Alumna Plays Vital Role on UO Team
When the masses descend upon the University of Oregon campus this weekend to watch the Ducks take on the Nicholls State Colonels, they will park in a lot or at a Park & Ride, enjoy food and drinks at the Moshofsky Center, watch the players march down the central boulevard to the locker room, and then file into Autzen Stadium where they will watch the Ducks play on a perfectly maintained field while they enjoy more food and drinks in a safe environment staffed with emergency personnel.
And, odds are, few of them will think about the people who made it all possible. While Mark Helfrich and his players are the most visible part of the game day experience, in reality there are thousands of people who work together to make sure everything runs smoothly for the fans.
One of the conductors of the green and gold symphony is UO School of Music and Dance alumna Vicki Strand ’90, Director of Events Services in the University of Oregon Athletic Department.
For Strand, football season begins long before the ball is kicked off for the first time. Permanent credentials are issued for 250 people—Athletic Director Rob Mullens, Pac-12 officials, facilities workers, and communications workers among them—a number that pales in comparison to the temporary credentials Strand prepares for people who are approved on a week-by-week basis.
“I’ll do 10,000 credentials during the season,” Strand said. “They go to media, vendors, plumbing, food workers, Red Cross, EMTs, and so on.”
This year the visiting team locker room has moved to a different location inside Autzen Stadium, so Strand also has to coordinate where the team buses park when they arrive, where the players go, and what the caterers need to do to feed them.
Early in a game week, once the TV networks have confirmed the kickoff time, Strand confirms logistical plans and communicates timelines to relevant parties, including full- and part-time staff, medical services, security, off-campus parking, Park & Ride and sanitation services. As seating plans change, stadium maps and the emergency response plan also change, and Strand is tasked with communicating those changes as well.
As the week progresses, Strand coordinates recruits’ schedules, making sure they knew where to go, what they can and cannot do, and where they need to be in case of inclement weather; handles the logistics for any new sponsors that have come on board; and coordinates parking, electricity, camera positions, and infrastructure for the TV network and Skycam broadcasting the game.
Game day itself is no less hectic.
“I’m on site at least seven hours prior to the game,” said Strand. “I need to be on site when TV arrives. They need stadium access, I open the press box for them, and I check in with the on-site staff to make sure they have everything they need.”
Four hours before the game begins, she opens the parking lots and checks to make sure everyone is parked where they’re supposed to be. When the game begins, and the fans are in their seats cheering, she is in a special room inside the stadium with stadium operations and security staff, monitoring closed circuit TVs for any incidents or emergencies. In the event of a medical emergency, she checks the section of the stadium the incident happened in, and the traffic flow around the stadium, and helps emergency personnel find the quickest route in and out.
When the game ends and the fans are leaving to head home, Strand is still at work. She remains behind up to two hours after the game, until the last fans have left the suites. Only then, long after she arrived on campus for the day, does Strand finally head home.
And first thing Monday morning, the process begins anew.