By Tori Wittenbrock
ASHWAUBENON— Hayden Kupsh, a 2018 Ashwaubenon High School graduate, has made her way in the college football scene through her experience as a graduate assistant at Tulane University.
Although she was looking for something new, Kupsh said she was not expecting the opportunity for this position to come so fast.
“I was working with the Green Bay Rockers at the time and started looking into grad school options and found the open position at Tulane in New Orleans. It was a pretty quick interview process, and it was only a couple weeks after I found the position that I actually moved down to Louisiana,” said Kupsh.
Kupsh began her work with the team, prepared to take on a wide variety of responsibilities.
“I am a Fan Experience and Game Presentation Graduate Assistant within the Athletics Marketing department. I direct the game presentation of women’s basketball, baseball and am the marketing contact for women’s golf and track and field/cross country. I also assist with football game days including the in-game activations and pregame activities.”
A Rewarding Experience
At just 23 years old, Kupsh said she is excited about the path she has chosen for her career.
“I love working in sports and have always known that was the direction I wanted to go. My goal after school is to work in professional sports, preferably the NFL if I get the opportunity. In undergrad, I majored in Sport Management at UW-La Crosse and am currently working towards my Master of Science in Sport Science with Sport Administration and Sport Security certificates.”
This year was an especially important one in Kupsh’s career. On Jan. 2, Tulane won the Cotton Bowl, triumphing over USC in a hard-fought game, by just one point with a final score of 46-45. Kupsh had the rare experience of also getting a ring to commemorate the exciting win for the Green Waves.
“It was an incredible experience getting to witness such a historical season being on the field for every home game, and it was exciting when I learned I’d be getting rings to commemorate that season and knowing that the athletic department truly saw our value and hard-work in executing game days.”
Although her experience now has taken her all over the country, Kupsh said her love of sports started in her hometown.
“Growing up in Green Bay and seeing how much fun the Packers brought to the community, I decided a long time ago that I wanted to pursue a career in sports. Being at Tulane is giving me a great Division I collegiate athletics experience that I didn’t think I’d have,” said Kupsh.
Kupsh said that she discovered quickly how fast she would have to learn to adapt, given the versatility of her role with the team.
“My role does get stressful sometimes because we do so much planning and preparation prior to games and events, but nobody can plan what the game itself will look like so we have to be able to adjust in time-sensitive situations and game breaks,” said Kupsh.
However, the stress that comes as part of Kupsh’s job is also accompanied by some rewarding and unique experiences.
“One of the most fun experiences at Tulane was being able to work the AAC Championship game and assisting with the trophy presentation after we won. Being down in New Orleans, I was also able to volunteer to help with the on-field promotions at the Sugar Bowl Kickoff game at the Superdome in September where Florida State beat LSU by one.”
As expected, Kupsh said that being able to be a part of something big is important for not only herself, but the school’s legacy as a whole.
“I think my favorite part of working with the athletic department has been to witness some of the most historic moments in collegiate athletics. The football team’s success was the greatest single-season turnaround in FBS history and more recently, Tulane’s baseball team made the NCAA tournament with the most losses of any team to ever do so, after making a run in and winning the AAC tournament.”
Roots Run Deep
Although Kupsh said that she wouldn’t trade her experience at Tulane for anything, her Green Bay roots will always run deep.
“I miss having all 4 seasons – the humidity and heat down south gets old quickly. I also really miss being home for Packer game days in the fall,” said Kupsh.
“My favorite thing about attending college out of state has been getting to meet so many new people and experience things that are very different from the Midwest. My least favorite part is being so far away from family and friends and things I’ve grown up being so familiar with.”
According to Kupsh, living in the South is a very different experience than what she has been accustomed to in the Midwest. From the weather, to the culture, to football, she said she has had a variety of unique experiences that have shaped much of her current outlook.
“One of the most fun things I’ve experienced since being down here, outside of Tulane and sports, was probably getting to celebrate Mardi Gras. I had heard of it and seen pictures but the amount of parades and festivities throughout the full 40-day celebration was insane and so much fun to be a part of,” said Kupsh.
After all her time in both Wisconsin and Louisiana, Kupsh said she is looking forward to what is to come next for both herself and her career.