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Alumni Successes

5 Questions with Director of Softball Operations Carson Shaner

Carson Shaner during softball game
Carson Shaner (left) was named director of softball operations for NC State Athletics in July 2023. Photo provided.

Carson Shaner graduated from NC State in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management and in 2023 with a master’s degree in parks, recreation, tourism and sport management. She now works as the director of softball operations for NC State Athletics and NC State Softball.

During her undergraduate education at NC State, Shaner served as the captain of the NC State softball team and served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She also completed a sport management internship with 4Life in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in addition to an internship with NC State Athletics Strength and Conditioning.

While in graduate school, Shaner continued to play for the NC State softball team and became graduate assistant coach during her second year. During her last few months as a graduate student, she worked as an assistant coach for the NC State softball team. She was named director of softball operations in July 2023.

We recently spoke with Shaner to learn more about her passion for sport management and how the College of Natural Resources prepared her for her career. Check out the Q&A below.

What is a typical day in your job like?

My day-to-day responsibilities change throughout the week and the semester. During the summer, the coaches are out recruiting so I am doing stuff around the office, sending out recruiting mailings and handling all the on-campus responsibilities. During the fall, we host recruits and their families, play eight fall ball games, have team practice and more. I also help to plan and build the itineraries, coordinate the games to make sure all the areas are covered and prepared for the weekend, handle all the operational tasks (umpires, bat testing, food, travel, game contracts, etc.) and assist with other tasks as needed. 

During the spring, I coordinate all the travel, food, game day tasks, etc. Things that come to mind are scheduling buses, flights, making itineraries, working with opposing teams on all operational duties, overseeing our technology with our analytics manager, and assisting the coaching staff with whatever is needed pre/during/post game. There are certain tasks that I handle all-year-round, like reconciling receipts, handling the budget, preparing for home/travel games, recruiting (mailings or on-campus visits) and all operational duties. One of the cool parts of my job is that I handle most of the office/inside tasks in the morning, and I am outside at the field the rest of my day assisting with practice, games, etc.  

What inspired you to study parks, recreation, tourism and sport management?

I am super passionate about sports. I have played sports since I was a little kid and it has made me the person I am today. Learning from failures, growing through adversity, understanding how to push through hard things, learning how to work with others who might see things differently than you, growing into a leader, seeing how sports has connected me with so many people all over the world and learning how to deal with success versus shortcomings, all come to mind. These are just a few of the things that I have learned growing up in sport. 

I wanted to pursue a career in sports and help young women grow into strong, successful and confident people who take pride in representing their university, use the tools they learned through sport and make others around them better. Being able to graduate from NC State with two degrees in the same program allowed me to not only pursue a career in the area I love, but it allowed me to do it at the place that shaped me. NC State University and NC State Athletics helped pave the way for me to receive multiple degrees, to give back to the community that I love and build up a program that means so much to me. The professors and classmates I met along the way were awesome as well. I loved learning from others and got to see how all four areas (parks, recreation, tourism and sport management) are so similar.

What impact are you making through your position?

I have the opportunity to work with 24 female student athletes each day, as well as with the softball and support staff. My goal each day is to make this program better. This can be things like building relationships, improving the overall program, making sure everyone feels prepared, working with colleagues to improve our facilities or interacting with our alumni. NC State Softball and the people in the program (past or present) have impacted my life in more ways than I can count, so I am grateful for the opportunity to do the same for them.  

How did the college prepare you for your current position?

When I was in undergrad, I was a player in the program so I knew how things operated and had a good idea of things that happened behind the scenes. During my last year on the team, I started pursuing my master’s degree so I was able to gain more insight on operational tasks, budgets and the public sector. Now being on the other side for the past two years, I have gained a new respect and appreciation for all that goes on to make game days happen. 

It takes a village to prepare for one game. From game operations, facilities, marketing, communications, video, concessions, security, ticketing, parking, officials, game contracts, etc. So much planning occurs to make sure the student athletes and coaches can focus on winning the game. I would say I was pretty lucky to have background knowledge in the area of sport from being a student-athlete. The classes and professors prepared me for the daily tasks that I complete, and being a student-athlete prepared me for things like handling adversity and being a team player.

What advice do you have for current College of Natural Resources students?

Take accountability for your academic career. When a professor gives you feedback, take it and try to improve. Their job is to make you better and prepare you for your career one day. Your future boss is going to expect the most from you so buy into what your professor asks of you and push yourself to meet the standard. There are so many people at NC State that want to help you grow in all areas of your life during your four years. Lean in, get involved and build relationships because you will not regret it.  

Do not take a day for granted, whether it is in class or in your job. One day, you will look back and miss those late nights with friends cramming for a test, going to sporting events together and being in the same state as your best friends. I have not been out of college that long, and I already miss it. The lessons you learn go far beyond the textbook or final grades. The College of Natural Resources and NC State University will always be a part of your life. I am so grateful for all the people I met along the way and excited for the people I will continue to meet.

This post was originally published in College of Natural Resources News.