New Perspective: Former UNK student-athlete Haley Schall completes internship with MIAA

UNK graduate Haley Schall, left, recently completed a six-month internship with the MIAA. (Courtesy photo)
UNK graduate Haley Schall, left, recently completed a six-month internship with the MIAA. (Courtesy photo)

UNK Communications

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Haley Schall competed in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association as a student-athlete.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney graduate was a sprinter and long jumper on the Loper track and field team for five years. She ranks inside the top 10 in program history in four different events, including second in the indoor 60-meter dash, and received numerous academic honors from the conference.

“I had such a great experience competing as an athlete in this conference,” Schall said. “The MIAA is such a strong force in Division II, and I know every AD and every coach would say it’s the most competitive DII conference in the country. I also know that the MIAA supports all of its member schools. Everyone speaks so highly of this conference.”

A former community relations chair for the UNK Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Schall earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences in spring 2022 and a master’s degree in kinesiology and sport sciences with a sports administration emphasis in summer 2023.

She recently completed a six-month paid internship with the MIAA, allowing her to see collegiate sports from a new perspective.

Based at the MIAA headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, Schall worked alongside five full-time staff members while promoting the conference’s member institutions, assisting at championship events and strengthening community partnerships.

“It was really cool to be behind the scenes and see how everything comes together,” she said. “I already knew the MIAA was super supportive, but I got to be part of that support and experience events in a completely different capacity.”

As the spring intern, Schall had a hand in numerous activities. She conducted research, compiled reports and created graphics for social media. Schall also helped design a billboard promoting the men’s and women’s basketball championships.

Outside the office, she was on site for the MIAA championships in basketball, golf and indoor and outdoor track and field. That part of the job turned out to be pretty difficult, since she wasn’t allowed to cheer for a specific school.

“As a teammate, I was a really loud cheerer and super energetic, so it was hard to restrain myself and not show a bias for UNK,” she said with a laugh. “I wanted to be back in that competitive mindset and be out there with them, so I often had to just bite my tongue and watch.”

Because the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are hosted by the MIAA – instead of a member school – Schall played a bigger part during those events. She assisted with setup and teardown at Kansas City’s historic Municipal Auditorium and had a hands-on role all five days.

Schall also attended a variety of networking and community partnership events, from parades and miniature golf to weekly interactions with people served by the Heartstrings Community Foundation, a nonprofit that provides job opportunities for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“Those individuals visited our office every Tuesday, and it was the highlight of our day,” Schall said. “They’re pretty awesome.”

The MIAA internship concluded June 7, and Schall had opportunities to remain in Kansas City. However, that’s “not where my heart is,” she said.

Instead, Schall decided to return to her hometown of Kearney to pursue a career, preferably with an organization that allows her to combine her interests in athletics and community engagement.

“This internship was a wonderful experience and I get to take that forward now into whatever I do,” she said. “Great relationships are the key to any job, and I’m thankful for the time that I got to spend with the MIAA staff. They gave me an experience that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”