Hemelt: RA graduate sets sights on top job in athletics

Published 12:04 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sports are a passion in the River Parishes, and they are also a business. Some see the field’s upper echelons as a male-only arena, where women are only occasionally invited.

Thankfully, those times are changing, and it’s because some of our strongest young women are making it so.

LaPlace resident Rae Campbell is one such individual.

The Riverside Academy and Grambling State University graduate is working on her master of business administration at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette, with a pretty serious goal after that. She wants to be athletic director at Grambling.

“I have been working with so many different things and been blessed to encounter so many different experiences,” she told me this week. “That is my thing, to build a résumé so impressive that I can go back to my HBCU and, hopefully, restore Grambling to its natural platform of being a premiere football program having, across the board, 17 or more sports that are on a national level and contending.”

It’s a heck of a goal, one that can’t be accomplished on a wing and a prayer.

Rae has worked in plenty of roles in athletics, transitioning from her days on the basketball court and martial arts competitions to behind-the-scenes responsibilities with USA Football and USA Basketball, not to mention current work in ticket operations for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans.

She worked fulltime after earning her kinesiology degree at Grambling, but the same question kept coming from those who she shared her career aspirations with.

“I waited a year, because I wanted to work a little bit, get my feet wet and see if I wanted to still be in athletics,” Rae said. “It’s a constant grind, and it’s all about connections. What I have learned about connections is everyone asking me, “when are you going to get your Masters?”

With that commitment now made, Rae juggles time between schoolwork, Pelicans duties and plans for USA Basketball, where she will soon help with trial support.

She is part of youth team support, preparing which players will represent the country in international FIBA competition.

It’s nothing new for the first generation college graduate, who recently wrapped up a successful role leading football operations for the U16 USA Football team that participated in the International Bowl.

Coach Bill Volk’s squad defeated a team from Mexico by a 50-0 final, according to Rae, in the home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys.

Rae and her team headed travel, meal coordination, practice set-up and all other itinerary needs for 60 players and numerous coaches. Yes, there were even bed check responsibilities.

“It was a great event, unlike anything I have ever experienced,” said Rae, who also worked in training camp operations for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Her time at the International Bowl brought her into contact with teams from across the globe, where unlikely enthusiasm for football exists from the Nordic countries to Japan.

“We learn that when people come to America, people are supposed to adapt to what we have here, but also, we should adapt to what they have going on and what they bring from other countries,” Rae says. “It works to be multi-cultural. International business is a big thing if you want to be an athletic director. People do business and take in experiences differently.”

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.