Spotlight On: Keely McMillon, Iowa Softball

Keely McMillon
Director of Operations
University of Iowa Softball
Hometown: Vermontville, Michigan
Education: Liberty University
Official bio
Twitter: @KeelyMcMillon23

What do the first two hours of your day look like?

Generally, the first two hours are made up of checking both my personal email account and our program account. After that depending on the day and point of the season it could be either staff meetings, final touches on either home gameday details, wrapping up travel plans, entering our CARA hours for the previous day or planning our next event whether it’s a camp or tailgate.

I think the best part of this position is that no two days are ever alike and I love it. We can have this perfect plan laid out for our daily goals to accomplish, and it takes one e-mail, phone call, text message or conversation to completely abandon that to do list and figure out the situation that was just presented. I regularly get a call or text from one of my best friends asking what my day looks like, and I can almost always say what’s on my to do list, but it doesn’t always mean that’s what’s going to get done that day.

Name one go-to resource (or two or three) that helps you with your duties.

Teamworks is our go to for just about everything. It has the capacity to do so much for us and really is a ‘one stop shop’ for our players and staff. Other apps I typically use during season are TripCase, Flight Stats and of course The Weather Channel and WeatherBug apps.

Another website we have started using was shown to me by our Marketing Director, Brian Clarke and our SID, Jack Rossi, its HeyOrca which allows us to pre-plan all of our social media information. This doesn’t mean we are stuck to this plan only, but as things happen we have the freedom to post and show our fans what Iowa Softball is doing in the moment.

But I think the biggest resource besides the apps is just talking to other operations people either here at Iowa or at other institutions around the country. Being able to have a conversation to see what they are doing and how I can incorporate it here to make things even easier for my staff and student athletes.

If you could go back to your first day on the job and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

This has been a constant reminder throughout my time in operations but it is just to watch, listen, discuss (when needed) and learn. There are a lot of people in this business all doing a lot of things, but what someone else or another department is doing could be a solution to a situation we are having within our program. It’s a collaboration from across departments within athletics, and across campus. Some of the best times where I really got to learn something new was helping out the event management staff whenever I could. It helped me better understand things from their perspective and what I could do to make the process more efficient.

As you look at the athletic operations field, what is one area that is growing/changing the most?

The growth in the position has definitely been noticeable within the past couple of years. Specifically, in softball and women’s sports as a whole, these positions are growing.

Best career or work advice you ever received?

It’s hard to just pick one piece of advice, I have been given the opportunity to learn from a variety of people in a number of different roles. I think that’s another fun part about this career path; the people that we meet along the way and the impact that they can have on what we do and how we do it. Simply put, take the time to build relationships with those around us and the advice and lessons will come when you least expect it.

First event, person, or job that sparked your interest in this field of work.

During my undergraduate degree we had to do a 400-hour internship, and I did this with the Liberty University Women’s Basketball program. At the time they were the only women’s team at Liberty to have a Director of Operations. Through the internship I got to see a lot of the behind of scenes work and things that I didn’t realize were happening with my own coaches over at Liberty Softball. I knew I wanted to stay at the collegiate level and from this experience I knew I wanted to go in the direction of Operations.

Tell us a story of the most unusual, craziest, or unexpected thing that has happened during your tenure in operations and how you handled it. 

I think the subtitle for any Director of Operations should be two things; expect the unexpected and you must have the ability to think outside of the box. Being an outdoor sport, weather is almost always a factor so having a plan for cameras, food and any delays is a must. Also, for softball filming platforms are not always present or safe. From an experience last year, I have now added string to our packing list. But of course, if you have an AWESOME athletic trainer they may let you ‘borrow’ some medical tape that can be fashioned into some pretty good string. Shout out to all the AMAZING AT’s that I have ever gotten to work with!!!

I don’t think this situation counts as a ‘creative’ solution, but it can definitely go in the book of ‘you just can’t make this up’. This was my first year in the job and a very big lesson learned! We were playing out in Oklahoma and got to the airport to head back home. Only to find out our flight had been cancelled and they were trying to reach me for quite a while. Only I had never received a single phone call. Come to find out our travel agent had put her office number on as the contact and this was a Sunday. So this is also the time that I discovered TripCase and Flight Stats. After standing at the counter for three hours the airline was able to find us a couple of planes and we were able to get home later that night.

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