Spotlight on athletics intern Kat Sokirka ’18

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Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

If you’ve been to a Bison basketball game this year, you’ve heard the iconic voice of Katherine Sokirka ’18 ringing through the Sojka Pavilion. You’ve experienced the “Hey there, Bison fans!” intro followed by the screaming of young and old fans alike for free Domino’s pizza or the passing out of the players’ Fatheads to the VIP student section.

Sokirka holds two internships in the department of athletics this year—one for the Coca-Cola marketing internship and one through the Undergraduate Executive Internship Program. A long-time sports fan and athlete, she came to the University her first year knowing that she wanted to work in the world of athletics after graduation, and these positions have provided her with valuable experience toward achieving that dream.

Sokirka got her start in Bison athletics during her second semester. She was retrieving a foul ball as a spectator at one of the softball games when a staff member asked her if she’d be interested in interning there. After an interview, Sokirka was offered the position and never looked back. She looks forward to continuing her work with Bison athletics next year.

During her time here, Sokirka has dedicated herself to increasing school spirit and student attendance at home events. In her first year, she noted that the stands were always packed with enthusiastic students, but participation has since faded. However, she believes that the caliber of the teams hasn’t decreased. Athletes often remark that it’s much more fun and easier to play when the energy of the crowd is behind them.

What can students do to boost school spirit, according to Sokirka? Get there early—it’s important to start off every game on the right foot. Bring your friends. Stand up on the bleachers, cheer, act crazy.

“Just be insane. Get rowdy. Be fanatics,” Sokirka said.

She did add that academics always come first, but mentioned that a study break doesn’t get much better than having fun with your fellow Bison fans at a basketball game. You can see the twinkle in her eye as she imagines a packed student section of dedicated fans, all vocally urging their team to a win. You can also tell that it pains her that she often can’t join that student section herself. Nevertheless, to see that vision manifest itself for Bison basketball games in Sojka would make all of her hard work worth it.

“We are truly trying to put the psycho back in Sojka,” Sokirka said.

To achieve this goal, she has worked with the football and basketball programs to do on-court promotions that put an energetic spark in home athletic events. Recently, she’s also begun a project involving benchmarking other peer institutions, like Patriot League and Ivy League schools, on their student experience at tailgates. Her goal is to understand what we can do here to increase attendance at tailgates and other similar events.

Sokirka has also held an externship with ESPN and multiple internships with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the AAA contingent for the New York Yankees. A lifelong fan, Sokirka says her ultimate dream job in athletics would be sports marketing or advertising for the Yankees organization.

“There would be nothing better than waking up every day knowing that you’re gonna love what you do,” Sokirka said.

She remarked that it was incredible to witness the franchise evolve and grow in her time with the RailRiders, and that she would love to see that in her professional post-graduate career.

Through all of these work experiences in athletics, Sokirka has learned firsthand the level of dedication and enthusiasm that it takes to work in sports.

“Not everything goes right all the time,” Sokirka said. She’s had to work in the moment and adapt to any situation that she encounters.

Sokirka’s contributions to the department of athletics as an intern have been one of the hallmarks of her career at the University, but the smile that inevitably appears on her face whenever she glances at the student section gives her away. It’s not about the positions or the titles; it’s about being around what she loves. It’s about her passion, her vision, her drive towards achieving her future ambitions. And judging by her involvement with Bison athletics, she’s well on her way to doing so.

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