Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by Jen Mueller

As a sports broadcaster, I spend a lot of time talking about sports in terms of stats and scores. That’s one approach, here’s another: looking at the ways sports participation develops leadership skills.

In fact, that’s the focus of the 5th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast presented by the Seattle Sports Commission and AT&T on October 26, 2017.  Featured on the panel this year are athletic directors, Shaney Fink and Jen Cohen. They’ve got unique insights and perspective on leadership as two of only 38 female athletic directors at the NCAA Division I level.


Getting to Know… Shaney Fink

Director of Athletics, Seattle University

Shaney Fink is the Director of Athletics at Seattle University. She previously served as the Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman’s Administrator at the University of San Diego. Her tenure at USD spanned more than 17 years and included previous roles in compliance and student services, academic support and assistant volleyball coach.

Here are a few things to know about Shaney before you meet her in person in October.

She played volleyball collegiately and professionally. Shaney was introduced to the sport as a teenager, played at the University of California, competed professionally in both beach and indoor volleyball and put her leadership skills to use along the way.

“When I went to Cal, I didn’t know if I was going to make the team,” she said. “I was a walk-on and I think that’s where leadership came in. I willed my way onto that team and into a leadership role, which helped keep me there. I know how to be a good teammate. I know how to make it if skill doesn’t get me there, and I know how I’m going to add value to the group. Being a leader got me there and kept me on [the team] as I developed and caught up with the others.”

Before that – there was baseball. “I was terrible. I was in Little League. My brother was playing on the team and my dad was coaching. They had the rule where you had to play two innings, so I played the two innings in right field and that was it. It was brutal but it was fun.” (She had so much fun she played another seven years.)

She’s still a fan of ballpark food. Shaney grew up in Los Angeles and frequently attended Dodgers games with her dad. She developed a taste for ballpark food that others might find surprising.  “I love baseball food – all baseball food. No matter how fancy the food is I’m always going to get a hot dog with mustard and relish.”

Shaney will be part of a panel discussion that dives into the correlation between sports participation and business leadership, which includes understanding what motivates your teammates.

“Different people react to supportive feedback and constructive feedback. Some people can’t stand being complimented and some people can’t stand being criticized. You can see that in how you play. I think playing doubles in volleyball was the hardest. It was easier with bigger teams. The dynamic between the two people is the most profound because if you’re not supporting the other person you’re done.”

That’s one of the insights Shaney will share with the audience. I’d love to see you there! Make you sure reserve your seat and register here.