The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The backbone of SMU football is female

159 Views

If someone told you that nearly all of the SMU football intern staff is female, would you believe them?

Probably not. And why would you? The majority of faces on the sideline are men.

The SMU Football team is fostered, supported and promoted by women through their unpaid intern positions.

Players are front and center of SMU Football while seven recruiting interns help make the magic happen.

When football recruits visit SMU, the interns are in charge of making them feel included in campus life. Kylli Asaro, a sophomore who has been managing football and basketball teams since high school, does this by getting to know the recruit before they set foot on campus. She analyzes the players’ stats, memorizes faces and finds gold.

“I’m in control of a big part of how they perceive SMU,” Asaro said. “I want to give them the best possible experience to make them want to come back to SMU and play with us.”

Women root for SMU Football’s victory. From the 1942 Rotunda.

Growing up, Asaro received backlash from boys for wanting to be in the sports industry. She’s used to them “mansplaining” different sports to her.

“They don’t know me,” Asaro said. They don’t know that as football manager she kept track of player stats and swapped out practice equipment or as basketball manager she brought essentials for game day and lost sleep over the wins and losses.

Now, those boys who made fun of her are learning from her everyday.

The third longest tenured sideline reporter in NFL history, Laura Okmin, can relate. She was a “guy’s girl” her whole life. She understands how women need to fight for their place in any industry, especially in the sports industry.

“I was a bit confused when I started hearing that girls had no place in sports because that’s not the world I grew up in,” Okmin said.

Okmin has interviewed icons like Michael Jordan and high-profile Super Bowl players. Like Okmin, Asaro is committed to her personal development in the sports industry.

“There’s a newfound respect for me because I know sports and like sports,” Asaro said.

Asaro feels accomplished when she sees online encouragement. Personal DM’s, reposted Instagram stories and tweets from recruits are ways Asaro connects with them once they leave campus. Recruits thank and remember her.

“Excited to join the SMU Football family,” a current player who didn’t want to be named posted on his Instagram.

“Seeing that made me feel like it was well worth the chaos and energy that comes with typical game day operations,” Asaro said.

“Everything we sweat about to make sure everything is perfect was worth it.”

She did it. Finally, some public recognition.

It’s not just Asaro but a school of women who uplift and support SMU’s 126 football players.

Not on the recruiting intern staff, but just as important to players are girlfriends like Emma Gretzky who lend support from the stands or at home. As an avid tennis player, Gretzky understands the importance of emotional support on gameday. Her boyfriend, Stone Eby, showed up for her games and now she makes sure to do the same.

“I want to stay for him,” Gretzky said when talking about why she goes to SMU football games.

Coming from a family who lives and breathes sports, Gretzky knows how a sport can be emotionally and psychically chaotic. With a last name like Gretzky, she says she is used to a busy sports schedule but still makes time for those she loves.

“Winning or losing, Stone will come talk to me about how he felt on the field,” Gretzky said.

The abundance of support from the variety of women show the dedication to sportsmanship that often goes unnoticed.
Sophomore intern Lily Podolsky works with the team to recruit but also on their nutrition. She attends 5:45 a.m. practices, makes personalized smoothies and prepares snack bags for players

These are just a few of her daily tasks. She loves what she does, not just for the athletes but to support her dreams.

“I wanted to take every opportunity that I could to put myself in the best position for my career,” Podolsky said.

While Asaro and Podolsky agree that the SMU Football team is extremely grateful for their work, women are not the face of the team. They’re the backbone.

The backbone provides structure and support.

And to win the game, you can’t lose it.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Liz Cruz, Audience Engagement + Asst. Copy Editor
As the audience engagement and assistant copy editor, Liz Cruz helps keep a pulse on what readers are talking about on campus and online. Liz also helps out the copy desk by making sure stories are accurate, balanced and reflect the values of The Daily Campus. She was recently selected for the Dallas Morning News fellowship in spring 2024.  She also covers news on campus, you can reach her at [email protected].