Ask an Antelope: Former UNK swimmer Rachael Page looks after Lopers in all sports

Rachael Page lived all over the country as a military brat before finding a home at the University of Nebraska at Kearney as an undergraduate student in the late 2000s.

After graduating from high school in St. Joseph, Missouri, she came to UNK on swimming and academic scholarships.

“I liked the NCAA Division II model where you can be an athlete but also have other experiences outside of athletics,” said Page, who was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, Sports Administration Majors Club and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Three UNK degrees and a few professional positions later, Page is using her education and experiences to help today’s college athletes as the associate director of compliance and senior woman administrator in UNK Athletics.

“I feel like being a previous student-athlete, especially here at UNK, makes me relatable. I may be a little older, but I was once a student-athlete here, so the kids know I understand the grind,” she said. “They will pop in to vent about a hard day or share success because they know I get it.”

How long have you worked at UNK?
I have been a full-time employee at UNK for almost 10 years. I started as an accounting technician. I later worked as the main office associate and then transitioned into the role I am in now. I started as the assistant athletic director of compliance and student services and the senior woman administrator. In the summer of 2021, I was promoted to associate athletic director, still covering compliance and the student-athletes and still the senior woman administrator.

Why did you choose this career path?
I enjoyed my athletic experience, but due to injury it was cut short. I have loved sports all my life and I wanted to find a way to be involved in sports and to work with athletes. Sports administration made sense so I could continue to work and be involved with athletics for the rest of my life.

Prior to my full-time employment, I was an intern for the athletic office and a graduate assistant for two years. I love Kearney and UNK so much that I never really left. This department is like a family and I truly enjoy working with everyone. I wanted to give back to a program and department that provided me with such a great experience.

What are your responsibilities with UNK Athletics?
I wear a lot of hats. My title tells you my two main focuses – compliance and student-athlete services.

Compliance is the rules and regulations of the NCAA, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) and UNK. I make sure our department, teams, coaches and athletes are following and abiding by the rules. I do reports for the NCAA and our conference, keep track of more than 450 student-athletes in 15 sports, make sure everyone is eligible, in good standing academically and ready to compete. I luckily have teammates in other departments who help me keep all the student-athletes straight – Kim Seitler in the Registrar’s Office and Brad Green in the Financial Aid Office. I am grateful for the strong relationships I have with both offices. This part of my job is necessary and important.

Student-athlete services is the fun part of my job. College student-athletes are my jam! My “big kids” are what make my job enjoyable and why I show up every day. I am here to support them. When I tell people about my job, I say I have two biological kids of my own and 450-plus adult children to watch out for.

We have compliance meetings at the beginning of every school year to go over rules and regulations and expectations of being a student-athlete, but also to cover all the ways they are supported on this campus. We have so many great resources for our students, and student-athletes have a few extra resources available to them because of what we offer here in athletics. I always tell them come to me for help with anything, and if I can’t help you, I will connect you to someone else on campus who can.

Student-athletes come to me for advice about picking a career path and what classes to take while balancing their sport. I connect them with tutors, we create academic success plans that keep their coaches involved and I help schedule their programming throughout the year, which includes guest speakers. I also have traveled with teams and driven student-athletes to their competitions when we have had sick coaches or not enough coaches to drive/cover teams going to two locations. We administrators typically try to travel with the teams when they make it to postseason, as well. I sit on numerous committees on campus involving student well-being, oversee the First Step Athlete program for mental health, serve as the SAAC adviser and have even been a stand-in mom at football senior day.

I get to know our student-athletes best through SAAC, which is made up of student-athletes who want to be more involved, seek opportunities for leadership and enjoy community service and getting to know athletes outside of their sport. I love all my student-athletes, but my SAAC kids have a special place in my heart. It is so rewarding to watch them grow as students, athletes and leaders. Our student-athletes are such good humans and I have kept in touch with many of my past SAAC officers and truly enjoy getting to know them over the short four to five years they are here.

Do you still swim?
Competition-wise, I have done a few triathlons, which involve swimming, and that has been enjoyable. I love swimming laps at the public pool in the summer when it is too hot out to go for a run. Getting in the cold pool in the dead of winter is not my jam, but getting tan while doing your cardio at the outdoor pool is so nice. Swimming is an activity you can do for your whole life. It is a full-body workout and so good for you.

Share a fun fact about yourself:
Outside of the office, I love golfing even though I am terrible. Traveling is something that fills my cup. I enjoy hiking when we can travel to the mountains, and I have a little side hustle as a photographer. I have taken a few of my student-athletes’ graduation photos and some of their family photos.