Katie Mattern is always busy.
She is performing the balancing act of striving to graduate with a master’s degree in International Media and being a head figure of all things media in the American University Athletics office.
“It’s not a 9-to-5 job,” Mattern said. “It’s almost every night and a lot of weekends during the school year. I’m here doing something for work, whether that is writing a recap for an away game or covering a home event.”
Mattern is the sports information director for half the varsity sports at American University, which includes women’s basketball, wrestling, men’s and women’s cross country and track, volleyball, field hockey and women’s lacrosse.
It is her task to keep the world informed of what happens through the multiple mediums American athletics has to offer. Besides her media relations job, she also is a part of the production and organizing of AU’s Internet broadcasting website, EaglesVisionTV, where fans can watch live and archived home matches of every varsity sport.
As one of the few sports information directors in the nation carrying a full course load, hers is not the leisurely lifestyle of the everyday sports fanatic.
“I’m always worried about this job, things crashing,” Mattern said. “You can’t not be a workaholic in this job. You have to understand this is going to consume your life throughout the year, and you have to be ready for that. You have to be ready to drop everything on a Saturday night and write a game recap.”
As a sophomore journalism major, Mattern had always been a sports junkie growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pa., as a Steelers and University of Pittsburgh fan and helping film games for her father’s high school basketball team. Her AU job was a result of her hard work in the office as an undergraduate intern where she became the “go-to guy” throughout her college career at American.
But she said she doesn’t want to do this kind of job as a lifelong career.
“I don’t want to work in sports,” Mattern said, laughing. “I love it. I’ve always loved sports. I was a journalism major [for undergraduate] so it helped in that way and I wanted to diversify my resume.”
So what does the graduate student want to do when she finishes her time as a scholar?
“I want to work in media development, preferably with a nonprofit, teaching journalists in Africa how to cover events that doesn’t perpetuate conflict,” Mattern said. “Also teach them to cover stories objectively and how to interview children the right way.”
Mattern fell in love with the continent across the Atlantic when she traveled to Zambia her sophomore year on an alternative spring break doing HIV/AIDS educational work and helping the youth. She would like to use her experiences and skills of broadcasting, journalism and design at AU Athletics to achieve her goal in the southern African region, plus be more like her idol, foreign correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
“I tried everything growing up,” Mattern said. “But I was always watching the news, getting stories, which is why I did journalism in college. You know, pestering people.”
Attending a small school and living in Washington, D.C., has played a helpful role for Mattern as well. She said she would have never received the opportunities to intern with international nonprofits or garner the hands-on experience of public communications, design and production if she had attended a large state school in another city with a larger athletic department.
Despite having dreams to travel the world, preferably more places in Africa, she still wants to leave a legacy on AU Athletics via EaglesVisionTV from when she first joined in the fall of 2008 as an ambitious sophomore until the day she leaves the department to chase her dream.
“We were always trying to push ourselves to get better and do more,” Mattern said. “We could see we were motivated to improve [the broadcasts] and see it through until we graduated.
“And then I never left.”