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Former MSU grad looks to expand number of women in sports business

March 4, 2016
<p>Women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant speaks to media during Women's Basketball Media Day on Oct. 28, 2015 at Breslin Center.</p>

Women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant speaks to media during Women's Basketball Media Day on Oct. 28, 2015 at Breslin Center.

Photo by Sundeep Dhanjal | The State News

The job market for any occupation in sports is already extremely competitive. From athletic communications to sports management the name of the game isn’t what you know, it’s who you know—professional development and networking are essential to prosper in the industry.

Meet MSU alumna Kristin Porter. Porter is the founder of Females in Athletic Business, or FAB. FAB is a women’s empowerment organization that aims to unite both students aspiring to pursue a career in sports business and professionals already in the industry to expand the growing number of females pursuing jobs in sports business.

How Porter came up with FAB

Porter, a Haslett, Mich. native, knew she wanted to work in the world of sports ever since she was a college student. After she graduated from MSU, Porter became a sales assistant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lansing. About a year later, Porter was promoted to sales manager for their Sports Market, which for the next four years would offer lodging to colleges playing MSU sports teams.

Porter then worked for Anthony Travel, Inc., an agency that handles all of MSU’s travel arrangements. After six months of working at Anthony Travel, Porter found herself back at MSU, this time as an employee. Porter was hired as the sport operations assistant for the men’s basketball team, where she works today.

Porter, however, said believes that she was lucky. While she was still in school she worked two jobs and she considers herself extremely fortunate that she was able to land a job in such a competitive market, and that’s why Porter founded FAB — she wants young women all across the nation to be able to network with professionals in the industry so their post-college job search isn’t as stressful as hers was.

“I just want to pave that road for younger women that have the same passion as me, and I think there’s a hole in the market that doesn’t provide that for young women right now,” Porter said. “I’ve just been inspired to make it so that young women don’t have to go the roundabout way that I went to get here. ... This is my dream job, and I have it at 30 and I feel really great about that, but I think I could have gotten here a little more directly and a little quicker.”

The potential of FAB

As an organization, FAB is only about a few weeks old, but the following is snowballing quickly, currently standing at about 60 members strong. Porter believes that the key to success in the real world lies in help from others.

“The big three things I want to stress are networking, mentorship and education," Porter said.  "Every professional and every student should look for those three things. … In college, you shouldn’t have to cross your fingers and hope you get to where you want to go. ...  There should be a way, and now there is a way that girls with this passion can get from 'what's my major?' to 'this is my dream job.'"

FAB isn’t just a local organization. There are already members from multiple colleges around the state, such as Central Michigan University, Hope College, Adrian College and professionals from all four major sports franchises in Detroit. 

MSU volleyball head coach Cathy George said she thinks FAB is full of potential.

“I hope that (FAB) gets larger and larger as time goes on,” George said. “I think there’s a lot of young people looking for jobs in the sport industry and that itself is growing leaps and bounds over the years. There are just so many opportunities that I don’t think people are aware of in so many different areas.”

Introducing chairwoman Suzy Merchant

Porter isn’t the only one who sees the potential in FAB. As of Feb. 18, MSU women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant has agreed to become the first chairwoman of the organization.

"It’s a really exciting idea and concept,” Merchant said. “Most people know when it comes to young kids or women’s issues, I’m all game for it. I think there’s a real need and necessity to give back to those particular areas.”

Merchant is one of the biggest names in women’s basketball. Her success with the Spartans has gained her notoriety all across the country, and her networking power could be just what FAB needs get its feet of the ground.

What’s next for FAB

Porter said she plans on having a major kick-off event for FAB in late April, after the men’s basketball season comes to an end. For more information on FAB visit their website at http://fabsportsorg.wix.com/faborg.

“(FAB) is really about helping people as they get involved with it, making sure there are networking opportunities, and a chance for growth,” George said. “(It’s really important to) be aware of all the opportunities, so you find the thing that’s best suited for you, your personality and your interests and passions.”

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