Jan. 16, 2009
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - In the right place at the right time, a Colorado State graduate this weekend is on the verge of getting a trip to Super Bowl XLIII.
Kristen Deahl, who graduated in May with a degree in technical journalism, has spent the season as an intern in the Baltimore Ravens public relations department. Deahl, who also worked in the athletic media relations office during her time at CSU, will join the Ravens coaches and players this weekend in Pittsburgh at the AFC championship, where Baltimore bids for a trip to its second Super Bowl. She took time out of her busy week to answer a few questions for CSURams.com.
What did you study at CSU and how is it different in the "real world"?
I was a technical journalism major with an emphasis in public relations. While I learned a lot, and received a great education at CSU, PR in the sports world is much different than the PR I was taught. It's hard to describe how. I think it's just that in sports you act more on the day-to-day short term, rather than tackling a single problem or opportunity by implementing one plan over a designated period of time.
What do you do for the Ravens?
I have a lot of duties. Keep in mind that there is another intern, Denver Parler, who shares a lot of these duties with me. Of course I start the day off with clips. We search the Internet for local and national stories about the Ravens. On Mondays and Tuesdays our main goal is to complete the weekly book, so I do my part for that. It consists of preparing the game-by-game stats for defense and special teams, the NFL league-wide stats, connections and weekly clips (the book goes to the television and radio broadcasters, as well as to other media).
On those days I also make copies of the league stats and the latest game book to deliver to all our coaches and player personnel staff. This is one of my favorite things to do because I get to interact with those people.
Wednesday starts our media availability for players, with press conferences featuring select ones. Thursday is the coordinators' turn to speak, and Friday is Coach Harbaugh again (he also speaks on Monday and Wednesday). I've had the opportunity to arrange interviews with players and follow them through to completion. I do a lot of transcribing of people at the podium.
I supervise the media during the portion of practice that they can watch. During the season when we had home games, I would prepare a pregame notes document with information about kickoff, notes about the teams -- injury information, stats, etc.
On game days, I would set out the place cards in the press box and then be available pregame to answer the phones, run credentials, etc. Postgame at home games, I help with the quotes process, sitting in at the press conference and then transcribing it. After away games, Denver and I take turns writing a sidebar for the Web site, baltimoreravens.com.
Do you travel with the team?
I do get to travel to Pittsburgh, but not on the team plane. The only time I was able to travel with the team was during the preseason to New England. The Ravens organization is providing an option for employees and family members to get to the game through charter buses. I don't have to pay the cost because I'm going to the game to work in the press box. And, I'll write a postgame sidebar story on the bus on our way home. It's a little surreal that I'm going to an AFC championship game. The Ravens had a similar deal to go to last weekend's game against the Titans. I got in on that. We flew on a private charter to Nashville, had a pregame party at the team hotel, went to the game, and then flew home. I had to pay for that one because I went as a fan. It was such a great experience, though.
What's Baltimore like this week with the Ravens playing for a trip to Super Bowl XLIII?
This city is going crazy. The only thing I can compare it to is when the Rockies went to the World Series. Baltimore, and most of Maryland, has turned purple. Purple lights are illuminating buildings all over the city and state. I mean, even the local McDonalds in Owings Mills, where the team's facility is, have made their lights on the outside of the building purple. People are setting up tents on the side of the road to sell shirts and Ravens gear. Over 1,000 fans showed up to the airport last Saturday night to welcome the team home. It's not just sports shows talking about the game; any station from Mix FM to Lite FM is supporting the team. Baltimore may be a small-market team, but these fans are some of the most dedicated and all-out fans I've ever seen. Just driving around the city, I'd say about one out of every 10 cars has some sort of Ravens sticker or flag on it.
Deahl interviews Ravens legend Jonathan Ogden for a feature in the team's GameDay program
Before a potential Super Bowl trip, what has been your most memorable moment so far?
Actually, my most memorable moment came when the Ravens played the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium (Deahl grew up in the Dallas area). This was a game that the Ravens had to win to hope for a playoff berth. And this was a game that the Cowboys "had" to win to uphold the integrity of their stadium, and season to some extent. I went down to the field for the pregame warmups, and the way that you get to the field from the service elevator just happens to be through the Cowboys tunnel. When I walked onto the field at Texas Stadium, through the Dallas Cowboys tunnel - Super Bowl wins represented on the wall and everything - that was my most memorable moment. It was special moment to get onto the field that way, to look up and see the hole in the ceiling of the stadium. And that win for the Ravens was special. It showed that we could beat a serious contender in the NFL, that we could win when it mattered. And the Ravens haven't looked back since.
What are your hours like?
I work over 50 a week if the game is away, and I'm not writing a story. For a week with a home game, it's over 60 hours. During training camp we worked up to 80 hours a week. If I fill out a time sheet and it has less than 50 hours on it (which happened during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks), I feel like I haven't worked enough.
What are your career aspirations?
I would like to keep doing what I'm doing now. I just aspire to stay in the NFL, lucky enough to work, interact with and support a good team - players and coaches. I love what I'm doing.
Any final thoughts?
I have been extremely blessed to spend this season with the Baltimore Ravens. The entire organization is first-class, from the top down. The leaders set the tone for the rest of the employees, and they are kind, smart, respectful, and treat you like a valuable person. This team deserves every ounce of success they receive this season. Their heads are in the right place. The players are confident in each other, their preparation and abilities, but not cocky. They are a grounded, real team with a unified vision.