Whatever You Are—Be a Good One

Being a female in the athletic industry isn’t easy. It’s a man’s world, and it has been that way forever. Some people think the only thing a girl is good for is standing in front of the camera or occasionally running a stat sheet.

I will never forget my freshman year, basketball season. I was standing in the post-game press-conference room, and a local reporter beckoned me over with the words, “Hey you, girl in the skirt, bring me that box score.” I didn’t think much about it until someone a row behind him said, “Dude, you know her name is McRae.” It was just a small thing, but even to our beat reporters, I was seen as a girl in an industry full of men before I was seen as a professional.

As my career matured, so did I. I accepted opportunities to intern with the Southeastern Conference at the 2017 and 2018 Men’s Basketball and Baseball Tournaments; I worked the 2018 SEC Championship Football game; I traveled to SEC Basketball Media Day in Birmingham, Alabama; and I also attended National Media Day at the ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. I came in contact with high-profile athletes on a weekly basis, and each time I talked to them, I hoped for one thing…

That they would believe they were more than just an athlete.

Since that press conference freshman year, I have made it my mission to show people that not only do I belong, but I can thrive, in the athletic industry. I am more than just a female, just as my athletes are more than the sport they play and the numbers they wear on their backs.

This summer, I had an absolutely incredible opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C., with the NFL Players Association. I attended a conference one night at the Under Armor World Headquarters. The topic of discussion for the panel I attended was “Females Using Your Seat at the Table.”

I took a lot away from that meeting: Don’t waste your platform. If you have an opinion, give it. If you don’t, listen and soak in the opinions of others but don’t waste your spot at the table.

People ask me all the time what my “dream job” is. I struggle with that question, because honestly, it is to become an athletic director at a Division 1, Power 5 university. That isn’t the dream of many other 21-year-old women. But it is mine. I struggled with the thought that, as a female, I would be very much out of place. I would serve as a boss for powerful people—more specifically, very powerful men. But I would also be put in a position to affect hundreds of student athletes.

I think the fear of not being good enough is common to anyone who thinks they can’t do something or that they are not qualified. I shared that fear with a mentor of mine this summer. His name is Nolan Harrison; he played 12 years in the NFL and is currently the Director of Former Players for the NFLPA. He told me that as long as you bet on yourself, you’ll always be right.

Believe in yourself. Know that you are more than the stereotype or label the world slaps on you. You are a human being with talents, skills, and a passion to accomplish something. Whatever that is, whatever world it is in, do it. Whatever you are, be a good one.

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About the Author | McRae Clay

McRae Clay is a senior at Mississippi State University majoring in sports studies with a concentration in business. She has a pre-law minor with the aspiration to go into sports law. She has worked in the MSU Comm. department for four years and works all sports but serves as the primary contact for men's golf and the secondary for women’s basketball. McRae spent her summer interning at the NFL Players Association in Washington, D.C.

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