Women’s History Month: Fenwick Alumnae in Sports

In celebration of International Women’s Day and the beginning of spring athletics season, Fenwick High School is highlighting the work of alumnae who entered the sports field after high school. Many of these accomplished women say Fenwick played a major role in their eventual career paths, laying a foundation for not only achieving professional success but also living well-rounded lives.

From public relations and marketing to journalism and merchandising, these Friars continue to lead, achieve and serve in the world of sports.

Sheena Quinn ‘00
Senior Director of Public Relations
Chicago White Sox

“Fenwick was such a formative part of my upbringing and development,” said Sheena Quinn ‘00, who has served as Senior Director of Public Relations for the White Sox since 2014. “I loved sports, specifically basketball, and the time that I spent in the classroom combined with my team through the women’s basketball program helped me form important value systems, work ethic and lifelong friendships. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in sports, and I certainly think some of those values started at Fenwick.”

The Marquette University graduate handles integrated communications and public relations efforts for the team, including corporate communications, organizational reputation management and multicultural community outreach. She helped launch multiple diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the BasebALL: One Game for All fan campaign and Game Changers, an annual program “focused on celebrating individual differences and inclusivity” through sports.

“Baseball gives so much more to people than just wins and losses on the field. It offers a chance to make memories that you can have forever.”

While her contributions toward diversity and inclusion are among her proudest achievements, “the memory that I will always keep close is creating an extra special day for Friar alumna, Christina (Leonardo) Nelson ‘00, and her family during Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in September. On those days in particular, I understand that baseball gives so much more to people than just wins and losses on the field. It offers a chance to make memories that you can have forever.”

Quinn said she marvels at the impact the franchise has on its fans and their lives. “In my role, there are so many moments during which I am in awe…It’s incredible to see how strangers, pulling for the same team, can sit next to one another and immediately form a bond over a shared love for one organization. I’m fortunate to have earned a role with the Chicago White Sox – the same team that my dad and grandfather loved…I understand that not every person is able to say that, and I’m grateful to be in a position to say that.”

She advises current Friars to “take advantage of every opportunity,” encouraging those interested in pursuing sports-related careers to “gain experience, add to your portfolio and expand your network.” 

“For those just getting started in their careers, I always share some advice that another executive who I admire told me once: Try to be a problem solver, and not just a problem identifier, when you can,” Quinn said. “Be willing to offer a solution and help carry it out…Don’t just point out the speed bumps.”

Colleen Quinn ‘09
Director, Communications & Digital Marketing
United Center

Colleen Quinn ‘09 has spent 10 years working at the United Center, the largest arena in North America. She currently serves as Director of Communications & Digital Marketing, overseeing digital marketing campaigns, communications strategy and execution, campus expansion planning and event acquisition bid development.

The most rewarding aspect of this work is “the variety and limitless opportunity,” Quinn said. “At the United Center, every day is a new day. We could have a Chicago Bulls game one day and a Harry Styles’ LOVE ON TOUR residency beginning the next. Today, I will work on event acquisition for future years of NCAA Championship events at the arena. Tomorrow, I will work on the upcoming media logistics tour in support of the 2024 Democratic National Convention. I’m grateful for the ability in my role to cover such a wide range of the business and strategy.”

As a member of WISE Chicago (Women in Sports & Events), she advocates for women working in live events and coordinated the organization’s first celebration of women in the workplace. She credits her high school experience with paving the way toward these endeavors.

“Fenwick High School’s long standing values to lead, achieve and serve has been the foundation of my path to success in my career. The education, the discipline and the network I developed in my time at Fenwick and the years following has consistently been a pivotal driver for achievement in my career.” 

Her memories of Fenwick also steered her toward pursuing a career in sports after attending Purdue University. “From flying to the east coast every weekend to see my brother play college football, traveling to Southern Illinois to watch my sister [Sheena] compete with the Friars in the IHSA Basketball Championship or running the track with my teammates in preparation for an upcoming meet, sports has always been a major player in my life and upbringing,” Quinn said. “My passion for the world of sports paired together with my learned discipline and work ethic made the sports and entertainment industry the perfect fit for my career.”

Quinn encourages current Friars to “be bold” as they navigate their college decisions and future careers. “Whether it’s speaking up in a room of colleagues that have differing opinions or paving the way to bring an innovative idea to fruition, speak up. The world needs to hear your perspective, no matter the scale.”

Sarah Lorenzi ‘97
Chicago Area Alternative Education League (CAAEL)

Sarah Lorenzi ‘97 and her sister Katie Martin Trendel ‘00 left behind their previous occupations to serve the Chicago Area Alternative Education League (CAAEL), founded by their father John Martin in 1976. He passed away in 2017 after more than four decades helping provide interscholastic activities for at-risk and special education students from several counties in Illinois. Lorenzi stepped in as President and CEO, while Trendel began serving as a program administrator in 2018 after years as Sports Director at the Pav YMCA in Berwyn.

“I felt that CAAEL was my calling,” said Lorenzi, who spent 13 years as a teacher in Oak Park before joining the team at her father’s nonprofit a year before his passing. “I knew I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to help more than just the students in my class. I felt like I needed to step away from my teaching career to run CAAEL alongside my father because he was slowing down, and [the organization] continued to grow organically…it was becoming too large for just one person. I feel so grateful and blessed to have had that time with him, as he taught me all I needed to know about CAAEL.”

CAAEL offers more than 1,000 events throughout the school year, including sports, academic bowls and other extracurricular activities. The organization provides alternative school educators with athletic and educational programming to keep students motivated and engaged during the school day. 

“It gives them an opportunity to be a part of a team, opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Lorenzi said. “Knowing I’m making a difference in this world, all while honoring my dad’s legacy, is incredibly rewarding.”

She hopes current Fenwick students will consider “following your heart” when deciding on a field of study. “If you are passionate about it, the rest will fall into place.”

Karli Bell ‘12
Chicago Sky Reporter
Chicago Cubs Digital Content Producer/Editor

A multimedia sports journalist at Marquee Sports Network, Karli Bell ‘12 launched the monthly program “Chicago Sky: No Limits,” the first of its kind featuring a WNBA team. Producing long-form content about Cubs and Sky players and fans, Bell says her passion for creating sports-related content stems from her years at Fenwick.

“A basketball injury had me reevaluate my career choice…I couldn’t just walk away from sports when I was injured,” said Bell. “I loved speaking and multimedia, so I created what is now Fenwick Television in 2010 to give students an opportunity to get hands-on experience with multimedia before the take off of the social media age. I wanted to create a space that encourages creativity, expression and storytelling while getting early hands-on experience before going off to college.”

The Ohio University graduate said a highlight of her work is “meeting all different types of people from different places and backgrounds and stories…Athletes are an amalgamation of general human society, and I love telling people’s stories and understanding their journey to how they got here. You learn a lot about someone when you just ask a couple questions, and having the opportunity to tell their story is an honor.”

Bell encourages young Friars with hopes of entering sports media to “network like crazy” and understand the unusual schedules and commitments that come with a life in journalism. “I’m insanely blessed that I get paid to watch and talk about sports, no matter what the pay – that is the mindset you need to have if you want to work in sports.”

Laura (Hibbitts) Baller ’02
Credit Supervisor
Wilson Sporting Goods

Though sports were not a central aspect of her Fenwick experience, Laura (Hibbits) Baller ‘02 said her time in high school and participation in Blackfriars Theatre Guild gave her the foundation she needed to take a risk in her professional life.

“My years at Fenwick gave me the confidence to pursue a career that was initially out of my comfort zone. I can’t imagine being anywhere else now,” Baller said of Wilson Sporting Goods, where she has worked since graduating from college. “The amount of enthusiasm and dedication to our brand blows me away every day. Wilson has such a rich history and it’s great to see how far we’ve come and where we’re headed.”

She encouraged her fellow Friar and classmate Megan McInerney ‘02 to join the People & Culture team, on which she now serves as director, spearheading Wilson’s “Inside the Huddle” learning program.

Megan McInerney ‘02
Director, People & Culture
Wilson Sporting Goods

“Building something from the ground up and seeing the impact that the program has had across the company has been incredibly rewarding,” McInerney said. “It’s exciting to work for a company that empowers me to learn, grow, and win.”

“A big part of living like an athlete isn’t even physical – it’s the qualities and characteristics that make the best athletes who they are.

McInerney’s Fenwick years contributed toward this mentality and Wilson’s mission to “empower every human to live like an athlete,” she said. “Playing a sport in high school taught me a lot about being an athlete, and the traits of an athlete – like an innate desire to win and having a team mentality – naturally carry over to the business world, especially when you work in the sporting goods industry.”

She encourages young Friars to “be open minded” as they consider their post-high school lives. “You don’t necessarily have to play sport professionally or work for a team to pursue a career in the sports field. In fact, a big part of living like an athlete isn’t even physical – it’s the qualities and characteristics that make the best athletes who they are. It’s the grit and determination to do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal. It’s acting with integrity, humility, and heart in all that you do.”

Baller agrees, urging current Fenwick students to “be patient” as they continue their academics. “Be dedicated. Feel empowered. You might take some hits, but always get back up. Every pro starts off as a rookie.”

Ashley Beth ‘14
Associate Legal Counsel 
National Women’s Soccer League

Ashley Beth ‘14 spent three years playing for a historic Fenwick soccer team, which eventually  “translated into a dream career in the sports industry.” She now works as associate legal counsel for the National Women’s Soccer League.

“I am part of a small group of individuals who get to dedicate their careers to navigating the unique challenges presented in women’s sports,” Beth said. “The decisions we make at the most prominent women’s professional sports league are shaping the future for women’s sports and for women generally. It is a dream come true, and we are just getting started at the NWSL.”

“Competition, community and achievement were integral attributes of my experience at Fenwick, both in athletics and academics.”

Being a student athlete directly fuels her current work as an attorney. “I have always been passionate about the fundamental attributes of sports – competition, community, and achievement,” the Loyola University School of Law graduate said. “All were integral attributes of my experience at Fenwick, both in athletics and academics.”

Her role at the NWSL “combines everything I love,” a fact she calls “fortunate” but which required “persistence” and dedication, qualities she encourages current Fenwick students to emulate. 

“It took me three years of applying for an internship at the NWSL to be offered an interview. Since then, I have had four different titles within the League in just two years to get to my current position that I desired to achieve…I worked in all levels of athletics in some regard, and used different skill sets in each role.  Be open to taking a position that may not be the ‘perfect’ role.”

Brianna McCormick ‘16
Athletes in Action
Campus Ministry Staff

Brianna McCormick ’16 (second from right) with Athletes in Action students.

As a two-sport college athlete playing softball and running cross country at Roosevelt University, Brianna’s “faith was ignited and built up” through the resources provided by Athletes in Action, and she now serves on their Campus Ministry Staff. The branch of Cru works directly with current college student athletes in “sharing the gospel and helping them develop their faith and walk with the Lord through the context, culture and language of sport.”

Athletes in Action “laid the foundation for me in knowing how to have a relationship with Jesus…within the culture and context of being a collegiate athlete,” she said. She calls their impact “pivotal” to her personal growth, “not only as a follower of Christ but as an athlete and a student in college.”

Fenwick also played a role in her eventual pursuits, combining her athletic career with her faith life. 

“Looking back, I can now see how a lot of these foundations and curiosities about Jesus were sparked in high school by being in an academic setting that put high value in integrating faith into the Friar’s daily life,” she said. “Theology classes, as well as my experience as a peer tutor, revealed my gift of teaching others and having a desire to make God known. Combine those gifts with my love for sports and I truly think the work I’m doing with Athletes in Action is a perfect fit.”

She enjoys “seeing the impact” embracing faith can have on young athletes: “Seeing students strive to live more like Christ is really encouraging..it’s rewarding to be a small part of that process. Playing your sport for God brings a whole new level of freedom when the pressure is taken off of you and your performance. It instead is a reflection of using your gifts to honor God.”

McCormick wants current Friars to “pursue a career path that you enjoy – even if it’s not something you studied or that matches your degree.”

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