BUSINESS

Column: I scored valuable experience working in media relations for an SEC tournament

A basketball hovers above a goal with a black background.

Lexi Pelton
Oxford Stories
aapelton@go.olemiss.edu

I’ve been to Nashville plenty of times, but never like this. At the beginning of March, I was given the opportunity to become a media relations assistant for the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

I went into the tournament thinking it was going to be easy, or exactly like working the women’s basketball games at Ole Miss.

Boy, was I wrong.

The energy I got from every game was like no other. No matter who was playing, I was always on the edge of my seat.

Jill Skotarczak and Students from all over the SEC in a group photo on the basketball court.
Jill Skotarczak and Students from all over the SEC.

I couldn’t thank my boss, Madeline Marshall, and the SEC more for the wonderful time I had at this tournament. The first day couldn’t have been more different than what I expected. I knew other people from other schools were going to be there, but for some reason, I thought they weren’t going to be social.

Again, so wrong.

I met some of my best friends on this trip. We traveled around the city the first day seeing more of Nashville than I had ever seen. We rented scooters to go to White Limozeen, Dolly Parton’s bar. It was so well decorated, and the drinks were amazing.

We went to Assembly Food Hall right on Broadway, and it was some of the best sushi I have ever eaten. Later, me and my new best friend from South Carolina decided to go to Jason Aldean’s bar to dance off some of the food we had just eaten.

All of the wonderful people I met at the SEC Tournament in a group photo on the basketball court.
All of the wonderful people I met at the SEC Tournament.

I’ve never been the type to just let loose and have a good time in public, but that night was different. The music was right, the company was right, and the dance floor was neon. I had the absolute best time of my life.

We didn’t want to be out late because we had the first day of the tournament the next day, so we turned in at about 10:30 p.m.

I knew my duties for the tournament were going to be about the same as I do at Ole Miss, so I wasn’t too worried about the labor. We run statistics, we attend press conferences, we get to ask questions to the players and coaches, and we keep track of any records that might be broken.

The first two days were the most brutal. It involved four games and four press conferences. Ole Miss didn’t play until the third day, so I patiently awaited my turn to root for my team.

These first two days of the tournament were long, but we made it go by fast with our excitement and jokes, all day long. The other assistants from the other schools were so fun, and we all became super close in those four days.

Marissa Avanzato, moderator of the tournament, and I standing on the basketball court.
Marissa Avanzato, moderator of the tournament, and I.

The press conferences were my favorite part of the whole experience. We were always welcome to ask any questions to the players or coaches, and I felt like I was a real reporter. Speaking to Dawn Staley, Kyra Elzy, and Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin from Ole Miss was the highlight of my experience.

Staley is the head coach for South Carolina, and they are the number one team in the nation. She is the first African American coach to win more than one national title in basketball.

Even though we lost to South Carolina, it was such an honor to watch an amazing and trailblazing team. Ole Miss also had an amazing season. This is the first time in 15 years we made the NCAA tournament, and it was such an honor to be a part of it.

We also got to experience a record-breaking SEC championship. We all thought South Carolina was a lock in the championship. With only about one minute left in the final game, Dre’una Edwards hit the game-winning three-point shot and took the one-point lead over South Carolina. It was the most electric basketball game I have ever been to. The crowd lit up.

Another vital part of this experience was making connections with the others who work for SEC schools and staff from the SEC in general. I never knew what Linkedin was before this trip. Over all, this was one of the most valuable experiences I was ever awarded. I met some of the best people and got a wonderful resume builder.

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