U.S. Soccer

#SheBelieves - Kellie Elliot - San Antonio

#SheBelieves San Antonio: A conversation between USWNT forward Crystal Dunn and UTSA’s Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator Kellie Elliot.

Kellie Elliott, who has more than 20 years of experience in collegiate, professional and Olympic management positions, oversees student services, events, strength & conditioning and the sports of women's basketball, softball and volleyball.

Previously, Elliott was the Chief Operating Officer for the University of California's Alumni Association in 2013-14. During her time in Berkeley, she helped implement plans that led to increased revenue generation and sustainable growth.

Additionally, Elliot also worked at Yale University for two years, leading a department that offered a full range of program management services for internal and external clients. She worked at Florida State from 2008-10, where her administrative oversight included development, marketing, ticket operations, Seminole Productions, communication services, video operations, sports information, promotions and digital media. She also managed a $67 million contract with ISP (International Sports Properties) who serves as the sponsorship arm of Seminole Athletics.

Before her time in Tallahassee, Elliott was Deputy Director of Athletics for Internal Operations and SWA at San Jose State in 2005-08. She served as the chief operating officer responsible for all financial, administrative and operational elements of the Spartans' athletics department.

Elliott worked in a number of managerial and leadership roles at Stanford, her alma mater. As Project Manager in 2004-05, she secured a $30 million contribution for new football stadium construction and directed the transition to launch the reopening of a renovated Maples Pavilion, the basketball and volleyball venue. Elliott also worked as a Project Manager for the Stanford Board of Trustees (2003-04), as Program Director for the Stanford Alumni Association (1987-89; 1992-95) and as Director of Football Operations (1989-92).

Elliott was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Huntsville Flight - a charter member of the NBA's National Basketball Development League in 2001-03. Her marketing and business acumen led to the Flight being a model franchise for the NBA, generating nearly $600,000 in corporate sponsorship.

She was a regional operations manager for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Committee and a senior general manager for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Committee, where she was responsible for operational planning and construction at six of the 10 competition venues.

Crystal Dunn: Thank you so much for coming and today to speak with me. It’s truly an honor. Being a Senior Associate Athletic Director, how is that?

Kellie Elliott: Oh it’s exciting! Getting to work with all the student-athletes, it’s fun.

CD: So how did you get started with all this?

KE: You know, I knew once I went to college that I started pre-med, and once I started working in the athletic department, I said, “I want to be behind-the-scenes working with student athletes and making a difference with sports.”

CD: Awesome! You started working in this position how long ago?

KE: 27 years ago.

CD: Goodness gracious. I was not expecting that long ago. That’s awesome! So you’re pretty much a master at this.

KE: I’ve been doing it awhile.

CD: So as a woman in a very powerful position, do you face a lot of challenges?

KE: Absolutely, all of the time.

CD: What are some of those?

KE: There’s some barriers. It’s a man’s world, mostly sports. I started as a Director of Football Operations and I was probably one of the few females that did that. So getting used to that and making sure you didn’t trip yourself up, you know what I mean? And being your own barrier. So being gender blind was very helpful for me. So that’s how I started.

CD: That’s amazing. What are some of the rewarding aspects of your job? What do you love about it?

KE: You know what I love is that I make a difference and that with everything I do, no day is the same. Ever.
“It’s been a whirlwind. I’m not exactly sure how it’s all happened.” - U.S. WNT defender Casey Short on the last four years of her life.

CD: I mean, that’s super important. I can relate, obviously, just equality all around. I mean, we are still fighting for it in women’s sports and it’s just incredible to have women, such as yourself, in a very high position and providing a lot of power and distributing it out equally. I think it’s just amazing. Did you play any sports growing up?

KE: I did. I played field hockey, kind of similar; tennis, track & field and volleyball.

CD: So you do it all? Did you try some soccer in there?

KE: You know, I never got the soccer thing. Relatives have played soccer though. I’ve seen a lot of soccer games.

CD: Okay, well that’s still a plus. That’s amazing. So our campaign, #SheBelieves, is really used to inspire women. It’s just incredible. Any chance we get to speak with women, such as yourself, it’s amazing because it relates to what we do. Everyday we’re going out there to train. Obviously I wouldn’t say soccer is completely male-dominated, but we’re still fighting to gain equal rights and equal opportunities to be on the same platform as them.

KE: You’re such terrific role models, I’ve got to say that.

CD: We try. We definitely try.

KE: Absolutely. And that’s what we try to do at our school, especially with females. We connect them with women in this community. We make sure they have all the opportunities the men do as well.

CD: What would you tell young girls to aspire to be what they want?

KE: Don’t be your own barrier. Because I think a lot of times women doubt themselves and they need the confidence to say, “I can do whatever I want to do.” And don’t doubt yourself. Men are pretty good about having that confidence, and women need to get that and it’s okay to fail. Just learn from it and go on. It’s just a moment of clarity, right? Just get better.

CD: Great. I’m going to use that actually for my own self.

KE: That’s great! Well, we are really proud of you guys.

CD: Well, thank you so much!

                                   

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