Leah Clayton: Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics Director of Marketing - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately considering the plights of different types of people during this global pandemic. Obviously this is tragic, people are losing their jobs, and many are losing their lives. I thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of those people on the front lines of this pandemic, from the healthcare workers to the grocery clerks, who risk their own health to help others -- admirable traits, and I wish you nothing but health. 

But I’ve also been thinking about those of us locked down and isolated at our homes. 

I live in an area with some land, we have about 4 acres, I have my kids home with me, my wife -- I’m surrounded by my people. We have computers, TV, internet, food, phones, a ping pong table, stable jobs (for now) a huge garden. We have nothing to complain about. 

Others aren’t so lucky. This for them is far more challenging. Leah Clayton Lenoir rhyme university athletics

They live in small apartments, they don’t have access to the internet, they are all alone. This to them can be torture. 

Empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding their plight, is really important right now. 

I got my first job in Atlanta at 21, had never been there before, didn’t know anyone, and had a crappy apartment. Like, really crappy. I couldn’t imagine being locked in place at that time. I would have gone nuts.

Even later in my 20’s moved in with my future wife, just the two of us in another crappy apartment in Seattle -- Fremont to be specific. All these super cool things just outside our door within walking distance, but instead we could have been trapped inside. I’m not sure we’d be married now if that happened. 

I look at my situation now and say, not so bad. But I can also realize that so many of you are in a situation that makes this hard and uncomfortable and your motivating thoughts of “I’m going to learn new things and catch up on good books” may have drifted off by week 6 of this situation.

I’ve also been thinking about personality differences and how they can influence how someone is handling this situation. 

An extrovert is likely really having a hard time right now, trying to have game night on zoom, or facetime with friends… the quiet moments are likely crushing their spirit. 

Introverts, on the other hand, largely get their energy from inside themselves and selected interactions with people are likely handling this with grace. 

Some people may not have even realized who they were until these moments. You might not have realized just how much of an extrovert you were until it was taken away! If you are feeling right now this deep desire to be around other people...maybe you are more extroverted -- for you this is hell. 

But if you are Ok with this scenario, and surprised at how well you are handling this unexpected change, maybe you are more introverted than you realized prior. 

This is good, this is a positive for everyone because the more you understand yourself and how you tick, the more you can set yourself up for success. 

Today’s guest is a self-identified extrovert, she loves large passionate, screaming groups of sports fans… and that love serves her well in her role as Director of Marketing for Lenoir Rhyne Athletics. Just a few years removed from her undergrad, Leah Clayton has carved out quite a path for herself and she’s here to tell us all about it… and get some of that extrovert energy out!

Here’s Leah Clayton!


Questions for Lenoir-Rhyne Director of Marketing Leah Clayton


1: Before we get into sports marketing in athletics, and your life and role at Lenoir-Rhyne – let's go back to your beginning a bit -- why college sports and why marketing? How did you discover this career fit for yourself?

2: You earned your undergrad degree at Appalachian State in communication and PR and were a 4-year member of the cheerleading squad -- what is the biggest misconception people have about being a cheerleader?

3: Student-athletes face unique challenges in time management, training, discipline, accountability, coachability -- what did you learn most, personally, during your time as a student-athlete?

3: During this time, you were also the squads social media coordinator and handled the media relations – how important is it in your view to make the most out of every experience?

4: After graduating from App State, you eventually ended up at Lenoir-Rhyne as a Graduate Assistant for marketing and promotions as you pursued your MBA. I have so many people ask me what it’s like to be a GA, but I never did it… so tell me, what was the experience like and how did you balance your role as a student and worker?

5: I have to be transparent here, prior to this year I had never heard of Lenoir-Rhyne. Then in the last year, LR has been all over my world.

I met a very active member of our private Facebook group, Lauren Romano, who played basketball at Lenoir Rhyne, I’m a big NFL draft guy, Kyle Duggar, he is a top prospect from Lenoir-Rhyne, and now you, a guest on this podcast.

So that is a long way of me asking you to tell us a little more about Lenoir Rhyne and what in your view makes it a special community to be a part of.

6: I read in the press release when your promotion to director of marketing was announced that you will plan over 100 athletic events during the course of the academic year. That seems like a very broad description to me… let’s get specific, at a small school like L-R, what does it mean for you to be the Director of Marketing for the Athletic Department?

7: Obviously things have been turned upside down with Coronavirus. What are you doing now to keep yourself sharp and plan for the future that we will have?

8: It seems there are two types of people in our socially distanced quarantined world – those who are motivated to grow during the downtime and using the time productively, and those who are bored and binge-watching Tiger King … so where do you fit in that equation?

9: In marketing and promotions, how important is it for you to be naturally extroverted?

10: Every time I interview someone in sports marketing, whether it’s with the Boston Celtics, GSE Worldwide, Anheuser Busch or Lenoir Rhyne, all of you have marketing in your title, but have different focuses. Marketing is a broad term.

If you were advising someone in college listening right now who wanted to work in marketing, would you suggest they go the jack of all trades route, and try to get decent in many areas… or specialize in a singular function and become a master at it?

11: You also play a big role in the Lenoir Rhyne student-athlete community service, which ranks inside the top 20 of all NCAA Division II programs in the nation in terms of service hours. Why is this part of the job so important to you?

12: We’ll finish up with this – you are a role model to young professionals, especially young women who dream of entering the sports industry, just a few years ago you were an undergrad and now you are Director of Marketing for a college athletic program.  What advice would you give to a young professional who wants to follow in your footsteps?



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By Brian Clapp | April 22, 2020
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