Proud to Be a Game-changer. Diversity Matters.

By Denise Thompson posted 02-28-2019 23:43


“When it comes to describing what I want to be in life, it cannot be defined by the words in the Dictionary; instead I challenge the Dictionary to now catch up to me.” – Denise Thompson


As far as I can remember, I have been surrounded by the world of sports. I can remember playing tee ball, basketball and running in track meets by the age of seven years old and having so much fun. Memories like that at a young age are why my passion for sports runs deep.

February is Black History Month and I make it a point to try and highlight all the great achievements of African-Americans today, while remembering the ones who helped shine the light on diversity and inclusion. As the month comes to an end, I figured that I would share why being an African-American SID is something I am proud of.

As I look back on my accomplishments so far in my career, the moments in which I smiled the most were when I was able to see others knock down barriers and do the impossible. Most of the time to do that, you must do what’s never been done before and step outside the box.

As a communications professional, I eat, sleep and drink sports. I work in sports because it’s my first love and why not break down a few walls while I’m at it.

Having lived in three different states and four different cities by the time I finished high school, I learned rather quickly how to make friends and adjust. In between it all, sports was always my mainstay. Maybe that’s why I can move across the United States with ease. I’m not afraid to adapt and try new things to be able to achieve my dreams.

I take pride in being the first woman and/or African-American to achieve something while on my journey in my career path, I just don’t want to be the last.

While in college, I was fortunate enough to see minorities in athletics, as my track & field coach and athletics director were both African-American. When I look back, I can see how because of that I never questioned whether I could be what I wanted to be in life. To me, anything was really possible.

I was the first female and African-American to be named Assistant Athletics Director of Communications at Northern Arizona University, where I worked from 2013-17.

In the fall of 2017, I became the first female and African-American to be named Assistant Commissioner of Communications at the Big Sky Conference. It was a special honor and another proud moment in my journey.

Wherever my career takes me next, I will always remember how I helped to break down the walls and stereotypes of what communications in the sports industry used to look like. The field is becoming more diverse every year and I can’t help but smile because of that.

Don’t let fears stop you from taking a leap of faith. Jump right in.