Is it possible to mix work and play? It might be if you work for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), where the employees work hard so that student-athletes can play hard. Colton Scott ’15 found this to be true during his time as a summer intern.

Scott recently finished his Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation management in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation. This fall, he is a first year graduate student in Illinois State’s recreation administration program.

Scott’s internship allowed him to do a variety of tasks, including planning games with high school students during the girls’ state basketball championships, overseeing daily operations at the boys’ state baseball tournament, and creating a highlight video to show at the March Madness experience in Peoria. He also completed any other task asked of him, including school mailings and helping in the accounting department.

The variety of tasks helped Scott learn to prioritize: “I wanted to be able to complete everything asked of me, but at times I needed to make sure that certain tasks were completed ahead of others. IHSA is busy year-round, and there is always a task that needs to be completed.”

Scott’s internship supervisor is also a Kinesiology and Recreation alum: Tracie Henry ’05, M.S. ’08, is the assistant executive director at IHSA. “When reviewing intern candidates, two of the most important traits that we like to see from references are ‘work ethic’ and ‘communication skills,’” Henry said. “However, the interns who set themselves apart from the pack are those who are proactive.

“I provide our interns with daily tasks that can be completed when they are not working on a project or assisting with a state final. One of those tasks is calculating mileage for our IHSA officials for their postseason contests. I showed Colton this task during the first week of his internship, and he took the initiative to work with our accounting department to complete this assignment when I was unavailable. I love seeing an intern who shows initiative that quickly.”

One of Scott’s favorite parts of his job was to work the high school state tournaments. “It was great experience to see how much work and effort it takes to put something like that together,” Scott said. “Seeing all of the different roles people play to put on such a big tournament was really interesting. It takes more than administration to make it run smoothly. This internship opened my eyes to how important volunteers can be.”

Henry had some advice for future interns: “When interviewing prospective interns or speaking in a class recruiting interns for the upcoming year, I always encourage interns to keep their eyes open to the full experience. At the IHSA, we work with a number of universities, sport complexes, and arenas that host our state finals. I always tell our interns to watch the ‘big picture.’ As in intern you will be asked to stuff envelopes, fill coolers, count passes, and assist with event setup. It is not about what your task is, it is about can you see yourself here or in a job like this in your future?”

Scott’s current goal is to finish his master’s degree. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to work as an athletic manager of a park district or at a university.