Alumni find careers in major sports leagues

Photo Courtesy of Kailey Lane | Kailey Lane has had many opportunities in the sports industry including a full-time job with the Cleveland Monsters pictured here.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

As the demand for occupations in sports increases, finding a job in the industry becomes more and more challenging, especially for women wanting to make their way into the field.

Although the number has increased for women working in the industry, men still hold more positions in the sports world.

Duquesne Sports Information and Media alumni Kailey Lane and Grace Heidinger have seen this even in their May 2022 graduating class, where they were the only two females graduating with their sports-concentrated major.

Neither of them let those statistics get to their heads, though, and have had many different internships and job opportunities in the sports industry already, just two years after graduation.

Lane had two goals in life. First, to be a Division-I athlete and, second, to work for NESN. She was able to achieve both her goals and more while studying at Duquesne.

Lane currently works for the Cleveland Monsters as a Digital Content Coordinator running their social media accounts. Although this job is coming to an end, Lane will soon start at Wellness Pet Company, running their corporate social media accounts including TikTok, where they have over 385,000 followers.

“I’m translating all my skills in sports to a more corporate field where I can take a step back, but at the same time, use my skills and my intensity working from sports and channeling it more to a corporate global company,” Lane said. “I’m excited to see how I can evolve from essentially my sports voice on social media to more of an approachable pet owner-type voice.”

Previously, Lane has worked for NESN as a broadcast associate for the Red Sox, at Duquesne University as an athletics media intern and as a student production assistant/broadcaster. She then worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins as a broadcast associate at Penguins Radio and an auction coordinator for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. After graduating in 2022, she interned with the Nashua Silver Knights as an on-field correspondent for four months.

She was also the co-founder of a podcast highlighting weekly news for the NHL titled “The Extra Point” and a staff writer for The Duke. She’s been able to broadcast, write, create and share her content on multiple large-scale social media pages.

Her favorite experience so far has been working for the Penguins organization. “They let me spread my wings,” she said.

“It was really cool making those connections,” Lane said. “It was a lot of filling in, which ended up helping me grow so much and helped me feel the most rounded I could going into full-time work.”

Heidinger also worked as a staff writer intern for the Pittsburgh Penguins while at Duquesne. Some of her other sports jobs include a position with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds as a sports information/public relations intern, a social media ambassador position with the Atlantic 10 Conference and an athletics production assistant job for Duquesne. She also worked for her favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, as a media and content intern through last May.

She now works for the Pittsburgh Pirates as a social media fellow and said that experience matters in the sports industry.

“One thing about the industry is that experience is everything,” Heidinger said. “Whether it’s minor league, working at a college level, all the way up to the majors, experience gets you far.”

Heidinger’s favorite position was interning for her favorite team, the Bills. She worked during the season when Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a Monday night football game. She said this was a crazy experience.

“It was so eye-opening and a learning experience, not just for who is new to the field, but people who have been there for a while,” Heidinger said. “I never thought I would be writing and covering such a heavy topic a year out of college.”

Though the incident was scary, Heidinger said she learned a lot from the team.

“On the content side of things, they allowed me to pitch different story headlines and ideas and kind of let me run with it which was really nice,” Heidinger said.

Just as she appreciated her own experiences collaborating with other sports media professionals, Heidinger said that those looking to make a career in sports should make sure to network.

“Networking in this industry is huge, I got my current position because of the people I met and worked with at the Penguins,” Heidinger said. “Saying yes to anything and everything that comes your way leads to networking as well.”

Lane said to join and be a part of whatever possible during college years and to always try more things.

“Just get involved anywhere you can,” Lane said. “My biggest thing that I would tell people when they were hiring me was to make me uncomfortable. If you don’t ask me to be uncomfortable, and if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone, you’re not going to learn.”