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Rena Koier Runs Her Show. . . Her Way
Assistant SID Comfortable With UK Position
She's a lady. You can bet on that. And she's in charge. There's no doubt about it. Rena Koier is right at home as the University of Kentucky's assistant sports information director.
That is, she's in control of HER primary responsibilities at Memorial Coliseum. She's not trying to take over from Brad Davis or Russell Rice.
But since she joined the university in November of 1980, Rena has literally turned some heads, not only because she's attractive — just ask some of the people on press row — but also because of her outstanding work performance through the years.
"I don't feel like it's a man's world," said Koier. "I feel like it's a man's and a woman's world. Men and women are different, but I've never felt cheated or discriminated against in any way. I like the way society is."
Koier's main responsibility is publicizing women's basketball. Terry Hall's I^ady
Cats' Pause Columnist
Kats, but she is also in charge of making sure the general public hears about other sports, too, besides football and men's basketball.
"I have to hire seven student assistants each year and assign them to the other sports," said Koier, who took time away from her duties at the NCAA Women's Final Four basketball tournament last week to talk.
Those other sports include men's and women's golf, tennis, and swimming, besides gymnastics, baseball, volleyball and the rifle team.
Helping Out The "Other" Sports
"When I first arrived here, we did very little on the other sports," said Koier. "We only had two full-time staffers and two students. But since then, we've been able to expand our staff and give those other sports that needed exposure."
Koier loves sports. She grew up in Lynch, Ky., in rural Harlan County, in a family of 12 children, including eight boys.
"I'm from a family of sports fanatics," she explained. "Football, basketball, baseball, we love it. I'm right in the middle. There are five older children and six younger ones."
But Koier never had any aspirations to be a sports publicist.
"I used to be someone who would want to write stories for the 'Twilight Zone,'" she laughed. "Rod Sterling was my idol. Now, I can't even stand to watch a scary movie."
Koier was a history buff growing up and she wanted to major in that, but her father wanted her to be an engineer.
"My dad wanted all of us to be engineers," Koier laughed. "He worked for U.S. Steel. He was a superintendent of construction for the Lynch Coal Mining Division. My mother was a school teacher and the band director at Lynch High. I almost went to law school.''
In high school, Koier was president of the Beta Club, a member of the honor society and a homecoming queen. She was on the dean's list in college. She graduated from UK in 1976. Of course, she majored in journalism.
"When I got into college, my sophomore year, I took a creative writing class," she explained. "My instructor told me I should be a writer. He said the most important thing about writing is to know what you're writing about. So I worked for the (Kentucky) Kernel and my senior year worked part-time for the (Lexington) Herald-I^ader." She also took some time off from school and worked for a year at the Harlan Daily Enterprise.
Former Writer For Courier-Journal, Herald-Leader
Upon graduation, Koier worked full-time for a year at the Louisville Courier-Journal and then spent Vh years at the Herald-I-eader, covering high school football and basketball. She also was a columnist for the leader and worked freelance for 10 months prior to joining UK.
During her days as a reporter and columnist, Koier found that she wanted more of a piece of action than being an objective journalist allowed.
"I'm kind of an emotional person," she stated. "It's more fun to be with the team. A sports writer is always on the outside looking in. I wanted to be part of the team. I found I was beginning to care about people I covered. That's not keeping in line with the objective attitude you're supposed to display as a reporter."
Koier's friend, Kassie Kessinger, now an assistant SID at Clemson University, was working as a part-time student assistant covering the Lady Kats and informed Koier that a new position was being created specifically for the team. Koier jumped at the chance.
"I was the first one to apply for it," she said. "I felt like I could help the Lady Kats out more by working for UK than by covering the team for a newspaper. I didn't feel like they were getting the attention they deserve.''
Koier also feels reporters don't get the credit they deserve, either.
"I feel like they take a lot of undue abuse from players, coaches, the administration, fans, everybody," Koier. "People don't understand what their (reporter's) roles are. People think sports writers should be 99 percent supportive. Sometimes, though, you find out things not exactly flattering to the university. Your job is to inform the public and let them decide whether it's right or wrong. Most of the time, though, the general public will believe what a player says before they'll believe a sports writer, anyway."
Two Of Koier's Fact Books Have Won National Awards
Koier has accomplished a lot at UK, and her proudest achievement was when 10,622 fans attended at Lady Kats' contest against Old Dominion University three years ago at Memorial Coliseum.
"We had a great team," she said. "We were ranked sixth. Old Dominion was fifth. I had a goal of getting a record crowd in. And the local media covered every angle that week. I'm happy we were able to do that." She has also won two national prizes for her I-ady Kats Basketball Facts Book, 'Best in the Nation and Best 81 -± by 11 Brochure."
Koier hopes to stay in the central Kentucky area and can visualize the sports information office as getting better and better.
"I think a lot about what my superiors and the media thinks of me," she said. 'It's important."
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