LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The new senior woman administrator at the University of Louisville athletic department has been part of the Cardinal program since arriving on campus 17 years ago from Colorado.
Amy Calabrese, or Amy Seng, as she was known then, wasn't sure what she wanted to do after finishing a stellar run as a four-year starter on the U of L soccer team in 2007. An internship in the Cardinal Athletic Fund sent her on her current path.
"It was so interesting to me," Calabrese said. "It was the first internship I did where I wanted to go to work, if that makes sense, and enjoyed just the atmosphere."
She stayed on as a graduate assistant and has never left, working her way up to now the highest-ranking woman in the department.
"She's worked with life skills, career planning, sport administration, student conduct, housing," U of L Athletic Director Vince Tyra said. "I think she's had everything to manage in the department which has prepared her well for this opportunity."
Calabrese said four people really stand out in helping her get to this point in her career. She sites Julie Herman, who was the senior woman administrator when Calabrese was a student-athlete, former Athletic Director Tom Jurich, Tyra and her soccer coach, Karen Ferguson-Dayes, who is still the Cardinal coach.
"As a sophomore, (she) made me a captain, put me in leadership positions," Calabrese said of Ferguson-Dayes. "And I really feel that she had a belief in me that I didn't necessarily have in myself right away. That experience as an athlete and her mentorship really laid the foundation for me wanting to move into management positions and leadership positions in my career."
"There are players that are special, special players that can change and influence a game," Ferguson-Dayes said. "Very rarely are their special people. And Amy kind of had that special, unique, I call it the 'it' factor. She just had 'it.'
"I could sense that the team absolutely didn't want to let her down."
"I joke with her now, because I'm actually her sport supervisor," Calabrese said, laughing. "So it's the circle of life, Karen."
"At first, I thought 'this is crazy,'" Ferguson-Dayes said. "This is totally crazy. I could potentially have one of the players I brought here fire me."
Ferguson-Dayes said they've actually talked about it, and it's all good. She knows that Calabrese knows what she and her program are all about and that they can be completely honest with each other.
She also is glad Calabrese didn't go elsewhere to get her current role and believes she will be a very successful athletic director at some point.
"She's a rock star," Ferguson-Dayes said. "She gets players. She gets coaches. She gets athletics. So she has a very intuitive feel for what we do day-to-day. She's special. She's definitely special."
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