Skating rapidly through the pack, Emily Rawdon ’10, a.k.a. Bourbon Bruiser, uses her seven seasons of roller derby know-how to lap members of the opposing team, scoring points each time she makes it around the circle. As a jammer for Charm City Roller Girls and a captain for Team Maryland All-Stars, Rawdon is a leader. Come Monday morning, she’ll do the same without the helmet, driving the digital footprint of The St. James, a 450,000-square-foot sports complex in Springfield, Va., as senior digital marketing manager. Here are six things you need to know about Rawdon:
She’s worked in sports since age 16, first as a photographer for the Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp. The day she arrived at Colgate, she was hired in the same role by athletic communications. “It was the crash course entry into working in sports,” Rawdon says. During grad school (for business management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst) and afterward, she worked in several facets of media for the Washington Redskins before plunging into her role at The St. James.
She’s self-taught. An art and art history and theater double major, Rawdon uses her degree to form narratives for marketing materials, but every other aspect of her work was learned on the job. When she started with the Redskins, she hadn’t worked with HTML since she used the blogging site LiveJournal in the early 2000s, so she took coding classes in her free time. “The technical side is super different, but when you think about storytelling, it’s not very different at all.”
She markets more than 30 sports, from squash to football, developing the strategy behind each entity. Her work has paid off — the Redskins’ Vernon Davis and all of DC United use the training facility. “Coming onto The St. James’s marketing team and having the chance to create how they are handling marketing, their business policies, and practices, is really engaging and really fun.”
Her favorite aspect of roller derby: its inclusivity. When she started the sport in grad school, she had never skated before. The team helped her through boot camp while providing a welcoming environment. “It’s been a female-propelled sport, but alongside that, it’s been one of the few sports that offers an inclusive and safe space across the male gender identity, non-binary gender identity, and LGTBQIA community.”
She’s on the sidelines too. As director of business relations for USA Roller Derby, Rawdon oversees business strategy, manages communications, and secures sponsorships for the team, among other duties. As head of human resources for Charm City Roller Girls, she makes sure the team’s policies are up to date, that players abide by the team’s code of conduct, and that they each have insurance. Those aren’t easy tasks for a high-energy contact sport. “You have to have plans for if something goes south. ”
Two people who gave her confidence in her career: Associate Professor of Art and Art History Emerita Linn Underhill and former Director of Athletic Communications Bob Cornell. “They impacted me more than anyone else, to the point where I tried out for the U.S. National team to check it off my bucket list. After we were done, I skated up to the coach and said that I work in sports, so they should contact me if they needed anyone. The next day, I got a job offer. I never would have felt that comfortable if it hadn’t been for those two.”