Through her summer job at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Katie Hiestand ’22 played an important behind-the-scenes role in Enshrinement Week 2021 and had an “unforgettable” experience as she helped arrange the itineraries for inductees Peyton Manning, John Lynch, and Troy Polamalu, her favorite pro football player.
My Summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
I worked at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Gold Jacket Relations Liaison. Last year was the Centennial Celebration of the NFL, so 20 people were expected to be inducted instead of the normal eight. Because last year's Enshrinement Ceremonies were postponed to this year, there were 20 people from the Class of 2020 and the additional eight of the Class of 2021, for a total of 28 inductees, which my team handled.
The team consists of 10 seasonal workers who were paired up and assigned 3-4 incoming enshrinees to manage. My partner and I were assigned Troy Polamalu, John Lynch, and Peyton Manning, along with the families of the posthumous inductees Bobby Dillon, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Steve Sabol, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle, George Young, and Bill Nunn.
Throughout the summer, my partner and I met with the enshrinees and their assistants to address any questions they had, organize their transportation and hotels, and create itineraries for their stay in Canton for the induction ceremonies on Aug. 5-9. We also handled ticket sales and hotels with their friends and family that they personally invited to their induction ceremony. When the enshrinees arrived in Canton, we were personally responsible for keeping the enshrinee on schedule, escorting them throughout their events, and addressing any needs that came up. This was a great honor both for Canton and the Hall of Famers!
I interned at the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer in the sponsorship department and met my current boss when she came to talk to the interns about her career. I was very intrigued by what she did and set up a time to speak to her and get to know more about her career path. We stayed in touch throughout the school year. When she offered me this opportunity, I was so excited and accepted it immediately!
Growing up in Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been part of my life. I never realized how much planning goes into the events to make them run so smoothly, but this job put me behind the scenes. One of the most valuable experiences is getting to see the person behind the enshrinee. Being inducted is the pinnacle of their career, and I am honored to be able to contribute to their experience. I was really excited when I got to meet Troy Polamalu. He’s my favorite player!
An Unforgettable Enshrinement Week
My first Enshrinement Week was unforgettable. This experience taught me that no matter how much you plan, there will still be bumps in the road that you need to adjust to and figure out in the moment. Because of this and the trust my team had in me, I gained confidence in myself and in my decision making. I was able to get to know John Lynch, Peyton Manning, Troy Polamalu, and their families, and it really gave me perspective on how important an honor this was for all of them. I was also fortunate enough to get to know the returning Hall of Famers and their families, who told me so many stories from their past careers. I loved listening to them! Overall, the best part was that everyone who came to Canton showed so much appreciation for me and my team's work that it made the stress and long hours throughout the summer completely worth it.
What I’ve Learned as a Wittenberg Athlete
As an athlete at Wittenberg, I have learned the value of adaptability and teamwork. This relates to my current job as we are a small group responsible for coordinating and facilitating the Enshrinement Week experience not only for the enshrinees, but their invited friends and family as well. It is very detailed work impacting thousands of people. With so many variables, it takes trust in who we work with and the ability to be adaptable in order to succeed.
How Wittenberg is Preparing Me for the Future
Besides providing a great education, Witt has developed me into a well-rounded individual. Whether it's playing on a team, organizing an event, interacting with faculty, or tutoring other students, each experience has allowed me to grow in confidence and leadership.
My career interests are yet to be defined, but I do know that I enjoy speaking with people, I want to do something that helps others, and I do not want to spend all of my time behind a desk. This summer opportunity has fulfilled those three things and allowed me to experience and explore what else this opportunity has to offer.
Katie Hiestand ’22
Hometown and state: Canton, Ohio
Majors: Marketing and Communication
Activities at Wittenberg: Women’s Volleyball, Student Athletic Advisory Committee member, Membership Vice President of Gamma Phi Beta, Athletes in Action, Mortar Board, Communication and Business Leadership Experience (CABLE), Honors Ambassador
On-campus Jobs: Oral Communication Center advisor, game day staff, office assistant to volleyball coaches