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Watkins leaves athletics, takes new job in Chicago

Nicole+Watkins+was+the+assistant+athletics+director+for+three+years+PNW+before+leaving+July+14.
Nicole Watkins was the assistant athletics director for three years PNW before leaving July 14.

Nicole Watkins was the assistant athletics director for three years PNW before leaving July 14.

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Nicole Watkins was the assistant athletics director for three years PNW before leaving July 14.

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After three years of working at PNW, Nicole Watkins, assistant athletic director, left to take on the role of director of athletics communications at the University of Chicago.

Watkins said her experience at PNW allowed her to learn how to be a great boss.

“I didn’t have a ton of supervisory experience when I took the job three years ago, and now I’ve supervised so many different workers, students, learned how to run successful events, how to work with different departments and more. That’s going to be huge as I continue my career,” Watkins said. “I’ve also learned how to be patient and kind, no matter what the circumstances or stress.”

During her time at the university, Watkins oversaw sports information, marketing and event management and led the department to win the NAIA-SIDA Gary Spitler Memorial Award for Excellence in Publications. Watkins said she is also proud of the improvements made to the Pride Sports Network, which video streams the home games.

“The Pride Sports Network, with the help of some very talented people — my now graduate assistant Ben Cowart, to be specific — is unrecognizable from when I arrived in 2014,” Watkins said. “We produce such a high quality broadcast, it’s primarily student-run and it was one of my major goals coming in. It’s extremely satisfying to accomplish it.”

RIck Costello, director of the athletics department, said her strength and skills in design, writing and event planning made her an asset to the department.

“She was vital in the rebranding of the athletic program when we merged, especially with the logo,” Costello said.

Watkins also worked on growing the PNW athletics social media platforms by implementing new graphics and focusing on reaching out to students and alumni.

“We’re going to miss her and follow her closely at Chicago and see what is coming out of there under her,” Costello said.

Watkins said the decision to take the new role was in part because she lives in Chicago, but also because the University of Chicago is one of the best in NCCA Division III sports.

“There are tons of stories to tell regarding their student-athletes, and I can’t wait to be able to tell them in the best way I know how — through new media, video, imagery, graphics, social media and more,” Watkins said.

Watkins said that her time at PNW has been enjoyable because of the leadership, coworkers, students and many others around her.

“It’s always hard to leave somewhere you love, but I know what we’ve built in sports information leaves the Pride in a very good place. I can’t thank Rick Costello, our director of athletics, enough for giving me my shot here and supporting our office, as well as my assistants — Jon Newcomb, Ben Cowart, and David Bork — all of my student-workers, our coaches and staff who have really just made my time here at PNW completely worthwhile,” Watkins said.

Watkins left in July and will be replaced by Rob Huizenga.

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