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Former Shocker, Alumni Association director bowled over with new job

10:19:05 AM CDT - Thursday, September 25, 2003

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Connections made while doing a required internship as a WSU student have led Nikki Epley to a job with one of the sports world's most prominent events.

Epley, who worked for the Alumni Association as director of events for the past two years, left WSU earlier this month to become director of events for the 2005 Super Bowl, being held in Jacksonsville, Fla.

So how does a Valley Center native get a job with football's premier event? It's all in who you know. While working on her master's degree in sport administration at WSU in the 1990s, Epley did a required internship with the Wake Forest University athletics department. Her boss at the time was Michael Kelly, who is now president of the 2005 Super Bowl event. As he put together his staff he called upon Epley and another former intern.

"Michael told me it's not every day a Kansas girl works the Super Bowl," said the 32-year-old Epley, the day before she hopped into her car with her dog for the 21-hour drive to Jacksonville.

"I love Wichita State," said Epley, who played softball for the Shockers as an undergraduate. "I hate leaving but it's for a good thing."

As director of events, Epley will be working with different businesses around the Jacksonville area that want to hold Super Bowl-sanctioned events. Usually about 200 sanctioned events are held in the months leading up to the game.

"The economic impact is so huge for the (host) city that they begin events already," Epley said. She'll also coordinate five major events held by the host committee, including a sponsor VIP party and a party for the 3,000 to 4,000 journalists who cover the event. She'll also work with National Football League staff on two major events the league holds in conjunction with the AFC/NFC championship matchup.

Super Bowl staffs are hired in each city hosting the event, so Epley's tenure with football's pinnacle event is only a 20-month appointment.

"I have no idea where it'll lead but I'm not worrying about that. I'll just enjoy the experience," said Epley, who notes she "got fortunate with the location" in sunny Florida.

And who does this avid Green Bay Packers fan hope to see in the bowl game? "I'm hoping for a Packers/(Kansas City) Chiefs Super Bowl. That would be the ultimate."



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