Vaccaro dives into the world of sports media | Nebraska today

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of the few universities in the country with a major in Sports Media and Communications. Regan Vaccaro — a dual sports communications and advertising/public relations major from Overland Park, Kansas — took advantage of everything it had to offer. We spoke to her about getting hands-on experience, what motivates her, and the people of Nebraska who have supported her.

How would you explain the Sports Media major to someone outside of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications (CoJMC) community?

The sports media major is really just a culmination of journalism, advertising, public relations and communications all wrapped up in a sports focus. It equips you with skills to do so many things in the sports world. From broadcast to digital media, fan development and marketing to sports information and statistics; The world is really open and everything is possible.

Talk about why you decided to apply to Nebraska and get into sports media and advertising.

I always had a connection to Nebraska from a young age, but what really impressed me was studying sports media. It’s such a unique experience because most schools have very specific sports management degrees or no sports focus at all. UNL offers students the opportunity to work from day one as soon as they step onto campus. When I was a junior in high school, my broadcasting class was invited to attend CoJMC and I immediately fell in love with the facilities, staff and opportunities the school offered.

Working with Sporting gave you many opportunities to gain hands-on experience KC to the huskers. Why was it so important to take advantage of these opportunities and what was your biggest learning?

When giving advice to younger students, I always tell them that it’s the things you do outside of the classroom that will really make you excel in the sports world. I have grown so much as a student, career and person through my internships at Husker Athletics and Sporting Kansas City. Through these opportunities, I have not only gained important skills and a portfolio that will help me in the future, but I have also developed important connections that will benefit me in my future career. My internships were a great transition between college and the “real world” after college. I’ve learned how to work in a professional environment, manage my time and I’ve also gained irreplaceable confidence.

What do you enjoy most about being a sports media major?

Aside from being able to say, “I’m a sports media major” (I mean, that’s so cool, right!), my favorite part about being a sports media major is how passionate everyone on the program is about it . I’ve met some of my best friends through the program and take classes with them every semester. Together we spend our free time doing sports, watching sports together, talking about sports and dreaming about the future. The passion that sports media majors have for their careers is truly special, and it’s such an uplifting community to be a part of.

How will your involvement in sports media programming help you in the future?

I wanted to work in sports from a very early age. I mean, when I was in 5th grade, I was the only girl in my class who dressed up as a Nebraska football player for Halloween. This program has given me the space and opportunity to make my dreams a reality. I’ve met so many amazing teachers and staff who have helped me get out of my comfort zone and try new things I never dreamed of doing before. I have gained so many skills and connections through the program that I consider to be lifelong. The hands-on experience is so valuable and I really don’t know where I would be without it.

What motivates you?

If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be: Futuristic. I always dream about the future, the experiences and places I will visit. I get so much joy from thinking about the world of opportunities that I have in the sports world because it all seems so exciting to me. Especially as a woman in sports, I’m motivated to push myself to be the best, to prove to my younger self and younger girls everywhere that they can thrive in a male-dominated industry. I’ve always looked up to older women in sport and I hope that one day I can be that role model for someone.

For me in particular, I look up to Kathy Nelson, President of the Kansas City Sports Commission. I had the opportunity to interview her at one of my classes and have looked up to her ever since. She “does everything” in my opinion. Reconciling a family, being successful in sports, and most importantly, giving back to your city and community. She is not only President of the Sports Commission, but also works with it TO WIN to the KC This is a non-profit organization that encourages young girls across the city to take part in sports. For me this is so inspiring.

Who influenced your time in Nebraska?

My professor, Matt Waite, is one person who really impacted my time in Nebraska. I always had a love for sports media before taking his Sports Data and Analytics course, but that course and his passion gave me a new love for the industry. This course was probably the toughest course I had taken up to this point in my college career, but I gained so much knowledge and wisdom through adversity. Matt was – and still is – a constant encourager and makes sure his students know they can do difficult things and prevail when the end is nowhere in sight. He is always there to give students advice, help with difficulties and see the big picture.

What advice would you give to a prospective CoJMC student?

One piece of advice I would give to a prospective CoJMC student is to apply early and get involved. I know that probably sounds like a record, but in this industry it’s really the things outside of the classroom that get you a job. I’m not saying to slack off in class, but as you plan your time, be sure to balance your priorities. College is a lot more fun when spent with friends who attend fun clubs and have great internships anyway!

What did you learn that you will remember after you graduate?

Something I learned that will stay with me after graduation isn’t necessarily something I learned, but more of a mindset. Being a very forward-thinking, goal-oriented person, I find it difficult to live in the moment. I have learned that life is a special time to grow, try new things, fail, succeed, laugh, cry and everything in between. When I graduate, I hope to continue to find the little things in each day that make it special and live life with a positive attitude.

What are your hopes after you graduate?

After I graduate, I hope to work somewhere in sports (surprise). At the moment I am considering grad school to further my studies in sports management/administration while also applying for a variety of jobs. I have a passion for stories and people. For me, sports media is the industry that brings joy and memories EVERYONE Persons. I would love to end up somewhere where I can combine my passion for human connections with digital and creative media in sports while exploring brand and business strategies.


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