By Matthew Stokes
BerryVikings.com staff writer
Running shaped former Berry student-athlete Katie Landry's college experience, but with her cleats hung up, she now channels her passion for the sport through her job.
Landry, a May 2008 graduate, works for USA Track and Field as its Marketing and Communications Coordinator. The route she took to that job began six years ago in Mount Berry.
Landry was going through the 2005 spring semester 2005 when she received an email that featured an internship at USATF. This opportunity interested Landry, but she realized that her work was cut out for her.
"I knew it was a competitive internship, and I needed some experience," Landry said.
So she approached Sports Information Director Mickey Seward and inquired about openings for a student work job in his department. Seward told her all the slots had been filled, but Landry explained she wanted experience and would not demand many hours. Seward proceeded to hire her, starting in the fall of 2005. Landry provided coverage of the cross country and golf teams.
When she later applied for the summer internship at USATF, Landry said her work at Sports Information and her online portfolio each helped her secure the position. During the summer of 2006, Landry lived in Indianapolis, serving as USATF's website intern. She took away some positives from that summer internship.
"It gave me confidence that I could find a job doing something that I really wanted to do. I realized that I could do a communications job anywhere," Landry said. "I could work at a bank or a real estate office, but it was more fun to do it in track and field."
Fresh off her internship, Landry returned to Mount Berry in Aug. 2006 to a surprise. Seward had taken a job outside of athletics, which added to her already hefty workload considering the other student workers had graduated. Those first two weeks, during which Landry essentially worked by her lonesome, were invaluable to her development.
"I remember the first weekend of school we had the home cross country meet, there was a home soccer match going on and there was a volleyball tournament. I spent my entire day in the sports complex, between running in the race myself, and then going and covering all of the other sports," Landry said. "That was a really good experience to learn and to be thrown into all those other sports."
Eventually, Scott Dunford was hired as the new SID, and Landry worked for him for the remainder of 2006-2007.
After that school year ended, Landry traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, working the gift shop and climbing mountains and kayaking in her spare time. This would not be the last time Landry ventured out to the Equality State.
By the time Landry graduated in May 2008, she had developed an important relationship with running coach, Paul Deaton.
"Paul shaped my entire college experience. He's one of the reasons I came to Berry because he made me feel so comfortable on the team," Landry said. "I still talk to him."
In reflecting on her running career at Berry, Landry called it the highlight of her time in college and, though she struggled with stress fractures throughout that time, she still sought to support her team.
"Since I couldn't always contribute to the team by running at the races, I used to scout out the competition," Landry said.
She would print out sheets for her women's running teammates, complete with the competition's running times and how the
"It's one thing to be encouraging to your teammates, but it's another to be so specific as to know what their personal records are and to be able to recognize their potential and encourage them specifically the way Katie did," Deaton said. "Katie would go the extra mile and let you know what your opponents had run last week, what it was gonna take to beat 'em."
Before she earned her diploma, USATF approached Landry about applying for a new position working on its website. Although she had little interest at the time, she went ahead and applied.
After graduating in May 2008, Landry traveled back out west to Wyoming, this time in a small town named Moose and soon forgot about the USATF job as she worked and applied for jobs in the West. The summer passed, and Landry struggled to find any jobs in her desired region.
Then good news came her way: USATF called and the job was still on the table. Landry flew to Indianapolis, intervie wed and earned a job offer. She was hired in mid-Sept. of 2008 and began working on Oct. 20 as the Internet Publishing Coordinator, managing USATF's website content.
"It was a hard decision to leave the mountains and move to the Midwest, but it's definitely been worth it," Landry said.
She would spend the next two-plus years in that role before switching to Marketing and Communications Coordinator in Feb. 2011. Her job now involves writing releases, handling USATF's media operations, managing its social media and some marketing. Her favorite part of her job is handling the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.
"I really enjoy that portion of my job because no one really did that before I came here," Landry said. "It's been fun to start those, and it's so easy to see the improvement and the number of people that are following us and interacting with us."
Landry said it is much easier to track the analytics of USATF's social media pages than determining the impact of an individual press release.
Another perk of her job is the travel.
This summer alone Landry has traveled to Oregon, South Carolina and France and will be in South Korea in August. The trip to France afforded Landry the chance to meet some of the premier American youth runners.
"It's pretty cool to be able to interact with these athletes and get to know them because, odds are the next Olympics down the road, a lot of them will be trying to make the Olympics," Landry said. "I'll remember them back when they were younger."
Meeting pioneers and legends in the running world like former Olympic gold medalist Dan O'Brien still catches Landry's attention.
"I've met so many amazing athletes. You don't want to be star-struck in your job, and I try and treat them as professional colleagues," Landry said. "But when you stop and think about the people that you're working with, it is pretty amazing."
Landry said having run collegiately helps her have credibility when she speaks to these standout runners.
"I'm surprised by the number of athletes who will ask me if I ran in the past," Landry said. "Obviously compared to Olympians, my accomplishments aren't very much."
Though she looks back on her Berry running career and her injuries somewhat disappointed by what could have been, her former teammates, professors and coach have fond memories of Katie Landry, the whole person.
Ashlea Hutchins, Landry's teammate from 2004-2008, said Landry's caring nature still can be seen to this day in how she treats those she does not even know that well.
"She barely knows anyone left on the team, but she took goodie bags to everybody," Hutchins said of the time last season when Landry brought treats to the current runners at a race in Indianapolis. "That's the type of heart that she has."
Former teammate Ryan McClay said he was listening to an online broadcast of the 2010 U.S. Half Marathon last fall when he recognized Landry.
"I was like, 'Wow! Katie Landry sounds just like an ESPN commentator," McClay said.
Brian Carroll, Associate Professor of Communications at Berry, said Landry's hard work in college and her continued success brings him joy.
"Your success as a student is my success as a professor," Carroll said. "As a professor I hear a thousand excuses for all sorts of failure. I never heard anything from Katie. I never had to. Everything was always on-time, top quality, good presentation top to bottom."
Deaton said Landry's body of work in her studies, running and student work life is impressive.
"I think Katie's a great example of a Berry student-athlete," Deaton said. "She's just an example of what we're all about, what we want to do."
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