Sarah Houseknecht knew she wanted to work in a field related to sports. The global director of brand communications for Wilson Sporting Goods in New York City came to Southern to play basketball, and was a member of the 2007 NCAA Division II championship team. She later joined Southern’s volleyball team.
Graduating with a B.S. in journalism, Houseknecht transitioned to a career in public relations, which allowed her to combine her love of writing with her passion for sports. Before landing the job at Wilson, she did an internship at Southern’s public affairs office, and worked in public relations for Foot Locker and Disney Sports.
Interview by Tyler Fisher, SCSU JRN ‘23. Answers were condensed and edited 2022.
Were you interested in journalism or PR when you were in school?
I thought I wanted to get into broadcast journalism, specifically in the sports space. Pretty much for my entire life I knew when I was done playing sports, I still wanted to have them be a part of my life. And I was very fortunate to figure out how to do just that. At the time, I didn’t realize it would be through public relations. But a number of internships that I had while I was here sort of led me there.
What internships or student media were you involved in when you were at Southern?
At first I did Southern News, which was a great experience. I really got a lot of writing experience from that. Then I also had an opportunity to work at an athletic conference in downtown New Haven. I think I learned from that, that I didn’t want to work in sports information for the long run. And then I did some very PR-related internships at places like Lockheed Martin, and learned that I didn’t want to end up outside of sports.
Was it hard balancing your undergraduate degree with being on sports teams at Southern?
I would say yes, and no. When you finish college and go get your full-time job, you realize how, frankly, easy college was. But there’s a lot from a schedule perspective that feels difficult at the time. Southern is a Division II school, so I think it’s a nice balance of competitive athletic focus while still having time to dedicate to your studies.
Do you have any life recommendations?
Find something you love to do. Because work is not a 9-to-5. It doesn’t take up 40 hours a week. I spend a ton of time working. It is a significant part of my life. And if I didn’t like what I did, that would be the worst thing to have to say out loud.
I’m very fortunate that I love what I do.