Kayla Santiago will make Rowan history as the first female sports director of Rowan Radio, starting on May 1. For the past 57 years, this role has always been handed over to a man. But Santiago shows that barriers for women continue to be broken.
At just 20 years old, Santiago has already achieved so much. Not only did she get to call the final championship game for the Delaware Blue Coats Broadcast Academy, but she also did play-by-play for their entire season with Jason Joseph, Lloyd Wilson and Aaron Hook.
Santiago has been able to branch out with different sports teams while at Rowan. She has called games for basketball, baseball, softball, football, soccer and field hockey. Those experiences and that preparation has given her the tools needed to take on this major responsibility.
“I feel like it really prepared me for this moment because I have an extensive background in calling games,” Santiago said. “Now I can keep growing and working on that while also helping others who are new to calling games.”
As the sports director for the 2021-22 school year, some of Santiago’s priorities will be scheduling broadcasters for the games and broadcasting herself, overseeing sports talk shows, making sure everyone stays on task and conducting interviews.
Santiago will have the chance to perform different tasks that maybe she wouldn’t have before.
“This is a chance for me to do what I love, which is doing play-by-play for games,” Santiago said. “While doing that, I can also come up with content for sports talk shows, do different interviews and schedule people for games.”
Two people who help Santiago become better at what she loves are Derek Jones, the station manager for Rowan Radio, and Gary Erdelyi, Rowan Radio’s current sports director.
“Derek has done games for ESPN and has helped me so much with sports broadcasting at my time at Rowan,” Santiago said. “I will definitely still be going to him for advice and help when I’m sports director.”
Erdelyi has given Santiago some advice for the job she will take on – just be yourself.
As someone who has become a leader in her field, Santiago can pass what she learns to other student broadcasters. Calling games comes with many challenges, but she will help in any way that she can.
“I’m super excited to help student broadcasters,” Santiago said. “I have had so much help from mentors and other students along the way, that I’m excited to give back and help others who want to do this.”
As exciting as this role is, Santiago is ready for the difficulties that will arise when it comes to assigning student broadcasters to every game.
“I’m nervous about the overlap of sports,” Santiago said. “Because sometimes sports like soccer and football overlap, so I have to make sure that there are enough broadcasters available to do every game.”
When Santiago graduates next spring, she is looking forward to showing future employers all that was she able to do as sports director and broadcaster.
“Not only will companies see an extensive reel for play-by-play and broadcasting sports in general, but they will also see that I have leadership skills and can be a director of a department,” Santiago said.
Three leadership skills that Santiago possesses to help her take on this role are her professionalism, work ethic and communication. For everyone to stay on the same page, Santiago will work hard to make sure nothing gets missed. But that type of effort can’t be done unless you are willing to do the work that is needed.
“I believe my work ethic is second to none,” Santiago said. “One of my goals is to always out-work everyone in the room, and with that, I hope people see that and also have that mindset.”
And for all women who will work in sports after college, Santiago has advice that will go a long way.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman,” Santiago said. “Don’t let being a woman in this business discourage you, let it empower you to show people that women can do it, too.”
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