Mary Liebig '22 attends the 2022 NFL Women’s Panel

Mary Liebig '22 headshot

Mary Liebig '22 photo

In March 2022, Mary Liebig ‘22 virtually attended the annual NFL Women’s Panel, an honor only 45 women were selected to receive. While Liebig is a Mathematics major at Rice, she has been taking various Sport Management classes to explore her interest in Sport Analytics.

“I am a Math major but I have definitely been looking to apply it to the sports industry,“ Liebig said. “I was a Political Science major when I started at Rice and then I enrolled in the Sport Ethics class during the Spring 2021 semester. I was like ‘this is the best class I’ve ever taken.’ At some point I realized I like these more than my other classes, but because I was close to graduating, it was too late for me to declare the Sport Management major. So, Dr. (Clark) Haptonstall encouraged me to take some of the department's sport analytics classes.“

Over the course of the two-day NFL event, participants attended panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking activities with executives, coaches, industry experts, and hiring managers. The forum was intended to give participants the chance to learn more about where their experiences could lead them in professional football.

Since 2017, the forum has helped develop a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting women with career opportunities in football, 200 of which have emerged over the past five years.

Featured speakers included three club owners, eight head coaches, and seven general managers. However, Liebig’s favorite speakers were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll.

“Probably the coolest person to hear from was Roger Goodell," Liebig said. “He talked a lot about the NFL’s efforts to hire more inclusively and why those issues are important to him. For me, it was great hearing from Brian Daboll who said that hiring diverse people makes for diverse perspectives, which ultimately leads teams to predicting outcomes better.”

When asked about her future plans for a sports career, Liebig said she sees herself doing analytics for a team or taking analytics to a new sport.

“I think I would really like to do analytics with a team because I would get really invested, and it would be gratifying to watch a team develop and grow with them,“ Liebig said. “In the future, I would really like to work in baseball or bring analytics to a sport that doesn’t use it much, like tennis.”

Above all else, Liebig credits Dr. Clark Haptonstall and the Department of Sport Management for aiding in her success.

“I couldn’t have done it without the Department of Sport Management,“ Liebig said. “They helped me get into the sports analytics classes even though I wasn't a declared major. Clark Haptonstall is by far my favorite Rice professor. He has been very helpful to me and I’ve pretty much taken every one of his classes.“

More information on the 2022 NFL Women’s Panel can be found at this website.

Jen Spell, a senior from Birmingham, Alabama, is double-majoring in Sport Management and Kinesiology