John Curley Center for Sports Journalism

Super Bowl LIV

Students embrace opportunities at Super Bowl

Super Bowl team of students

She’s four months shy of graduation and not about to stop adding to the experiences that have shaped her college career.

Carly Fried is not alone, either. Fried, a senior advertising/public relations major, was one of nine Penn State students who worked for the NFL or a media outlet during Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

“I’ve tried hard to make the most of everything Penn State has to offer, and this is just another amazing opportunity,” Fried said. The New York City native said she picked Penn State because of its big-school opportunities when she was making her college choice four years ago. “My goal was always a career in sports and this has been the perfect place to make that happen. Hopefully this is another step toward that goal.”

Fried was one of three students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications who worked for the NFL itself during the week. She assisted with the league’s media and public relations team as part of what has become an annual opportunity for standout college students. Others in the group were: Jordan Kalfon, a junior journalism major from Herndon, Virginia; and Mackenzie Rizzi, a senior journalism major from Metairie, Louisiana.

Four other students covered the game and all that surrounded it as part of a partnership with the Centre Daily Times and McClatchy Newspapers. That group of journalism majors included: junior Jake Aferiat, from Hillsdale, New Jersey; senior David Eckert, from Hawley, Pennsylvania; senior Ally Lutter, from Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania; and senior Hannah Mears, from Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

That quartet was working under the direction of John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. A longtime Associated Press editor before joining the Penn State faculty, Affleck has led student working groups on assignment to Cuba, England, Brazil and Ireland in the past. A separate group of students will travel to Tokyo this summer to cover the Paralympics as part of a partnership with the AP.

Two more Bellisario College students broadcasted from Radio Row before the Super Bowl and provided postgame coverage. Senior journalism majors Will Desautelle, from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and Zach Kaplan, from Needham, Massachusetts, were working for CommRadio, the internet-based student station housed in the Bellisario College.

Both students have completed a variety of internships and earned other important skills-building opportunities during their undergraduate careers. Still, the Super Bowl topped the list for both.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to be in Miami for the week,” Desautelle said. “It's been a lifelong dream of mine to go to the Super Bowl, so to be able to cover the event all week as an aspiring sports journalist will be an incredible experience.”

"I'm excited to be down in Miami, and I think this will be a great opportunity for our station to show what we can do with six hours of live programming from Radio Row," Kaplan said.

Along with the students, Penn State’s contingent at the Super Bowl included many communications alumni.

At the NFL, Michael Signora serves as senior vice president of football and international communications, Jonathan Barker is the head of live event production and operations, and Kenyah Jordan-Jackson is a publicist for the league’s youth football efforts. Plus, NFL Films includes dozens of Penn State alumni. Many of those people were on site, including senior producer Shannon Furman who was working on a feature for Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” during the week.

The director of Fox’s television broadcast of the game, which was viewed by more than 100 million people, was alumnus Rich Russo. Numerous Penn State alumni were part of the overall media contingent, and Katie Kemmerer, a former community outreach assistant who was promoted to event support coordinator, works for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Penn State had an on-field presence as well. Five players on team rosters for the game played football for the Nittany Lions — kicker Robbie Gould and defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Anthony Zettel for the San Francisco 49ers, and offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski and defensive back Jordan Lewis for the Kansas City Chiefs.