Written by Carolyn Campion for the Winter 2019 Possibilities Issue of The Bridge
What might the future hold for a Severn field hockey and lacrosse athlete? What are the possibilities? For Josie Owen '08, the answer is sales manager for Nike. Josie has worked in various roles for Nike over the past four years. She started off as the West Coast lacrosse specialty sales representative and more recently moved into the role of territory sales manager for Nike team. In this position, she sells team sports gear — uniforms, practice packs and team apparel — to high schools in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. “My favorite part of this job is building relationships with teams and coaches because sports in high school were such an important part of my life. I feel passionate about this work and it's really fun!”
It Started at Severn
Severn athletics started for Josie in middle school where she played lacrosse and field hockey. She picked up her first field hockey stick in 6th grade! She explains, “I was so bad, but all my friends were doing it so that's how I got into it.”
Josie continued playing both sports in high school. In lacrosse, she was a 4-year varsity starter, a 3-year winner of the Team MVP award and a senior captain. She was also named All-American, Academic All-American, USA U-19 and was a Tewaaraton honoree. Despite these honors, Josie highlights the relationships with her teammates as the most memorable. “High school sports were very special because all of my best friends played with me. Monica D'Ambrogi '08, Kelsey Hughes '08, Becca Steinberg '08, to name a few. We were good friends on and off the field — that's what made it really fun!”
Some of Josie's best memories include playing in two IAAM Championship Lacrosse Games, one as a freshman and one as a junior. She also remembers beating McDonogh. “I think we were one of the last teams to beat McDonogh before they started their 198-game winning streak!”
More than the wins, Josie values a particular coach that made her high school athletic experience very special, Coach Renie Sotiropoulos. She explains, “Coach S was my coach, my homeroom advisor and my history teacher. From freshman year, she was awesome. Honestly, one of my favorite coaches to this day to play for. I learned a lot from her not just about lacrosse but also about being a responsible teenager, having my ducks in a row, and prioritizing things. When I look back on my high school experience, Coach S made a bigger impact on me than anyone else.”Like many of her '08 teammates, Josie continued her standout lacrosse career at the collegiate level. Her path took her to the University of Virginia, where former Severn teammate Lauren Benner '06 took Josie under her wing and helped her acclimate to the college and the team. Josie explains, “Between Severn and UVA, we were teammates for four years. We are still best friends to this day. We live out in Denver together. She has been my rock through college and then after. She has been a good stable force in my life for a really long time now.”
Josie had a very successful lacrosse career at UVA despite an ACL injury her sophomore year. In 2012, she was named Second Team All-American, All-ACC team, All-ACC Tournament team, and was nominated for the very prestigious Tewaaraton Award. Josie led her team offensively in 2012, scoring 77 points. Amidst these recognitions, being named a senior captain was perhaps the most special. “That was a great honor and a great ending to my sports career there.” Josie's academic career at UVA was just as successful and she credits Severn for giving her the foundation for that success. Josie explains, “I loved school, and that started at Severn. At UVA, I was able to explore different topics in a liberal arts setting. I ultimately landed in history, primarily because I love to write.” Josie was grateful to one teacher in particular for teaching her the fundamentals of writing. “I am so thankful that I learned how to write at Severn. I especially remember classes with Dr. Baugh. She was really influential in developing my writing skills which helped with my success in college.” Josie also gave shout-outs to English teacher Mr. Richard Zmuda and history teacher Mr. Marc Buckley for shaping her experience at Severn. All three Severn teachers would be proud to know that Josie majored in history with a minor in media studies.
Building a Career
Upon graduating UVA, Josie knew she wanted to go into sports branding and marketing. She also knew that she needed more training. Josie spent the next two years getting her master's in strategic communications from the University of Denver. It was an easy move for Josie. Her dad lived in Colorado along with good friends Lauren Benner '06, Allie Frank '06, and Brooks Laufman '06. Still connected to lacrosse, Josie was a volunteer assistant for the women's lacrosse team while she was at DU.Josie's first job out of graduate school was in the marketing department of Human Movement Management, an outdoor entertainment company that puts on a lot of 5k races, color run races, Spartan races and triathlons. Within nine months, however, a new opportunity came her way. “It was a 'stars aligning' kind of moment. A UVA lacrosse alumna emailed me out of the blue and told me about a West Coast lacrosse rep position opening up at Nike. She walked me through the application process. I got really lucky.”
Lucky she was! Josie stayed in Denver working for Nike in a field she knew backward and forwards, lacrosse. “I sold uniforms and footwear basically, and the territory they assigned me was 'everything west of Florida!'” Four years later, Josie is still at Nike, serving as both the West Coast lacrosse rep and a territory manager for Team Nike. She loves the work she does, especially the market travel where she can build relationships with athletic directors and coaches. The beauty of working for a big company like Nike is that the opportunities are endless.
Looking Toward the Future
So, what might the future hold for Josie at Nike? For one, she wants to explore being on the product side of the business, developing the product from the beginning. “Everyone at Nike talks about making the athlete better and how we can do that with the product we are building. That has piqued my interest.” And, if she's shooting for the moon, she would also like to explore collegiate sports marketing. This role would involve selling the product to one of 23 partner colleges that are fully outfitted by Nike. Josie explains, “That job is decades down the line. Everyone at Nike wants to be there, and so there is virtually no turnover in that role. But, yes, being able to manage our most important collegiate partnerships — that is a very cool area of Nike.”
Despite how far away she is, Josie still feels very connected to her Severn roots. “The next time I am back in town, I want to set up a tour to see the new building and the athletic facilities. They had just built the new gym when I left Severn in '08 so there is a lot I still haven't seen.” Well, Josie, we hope you do come back so we can thank you once again for your many contributions to Severn athletics and cheer you on in your new career!