Experts Offer Advice to NGU Students During Women in Sports Panel
Posted on: October 30, 2023
“Be able to evolve and adapt.”
That was Suzanne Lowry’s message for more than 100 NGU students studying Sport Management during a special “Women in Sports” panel on Oct. 23.
Lowry is one of the top female volleyball officials in the world. She has officiated on six continents and in 18 countries. She has officiated in the FIVB World Championships and is also the Head Referee for the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) beach volleyball tour. A native of Due West, SC, Lowry played volleyball at the College of Charleston and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
“If you’re involved with a sport, the rules are going to change each year,” Lowry told the students. “If you’re doing graphic design, the software programs you know inside and out right now are not going to be the same programs you’re using in 10 years. As the job changes, as the sport changes, and as your role within an organization changes, you have to be able to change with it.”
Lowry was joined on the panel by Teri Johnson, Director of Branding and Fan Experience, Greenville Swamp Rabbits; Nikki Malpass, Director of Event Production at Bon Secours Wellness Arena; and Ashley Schmidt, Assistant Director of Sport Programs at Clemson University Campus Recreation.
“You can always do something better,” Malpass said. “You have to be able to look at your work and assess how you can provide better service.”
“There are not a lot of women in live entertainment production,” she continued. “When I started, I didn’t have a woman to look up to as a mentor. You have to have thick skin. You can’t take anything personally. You have to learn to lead with grace—dig your heels in and let them know you know as much or more than they do.”
Johnson, who described her job as the “Director of Fun” for the Swamp Rabbits, said she had barely gotten her career off the ground when she found a sport she loved.
“My first day on the job was a game day,” she said. “They threw me to the wolves and it was crazy, but right after it was over, I called my mom and told her I wanted to work in hockey for the rest of my life. It’s been a process of taking on new responsibilities and building trust with my mentors.”
Schmidt told students to have confidence in their abilities and to not be afraid to try new things.
“Have confidence in your knowledge,” she said. “You might not have experience in what you’re going to be doing, but you can have confidence in your ability to learn and work hard. That will take you very far.”
Prior to the panel discussion, Lowry gave a presentation on her career highlights, detailing her experience as a referee at two NCAA women’s volleyball matches held outdoors on Wednesday, August 30 at the University of Nebraska’s football stadium. The matches attracted a women’s world record crowd of 92,003 attendees.
Lowry, who recently returned from the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World Beach Championships in Tlaxcala, Mexico, encouraged students to pursue their dreams in sports.
“This is a fantastic time to get involved with sports and sports administration,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of growth across the board, and especially in women’s sports, so there are opportunities there.”