Six Degrees of MIAC Intern Separation

For those of you who didn't see the link on our site or on social media, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder did a great feature on Augsburg's Jennifer Jacobs, who is working as the school's assistant compliance director and an assistant volleyball coach. Part of the article focuses on her opportunity at Augsburg, which was made possible through a fully funded two-year NCAA Grant - the NCAA Division III Women's and Ethnic Minority Internship Grant.

This grant is clearly a huge benefit for any conference or institution that is lucky enough to receive it, and the selected recipients for each position get a great experience along with something that is becoming more and more of a rarity - a paid internship. My first internship out of college was writing feature stories for an online basketball magazine that focused mostly on Division I college recruiting, and though I'm not a numbers person, I can easily recall how much bank I made doing that ... $0.00.

However, this grant seems to have an especially unique and cool connection throughout the MIAC, and I feel like our office and our schools who have utilized it can serve as a perfect example for how the grant is supposed to play out. During the life of the grant, women and ethnic minorities receive great, high-level experience in college athletics administration that really helps their employer while preparing them for a career. This grant has been prevalent in the league over the past decade, with some interesting connections, so let's play the a version of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with the MIAC Women's and Ethnic Minority Internship Grant.

Jacobs' supervisor at Augsburg is Assistant Athletic Director Kelly Anderson Diercks. After graduating from Gustavus, Anderson Diercks was the MIAC's first recipient of the grant, and worked under MIAC Executive Director Dan McKane for two years. Also, Anderson Diercks currently serves as the "mentor" (a stipulation of the grant) for the MIAC's current two-year grant, so she mentored former MIAC Assistant Director NatalieArians, and now mentors current Assistant Director Afton Goebel, who was hired in August to fill out the grant after Arians took a full-time Assistant Commissioner position with the neighboring Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC).

When Anderson Diercks was in her term at the MIAC, her mentor was Macalester Associate Director of Athletics Vanessa Seljeskog. The MIAC received the grant again after Anderson Diercks moved on to Augsburg, and hired Brittany (Feser) Heinz, who was also mentored by Seljeskog. Now, Heinz works with Seljeskog as Macalester's Leonard Center Manager.

In between Heinz and Arians, the MIAC was required to take one year off from applying the grant, so we hired Sara Eisenhauer for a one-year internship position in 2010-11. Following that season, Macalester was awarded the grant, and Seljeskog earned another MIAC connection when she hired Eisenhauer and served as her supervisor. This summer, Eisenhauer (a Saint Mary's grad) kept her MIAC ties alive when she was hired as the new Sports Information Director at St. Catherine, and now Madeline Greene is fulfilling the second year of Macalester's two-year opportunity.

That's a lot to digest, but a complicated way to say that this internship opportunity has manifested itself in the conference in a very positive way. Seljeskog has served as both a mentor and a supervisor, while Anderson Diercks has been in all three capacities (intern, mentor, supervisor). Former grant recipients Anderson Diercks, Heinz and Eisenhauer are now all employed within the MIAC, while Arians is just up the road in a similar position. Which all bodes well for current interns Goebel, Jacobs and Greene. It's not quite as easy to follow as Six Degrees of Bacon, but the way all these paths have intersected is much more than coincidental.

Several of these connections came full circle exactly a year ago at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, when Anderson Diercks, Arians, Eisenhauer, McKane, myself and former MIAC Executive Director Carlyle Carter all found ourselves at the same table for an NCAA Keynote Luncheon. For a small Division III conference, it was pretty amazing to have that many current and former MIAC employees all in one spot, and all enjoying fulfilling careers in college athletics.

MIAC staff past and present at the 2012 NCAA Convention.
(L to R: Matt Higgins, Sara Eisenhauer, Dan McKane, Natalie Arians, Carlyle Carter, Kelly Anderson Diercks)

Hopefully the resulting photo serves as a lasting image of the grant's effectiveness. The intent is to increase the gender and ethnic diversity throughout college athletic administration, and at least throughout the MIAC, the NCAA would take one look at all the past and present connections and say, "Mission Accomplished."

We leave tomorrow for the 2013 NCAA Convention in the Dallas area (Grapevine, Texas, to be exact) and there is plenty to look forward to. There are numerous educational sessions, social events, and opportunities to meet and connect with colleagues throughout the NCAA. However, the chance for MIAC staffers past and present should present itself again, and I think we're all looking forward to reconnecting and looking at where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed.

I'll be checking in from the convention on this blog, and also on Facebook and Twitter, so stay tuned for updates as we take the MIAC show on the road for the rest of the week! (And check out our new look on Twitter while you're there!) Stay warm, Minnesota.

Almost tennis time
The MIAC released the 2013 MIAC Men's and Women's Tennis Previews and Preseason Coaches Polls last week. The Gustavus men were picked as the unanimous favorites to win their 25th-straight conference title. Take a second and digest that. That's a quarter-century of being on top. Wow.
Interesting to see a name other than Gustavus on top of the women's poll, but Carleton is a deserving choice after winning both the MIAC regular season and Playoff championships a year ago. It will be fun to see how the Knights respond to being the favorite, and how the Gusties respond to being the hunter, rather than the hunted, after 20 years on top.
CLICK HERE for the men's preview. CLICK HERE for the women's preview.

In case you missed it...
MIAC Media enjoyed a great week with the first-ever Podcast and a new video  that accompanied Afton's fascinating Friday Feature about Concordia women's basketball star Tricia Sorensen and her no-longer hidden talent - juggling. On the podcast debut, Mike Gallagher conducted a great interview with St. Thomas Head Football Coach Glenn Caruso and looked at some interesting trends in the MIAC Men's Hockey standings, in addition to his update on the MIAC winter standings.

To check out the podcast, click here, and click here to see the Friday Feature and video.

Ask away
Do you have a question about the MIAC you'd like me to answer on the blog, or you'd like Mike to address on the Podcast? Do you have any feedback or ideas of things you'd like to see us write about or discuss? We'd love for this to become as interactive as possible, so please utilize the "comments" section on the blog or CLICK HERE to send me an email and let's make this more of a conversation. I'd rather talk with you than at you!


  1. Keeping up with all of those connections is crazy, but really really cool. The MIAC is pretty awesome and so is the NCAA Internship program. Way to go Matt!

  2. While she didn't have an MIAC office connection, former NCAA Internship Grant recipient, Megan (Wilson) Kirchoff, completed her internship at MIAC member institution Bethel University. She now remains in our conference, at a position created at Bethel, because we didn't want to let her go! It's a great internship program, and the MIAC has helped provide so many great experiences for both conference and institution interns.

  3. Thanks for the info, Gretchen! I was going to include Megan, but I figured that just with the MIAC connections it was already probably getting confusing. Glad the program also worked so well for Bethel and Megan!


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