June 16, 2014
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mary Ashton Nall grew up around intercollegiate athletics, specifically college football. Her father, Hugh, played football at Georgia and coached at Ole Miss and Auburn. From competing in the NCAA Track and Field Championships, to working in the athletics media relations office, she knew she wanted to make an impact on student-athletes.
With her playing career over, Nall moves on to the next chapter of her life, as she begins a year-long championships internship with the NCAA's corporate sponsorships and broadcast alliances.
"I knew I wanted to stay in intercollegiate athletics," Nall said. "My dad was a football coach. My mom was always involved with sports too. I knew when I graduated from Ole Miss that I didn't want my athletic career to be over. It might be over as far as my participation, but I still wanted to be involved with college sports."
She credited her own student-athlete experience as inspiration to pursue a career in intercollegiate athletics. It also helped prepare her for life after her playing career in the areas of time management and community service through the Rebel Ready program.
"Growing up, I was always around college football and players, and always wanted the best for them," Nall said. "And then coming to Ole Miss, I have had such a strong support group with Ross (Bjork), to Joey (Jones), to Kim (Ling), to Jamil Northcutt, to the academic office, and my coaches pushing me to better. I knew that I wanted to be that for someone.
"I'm starting at the very broadest level of the NCAA, but my passion is the student-athletes, and I would really like to end up on campus one day. I'm really excited about this internship because it will allow me to make the impact on student-athletes that so many people have made on me."
Nall is in a class of 25 interns, including four specifically who will work with the championships. They come from Division I, Division II and Division III backgrounds. In addition to corporate sponsorships and broadcast alliances, Nall will also work a lot with community service. Among her first events is the College World Series in Omaha.
"There's an intern specifically for the men's basketball championship, an internship specifically for the women's basketball championship, there's one for six championships and there's another for 77 championships," Nall said. "I don't have a sport, so I go where they need me and where the biggest broadcast, media and sponsorship alliances are."
After her internship, Nall wants to continue her education and pursue a graduate degree, whether it's in sports administration or her MBA, in addition to a graduate assistantship, whether it's in an athletics administration office, marketing, media relations or coaching.
"I want to get back on campus and work with sports," Nall said. "It makes me happy, and it's my passion. So many people have had a big impact on me, and I would like to have that impact on somebody else."
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller