The Athletics Department celebrated National Girls & Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3, with a virtual event featuring Lancer softball alumna Marissa Avanzato ’16.
Avanzato was a three-year member of the Lancer softball team, where she helped lead Worcester State to the 2016 MASCAC Championship, and was a three-time Spring All-Academic team selection, while also a three-year member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She was the president of Lambda Pi Eta, Worcester State’s Communication Honor Society, as well as a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Athletic Honor Society.
After graduation, Avanzato began her career in athletic communications at Villanova University, serving as an intern. After one year, she began a graduate assistant position at Eastern Tennessee State University, and in 2019, began her current role serving as assistant director of athletic communications at Texas A&M University.
Her career in collegiate athletics started almost as soon as she stepped foot on Worcester State’s campus as a freshman in the fall of 2012. She was granted federal work-study, and began working for Worcester State Baseball Coach Dirk Baker. “That was my first real start in anything in collegiate athletics,” she said.
It wasn’t until her senior year that Avanzato, whose brother works for the New York Yankees, realized she could make a career in college athletics. “I started shadowing (then sports information director) Nikki Narducci a ton, which gave me a lot of experience. I learned (the statistics programs), writing, and a handful of other things that I never even knew about.”
Avanzato admitted that she still didn’t have an abundance of experience after graduation, but that persistence was what got her into the athletic communications field.
“I still have this on my Mac: I applied to 32 different internships, graduate assistant positions, and marketing, social media, and sports information positions,” she said to the student-athletes. “Villanova ended up being the one that gave me my first shot, and I learned a ton in that first year.”
What Avanzato ultimately took from the experience of applying for 32 jobs, and what she preached to the Worcester State student-athletes was to “never give up, and just keep shooting.”
As primary media contact for the Aggie women’s volleyball and softball programs, Avanzato regularly travels around the country with the teams. Spending time with these college athletes has made her realize that the relationships she gained after walking onto the Worcester State softball team her sophomore year are her fondest memories of her four years on Chandler Street. “Even in quarantine, a few of us got on a Zoom together,” she said. “I haven’t seen these people since six years ago, and it was amazing to see where we all were.
“The relationships that we built, the opportunity to play the game we love, and being able to say I was a college athlete have all become part of my career. Being a sports information director is about the closest thing to not being an athlete anymore. That’s the reason I love being an SID so much—the relationships I get to build with my players, and watching them succeed and grow as players.”
“I would like to send a huge thank you to Marissa for coming on and speaking with our student-athletes,” said Worcester State Director of Athletics Michael Mudd. “I think our women student-athletes here at Worcester State are rock stars. They have continued to succeed not only in competition, but in the classroom, in the community, and even some on the frontlines of the pandemic.”
Celebrated annually, National Girls & Women in Sports Day, powered by the Women’s Sports Foundation, “inspires girls and women to play and be active, (and) to realize their full power,” says the Women’s Sports Foundation on their website. “NGWSD honors the achievements of female athletes, coaches and leaders and continues to Lead Her Forward by acknowledging the power of sports to unlock her limitless potential.”
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