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On The Sidelines

January 4
by
Ashleigh Shay
in
Sports
with
.

Flashback to September 2013, my first semester at UGA. It was Saturday and we were playing South Carolina. It was my first home football game. My first football game really.


The energy was unlike anything I could have ever imagined. Being overwhelmed was an understatement. This was the first time in my entire life that I saw thousands of people come together for one reason: to cheer on the Dawgs.

As amazing as the game and the victory was, that was not the only thing on my mind. When we weren’t running plays or defending our end zone my focus were on the people behind the white line.

Somehow, someway, they had made there way between the hallowed hedges and on to the field.

All I could think was “How do I get there?”

During that game I promised myself I would make it back on that field again before graduation.

Luck seemed to be in my favor that year. With nothing to do one Thursday afternoon in November I found my way to the AdPR Convention and Career fair. I sat in on a few seminars and flipped through the program until one thing caught my eye: UGA Athletic Association.

After the last seminar I headed to the assigned table where the rep was supposed to be standing. Much to my dismay I found the table empty. I contemplated leaving, because I was very under-dressed and one of the youngest in the room. All I can say is, thank goodness my mom told me to stay.

I was first in line and I was fortunate enough to meet Mike Mobley. One of the Associate Sports Communications Directors at the University of Georgia. After a brief conversation, he told me to come and find him after one of the basketball games that week.

I met up with him later that week and he gave me a press pass to go behind the scenes of Stegeman Coliseum. I was in awe of everything. I must have done something or shown him how determined I was to be a part of that industry because he asked if I would like to volunteer. From that week on I was at almost every single home Women’s basketball game for the 2013-2014 season.

At the games I filled in for the full-time student assistants who worked in the Sports Communication office. I kept back up stats and minutes and helped with the take down after the games. All in all it was a four hour endeavor but I loved every minute of it.

Once basketball season ended I helped out with a couple more events. It was in April when I achieved that goal I set for myself months before. Mike asked me to shadow him at G-Day 2014. I made it on the field again before I graduated. I made it on the field again before the end of my freshman year. I was ecstatic.

From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be part of the excitement of college sports for the rest of my life. I was hooked.

A couple weeks later, I met Mike for lunch and he asked about setting an interview up with his boss. I could barely get my schedule out fast enough.  My last day in Athens in May 2014 I interviewed with Claude Felton, Senior Associate Athletic Director for the University of Georgia. After twenty minutes or so he said, “Send me your fall schedule and I’ll see you when you get back for football season.”

I couldn’t believe what I heard. I was going to work for the UGA Athletic Association. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Once I returned to Athens in the Fall I was thrown into it all. Working in the office everyday, women’s soccer during the week and sometimes on the weekends, eight-hour football Saturdays, and basketball pre-season toward the end. It was a whirlwind. One I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Not to mention, I was on the field for every home game during the 2014 season. I was finally one of those people on the sidelines I had watched from the student section the year before. I had achieved my goal and so much more.

As I finish up my first full school year working for the Sports Communication Department, I am now unable to comprehend my life without it.

The friends I’ve made, the games, and the experiences I’ve had. All of the long days, late nights, and early mornings have been worth it. I truly believe I have started myself on a path that will guide me for the rest of my life.


College is the time for you to try new things and reach for your dreams. I am a living, breathing example of that. A split thought during a football game led me to so much more than I could have ever imagined. So shoot for the impossible, you never know what luck will be tossed your way.

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