at NBA games, and making a championship run with an East Coast Hockey League team during a COVID year are three that stand out.
She wants girls and women hoping to work in sports to know they are meant to be at any table they have a seat at.
“It has been very empowering in my career, especially in my current role, to see so many women leading the way in C level roles for such a high-class organization. Give yourself grace, and always remember your worth.”
Jordan Salisbury ’17, M ’19 is the creative services project manager for the Boston Bruins hockey team and TD Garden where she produces content for digital, print, branding and large-format publications. Clemson was her first step into sports design because she was able to network, learn and apply her knowledge every day working with Clemson Athletics as well as the development and fundraising side of IPTAY.
Her “I’ve made it!” moment came preparing the Boston Bruins and TD Garden for the NHL playoffs, which included designing the playoff logo and applications with the logo including merchandise, rally towels, graphics, banners, elevator signage, door decals and more.
“It is a very surreal opportunity to be able to design an ‘experience’ for fans.”
Her advice for young women who dream of working in sports is to continuously learn and improve their skillset.
“Enjoy what you’re doing and what you’re designing because there is no better feeling than being in a state of flow while creating something you actually love and feel proud of.”
Hensley Hancuff ’21 is a professional soccer player for Gotham FC and Brisbane Roar FC in Australia. She says Clemson did wonders for her career, taking her in as a transfer, getting her fit on the field, and allowing her to personally grow off the field through mentorship and academic tools.
“Clemson has the best of the best facilities and staff you can find in the NCAA!”
She says she is still chasing her “I’ve made it!” moment, but the night she got drafted into the National World Soccer League was unforgettable.
“I am still chasing that moment . . . until I win an NWSL championship or make an Olympic roster.”
A cancer survivor, Hancuff wants girls and women who aspire to be professional athletes to accept that life isn’t easy.
“You will go through hard times, so put your head down and work even harder and you will be successful! Adversity is real and no matter what you’re going through, you can always rely on sports to be an escape from it all.”
Taryn Carroll ’18 is a social media producer for Bleacher Report, one of the largest online sports websites in the world. She produces content ranging from graphics to illustrations to short-form animations. Before being hired for her current position, Carroll worked for the New York Rangers on their social media team creating TikToks and doing social and brand strategy. She began her career at Clemson working in athletics for the Creative Solutions department doing graphics, photography, videography and social media management. She says her time at Clemson set her up for success because she was encouraged to start networking and meeting people in the fields she was interested in.
Out of the classroom, Carroll says she had an incredible experience interning with Clemson Athletics, where she had opportunities to cover every sport and learn photography, videography, graphic design, social media and more.
Her “Ah ha!” moment came after graduating. She stayed at Clemson as a post-grad intern and staff member for the Athletics Department, during which time the Clemson Tigers won the National Championship at Levi’s Stadium in California.
“After we were done shooting the trophy presentation and sending out the last few tweets from the stadium, we had a moment to go onto the field and run around. Standing at the 50-yard line with confetti all over the field and my friends and co-workers running around having the time of their lives . . . that’s really when it all hit me. I still have grass and confetti in a bag from that night.”
Carroll wants girls looking for a career in sports to know relationships matter.
“Find your group and lean on each other. There will be frustrating moments, but how you lift yourself and your friends up sets an important tone personally and professionally.”
Destiny Thomas ’20, M ’21 is an assistant coach for Anderson University Women’s Basketball. Thomas played four seasons at Clemson where she helped the Tigers make appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2018-2019 and WNIT in 2020-2021. After graduation Thomas served as the graduate assistant for the Tulane Women’s Basketball program during the 2021-2022 season. She says Clemson prepared her for her career in numerous ways.
“I was able to travel the world, meet new people, land an amazing internship and learn how ‘the real world’ operates. I was able to be more than an athlete, and Clemson provided me with opportunities to figure out what I wanted to do with my future.”
Her “I’ve made it!” moment came this past spring when she had three interviews within a week.
“It was a stressful and hectic time, but it made me realize that my dreams were unfolding right in front of my eyes.”
Her advice for girls and women aspiring to work in sports:
“If you can see it, you can be it! I have accomplished things that one could only dream of. Anything is possible as long as you are willing to put in the work. Be diligent and intentional.”
Lexie Vick ’17 is assistant director of Dabo’s All In Team Foundation. She is the first and only full-time employee of the foundation, having begun her career as the marketing and communications coordinator right after graduating before assuming her current role in 2021. She says she wouldn’t be where she is without the relationships she made along the way as a Clemson student.
“Special shout out to two of my sports marketing professors, Amanda Fine and Dr. Delancy Bennett for believing in me and advising me along the way. Their support even after graduation has meant so much!”
Vick’s “Ah-ha!” moment came in 2019 at the All In Ball fundraiser. Coming in from winning the National Championship earlier that year, they raised more than $1.4 million that night, a record.
“I will never forget that moment after Coach Swinney announced the total and realizing that all of the hard work from the last year had paid off. We won the Natty on the field and we won our fundraising “National Championship” that night. At that moment, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be and that I was a part of something so much bigger than myself.”
Her advice for girls and women aspiring to work in sports is, first, to know they have a voice in the industry and not be afraid to use it.
“Working in a male-dominated industry can certainly be intimidating at times and it may be hard to find your voice, but you’re in this profession for a reason and your thoughts, perspective, and insight add tremendous value. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Secondly, you’ve got to be willing to roll your sleeves up and work. Working in sports is not always glamorous. It takes a lot of hard work, long hours, and it definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you love it and are passionate about it, I promise you, it is all worth it.
Lastly, make all of the relationships and connections you can along the way and keep an open mind. If you’d told me at the start of college that I would be running a nonprofit in 10 years and that it was for one of the top coaches in college football, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Working in sports isn’t always as obvious as game day operations or sports marketing – there are so many different ways to get into the industry. Get your foot in the door where you can and just start grinding. The rest will take care of itself!”
Kristen Krebs ’16 is the senior manager for marketing operations and advertising for the Boston Celtics. Originally from Raleigh, NC, she worked in marketing at USA Baseball for two years after graduating from Clemson and before transitioning to the Celtics. Her job primarily focuses on revenue-generating marketing campaigns that directly target consumers and grow the fanbase.
As an out-of-state student, Krebs didn’t know anyone on campus as she entered her freshman year, but she says it was one of the best decisions she ever made because being at Clemson inspired her to try new things, meet new people, and challenge herself to push the boundaries of what she thought she could achieve.
Her “Ah ha!” moment came during her first year at USA Baseball when she had the responsibility of hosting a live broadcast event at ESPN’s studios in Los Angeles. “Stepping into the SportsCenter studio for the first time and seeing the broadcast come together was surreal and a moment I’ll never forget.”
She would tell young women looking for careers in sports not to give anyone a reason to doubt that they belong.
“Embody this by being hard-working, over-prepared, reliable, and detail- and solutions-oriented. Consistency in these areas will help build your credibility and reputation among peers and senior leaders. The results will speak for themselves, and attentive leaders will take notice. In summary, don’t tell people how skilled you are, show them.”
Caitlin Hartley M ’17 is a game-day producer and freelance event producer in San Diego who has worked in event production and sports game presentation for the last ten years. She is currently serving as the game day producer for the XFL. Her work spans a wide variety of experiences including college sports, nonprofit work, community special events and professional sports. Prior to freelance producing, she worked in the WNBA as the director of game presentation for the Dallas Wings and assisted in the launch of the 14th franchise for the National Lacrosse League, the Panther City Lacrosse Club.
She says Clemson was essential in preparing her for her career, especially during her time as a graduate assistant for the Athletic Department.
“Clemson sports and their fans are like no other, which only furthered my love and passion for working in sports. Getting my master’s at Clemson taught me about collaboration, attention to detail and the importance of hard work.”
She considers herself fortunate to have had multiple “I’ve made it!” moments throughout her career.
“I always think I’ve had that ‘ah-ha’ moment and then I get another one doing something new or at a new place. I had a moment like this when I was working the Clemson vs. Notre Dame game in the pouring rain when College GameDay came to town. I had a moment like this while working at Stanford as I produced a sold-out men’s basketball game. I also had one after producing my first WNBA game and launching a brand-new professional lacrosse team. I think that is the beauty of it: There’s always room for growth and more moments to be had. You can celebrate how far you’ve come and ‘making it,’ but also be excited for the next time that moment comes along.”
She would advise a young woman seeking a career in sports that experience is everything.
“Don’t be afraid to ask to help out at an event or even just shadow. That’s how I learned how things work and started making connections. Also, don’t be afraid to use your voice when needed. Being able to speak up and have confidence in high-pressure situations or important meetings goes a long way!”
Emma Devine ’19 is a social media and content manager for legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s company TB12. She says being Boston born and raised “means I have a knack for both sports and sarcasm.”
Devine says Clemson provided her with the tools and with the tools and insight she needed to be both a strong worker and a good team player, particularly her time as a UPIC intern where she “learned the power of being a good leader.”
She says she’s had a lot of memorable moments in her career, and some of the best have been the smaller moments with her coworkers.
“Those bigger ah-ha moments are great and can make the hard work seem worthwhile, but finding a career where you’re surrounded by smart, hardworking, and incredible people, is the ultimate ah-ha moment!”
Her advice to girls and women aspiring to work in sports is to not be afraid to push open doors.
“Reach out to people, ask questions, and be a strong teammate. You never know what connections you make early on can assist you down the line so always be willing to help out those around you.”
Kyndall Ellis-Powell ’18 is senior manager of strategic partnerships for Women Leaders in College Sports, the premier leadership organization that develops, connects and advances women working in college sports and beyond. Kyndall interned in recruiting and student-athlete development throughout her studies at Clemson and then as a graduate student at Syracuse University, which uncovered her passion for storytelling as a bridge between athletics, sports, and their communities. She says Clemson prepared her for a career in athletics by affording a variety of experiences that allowed her to “hone in on my zone of genius!”
When asked what her big “Ah ha!” career moment has been, she says: “I don’t feel like I’ve ‘made it.’ There’s so much work that needs to be done for women’s equity in sports and I won’t feel like I’ve ‘made it’ until significant change is made.”
Her advice for girls and women aspiring to work in sports?
“Be what you want to see! Show up, bring energy, and most importantly, put excellence in every aspect of your role.”
Emily Winter ’19 is a producer for NBC Sports Group, where she’s worked on properties such as Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) and the 2022 Beijing Paralympics. She says the experiences she received in post-production, editing and live TV production working for Clemson University’s Video Services, Clemson Athletic Video Services and the Career Center positioned her for success in her career.
“I would say a meaningful moment was at the Thursday Night Football kickoff game in Kansas City. It was the launch of TNF and our first regular season game on Prime Video. Once the fireworks went off and the National anthem was being sung, I got chills. Being part of something that has never been done before and being part of this incredible launch.”
Her advice for girls and women aspiring to work in sports is simple: “Be reliable, on time, and organized. Bring new ideas that have never been done before to the table and go after what you want.”
Carly Gough M ’21 is a lead producer for features and branded content for the Los Angeles Chargers. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, she attended the University of Oregon for her undergraduate studies. There she started to dive into sports video through entry-level internships and roles with the athletic department and broadcast networks like Pac-12 Networks, NBC Sports, and ESPN. Following her graduation in 2017 she worked for one year with the Indianapolis Colts before accepting a graduate assistant role in Clemson’s athletic department. After three years, a promotion to a full-time position, and earning a master’s degree in Athletic Leadership she went on to work for the Miami Dolphins for one year before accepting her current position with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I was blessed to work in the Clemson Athletics Creative Solutions department from 2018-2021 and earn my Master’s degree during my time there,” said Gough. “Clemson’s athletic department has always been full of fantastic people, and the people that were in my department helped mentor, support, and challenge me. I was able to push my own limits with a level of resources that’s hard to come by in the world of college sports. I learned from some of the best in the industry within a very collaborative environment, and the relationships built in that time are still going strong. Clemson gave me new skills and grew my confidence to keep pushing forward in my career.”
She considered herself very green when she arrived at Clemson and was nervous the first time she was asked to get a Vlog hit (short interview) from one of the football players.
“Fast forward to the end of that same season – we had just won the 2018 National Championship and I was sprinting into the celebration stage area with two Vlog rigs, handing them off to almost every player on the roster. I was no longer nervous and wasn’t thinking twice because of the relationships I had built to get to that point, and it was such a stark difference from the beginning of the year.”
Another memorable moment happened when she was working for the Miami Dolphins at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas. The team hired Mike McDaniel as the new head coach while she was there with a small team.
“I got a call from the head of communications asking if I could get on a flight that night to meet Coach and his family in California, and be the one person from the organization to join them as they traveled out to Miami to capture the content of their flight and Coach’s first moments as the new leader of the team,” recalls Gough. “It felt like the culmination of a lot of earned trust and solid relationships, which is what I am most proud of as I move throughout my career.”
Gough said she’d advise girls and women seeking careers in sports to be sponges and absorb all the information and experiences possible.
“Do not dim your own light, but maintain a sense of professionalism no matter the situation because no matter how we want it to be, there are still stereotypes about women in sports that don’t need any more fuel added,” she said. “That being said, it’s easy to feel intimidated by various aspects of working in sports, but it’s important to use what makes you different to help strengthen the industry. If everyone is coming from the same background, same experiences, same perspective, everything will remain the same. Speak up and ask questions because your perspective is important.”