UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

November 10, 2023

IAL Internship Spotlight: Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson is an IAL M.Ed. graduate student interning with the University of Washington Athletics Department as a Stadium Operations and Event Management Graduate Assistant. Tony sat down with Jake Silver, from the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics, to answer a few questions about his experience so far in the IAL program.

This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Q: What led you to apply to the IAL program?

A: Originally, I wanted to become a college football coach or an NFL coach. I viewed the IAL program as an avenue to expand my teaching career and explore coaching opportunities. After conversations with the IAL faculty and a few alumni, I realized that interning in sports administration could enhance my career and still keep the door open down the road for coaching. They emphasized the importance of making sure that my values align with those I work with, and I have found that they really do, especially on the team I am currently a part of at UW Athletics.

Q: What are the main overall responsibilities of your internship with UW Athletics?

A: As a Stadium Operations and Event Management Graduate Assistant, I oversee day-to-day operations at Husky Stadium. This involves a variety of tasks, from security and building access to logistical work. Collaborating with each team’s directors of operations is crucial to make sure all fall and winter sports operate smoothly. I also serve as the point of contact for external organizations renting facility spaces, like I was for the Head of the Lake Regatta.

Q: What was your role at the Head of the Lake Regatta?

A: At the Head of the Lake Regatta, I was the UW Athletics Point of Contact. I oversaw all aspects of the event that took place at UW. The race spanned a three-mile course, starting in Lake Union, navigating through the Montlake Cut into Lake Washington, and finishing near the Conibear Shellhouse. My responsibilities included multiple meetings with the Washington Rowing Association, managing contracts and invoicing, coordinating parking and facility needs, ensuring building security, and working with the Director of Operations for UW Rowing and the Head Coach of UW Rowing. The most crucial components of my role were managing client expectations, preparing for the event from a facilities standpoint, and being the point of contact during potential emergencies.

Q: In what ways has your internship experience expanded upon what you’ve learned so far in the IAL program?

A: My internship has complemented the IAL program by providing inside access to college athletics and giving me opportunities to make numerous connections. Conversations with people like Dan Erickson, the Associate Athletic Director for Events & Facilities and an IAL alum who also came from a teaching background, showed me the real-world application of how I can bring the values I had as a teacher to a career in athletics.

Q: How do you balance your internship responsibilities and course load in the IAL graduate program?

A: Balancing my internship responsibilities with the demands of the IAL graduate program, first involves a daily commute of 2-3 hours, depending on traffic. During breaks in my internship, I find quiet spaces to work on IAL coursework. The IAL faculty’s understanding of the demands of intercollegiate athletics internships allows for flexibility with deadlines during busy weeks, making it manageable to handle both my coursework and my internship responsibilities.

Q: What has been your biggest highlight so far in the IAL program?

A: The biggest highlight for me has been the IAL network. The network helped me land my internship and has been instrumental in my professional growth. The alumni and faculty helped me identify key values that are important to me, be realistic about my goals, and establish relationships with experts willing to provide me with advice for my career. They continue to be a sounding board for questions I have about the next steps in my career.

Check out more photos of Tony and the 2023 Head of the Lake Regatta.