Updated: Oct. 17, 2020 at 10:20 p.m.
When the final buzzer sounded on men’s basketball’s five-point upset victory over No. 6 Virginia in 2015, a sold-out Smith Center crowd stormed the court in excitement.
Lauren Shear, a junior and an intern for the athletic department’s communications office at the time, was working her first game that night. Shear said she hadn’t attended many athletic events on campus before the upset win, but when she saw the court pack with fans, she knew she wanted a career in sports.
Earlier this month, Shear came full circle, moving on from the athletic communications office becoming the director of operations for the men’s basketball program. She said she will be responsible for the “typical” team travel, scheduling and coordinating food, and head coach Jamion Christian tasked her with helming alumni relations and the team’s leadership and mentorship programs.
She said Christian offered her the position after the two talked about her career goals and what she wanted to pursue next in the sports field.
“Jamion looked at me and was like, ‘Aim higher. You can do so much more’ and started talking about different things that I could potentially do,” Shear said. “He saw something within me that I didn’t really see at the moment.”
Shear, who has two Canadian parents, said her love of hockey pushed her into the sports industry. She added that from a young age, she hoped to one day be the vice president of marketing, communications or public relations for an NHL team.
But as she spent more time working in the athletic department, Shear said she began to develop a passion for student-athlete development. She spent five years in the athletic communications office, taking the communications associate position after graduating with a communications degree in 2017.
“Working at GW a lot, I really got to know our student-athletes and really love getting to help them figure themselves out and develop them and really enjoy their experience at GW,” Shear said. “I wanted to explore collegiate athletics a little bit more.”
Shear said she worked with about 10 programs throughout her time at GW in her communications role and had the opportunity to develop relationships with a range of student-athletes. But in her new role, Shear said she is most excited about developing stronger relationships with one team.
“To have the opportunity to really dial in and just work with one team and build really strong relationships, to me, that’s the part that makes my job worth working – getting to work with our student athletes,” Shear said. “That’s what I’m most excited about.”
She said she anticipates some challenges, like booking flights or bus trips for the first time. But she added that she has a strong support system on the coaching staff in assistant coaches Ryan Devlin and Graham Bousley – two former directors of operations.
Christian also connected her with Justine Miller, a director of operations under Christian at Mount St. Mary’s when he helmed the program. Shear said the two talked about Miller’s organizational techniques and how she handled the workload.
Shear said being the only woman in an all-male program is nothing new – she was the only woman in her previous role with the athletic department and one of the few game day media relations staff members for the Capitals.
“But I feel like I’m able to learn a lot from them,” she said. “And then understand the importance of how I can be a role model for all these men around me, but for other women in the industry.”
Belle Long contributed reporting.