Careers in Sports a Focus of NFL Women's Summit

Minnesota Vikings team officials Tanya Dreesen (left), Karin Nelsen (center) and Anne Doepner (right) took part in Friday's NFL Women's Summit as part of the buildup to Super Bowl LII. Photo: KSTP/Frank Rajkowski
Minnesota Vikings team officials Tanya Dreesen (left), Karin Nelsen (center) and Anne Doepner (right) took part in Friday's NFL Women's Summit as part of the buildup to Super Bowl LII.

February 02, 2018 05:05 PM

A successful career in professional sports is more possible than you might think.

That was one of the main messages Minnesota Vikings Director of Football Administration Anne Doepner hoped attendees took away from the NFL's third annual Women's Summit, held Friday morning at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.


The event was first held in the run-up to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco two years ago, and has now become a part of the Super Bowl week schedule.

It featured not only women like Doepner, who hold positions in the NFL, but broadcasters like Beth Mowins of ESPN and CBS and Michelle Tafoya, who will be the sideline reporter on NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl LII Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

And there were appearances by former NFL players DeAngelo Williams, Charles Tillman and Warrick Dunn, as well as Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Lynx star Lindsay Whalen and many others.

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"I hear it a lot when I'm talking individually with young women," said Doepner, a College of St. Benedict graduate who is now in her 11th year with the Vikings.

"They'll say they didn't even know this is something they could do. So just showing them what's possible is an important part of all this."

Doepner's fellow Vikings front-office employees Tanya Dreesen, the team's vice president of partner activation and special projects, and Karin Nelsen, vice president of legal and human resources, joined two members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office for a panel discussion on "Building Your Own Huddle" – describing their experiences forming mentorships with other women in the industry and forging their own career trails.

"Your career is never going to take a straight path," said Jessica Worley, vice president of corporate sponsorships for the Buccaneers. "It's all about being open to new experiences and learning from them."

Minnesota's Moment: KSTP's Super Bowl Page

Dreesen said after the presentation that she hopes events like Friday's allow more young women to see what's possible when it comes to their own career paths.

"We want to inspire women who are thinking about a career in sports," she said. "And to provide them with examples they can look at as they begin to build their own networks."

Nelsen agreed.

"One of the great messages that comes out of an event like this is that there are so many different paths," she said. "I got into this as a lawyer. But here you see the broadcasters, and women who've come from other areas. There is such a variety of experience there."

PHOTO GALLERY: Friday in Downtown Minneapolis

Mowins and Tafoya took part in a discussion moderated by television personality Maria Menounos, the event's emcee.

"You can hear you're making an impact, but it hits you a lot harder when you see it yourself," said Mowins, who last season became the first woman in 30 years to call an NFL game. "We were doing a game in (Indianapolis) and we were coming back from break. I was checking out the crowd and I happened to catch a Dad in a Colts jersey who was there with his daughter. They weren't looking at the field. They were looking up at the booth. And I could see Dad was pointing at me.

"That's when it really hits home that what you're doing is important."


Frank Rajkowski

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