Ride to Remember: Erin Bean Leads Fan Engagement Through Successful Year at Baylor University

It’s been quite the ride for Erin Bean.

(By Jerry Hill, Baylor Bear Insider, Director of Sports Journalism for Baylor University Athletics.)

Coming to Baylor last January as Assistant AD for Marketing Strategy, Erin has had a front-row seat for arguably the best calendar year in the history of Baylor Athletics.

Starting with conference championships in men’s and women’s basketball, she’s also seen Baylor win national championships in men’s basketball and acrobatics & tumbling, men’s tennis make it to the finals in the ITA Indoor and NCAA tournaments, and football capture Big 12 and Sugar Bowl championships to win a school-record 12 games.

Barely two months into the job, she coordinated the downtown Waco parade celebrating men’s basketball’s first national championship.

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“While I coordinated it, it was very much a team effort, it was not just me,” Erin said. “I was the one writing it all down, and logistically, but I think that was one of the first times that I really witnessed how special Baylor is, because it is this huge group that are all same-focused.

“In Division II, everything was reactive, like drinking from a firehose. You could never get ahead. Here, it was just, we have this parade we have to plan and everybody knew what the end goal was and what the end result needed to be. We all just worked our tails off to get there. That was really special to have as my first experience.”

Jovan Overshown, Baylor Senior Associate AD for External Affairs, said Erin “has been a tremendous asset to our team.”

“Her commitment to excellence, servant heart, and fiery ambition have been on full display since she set foot on campus,” Overshown said.

When Erin was tasked with “arguably one of the largest athletic celebrations we’ve had to date,” Overshown said, “without hesitation, she reached out to various athletic and campus partners, city officials and needed vendors to plan an exceptional, record-breaking community-wide celebration. It was incredible – and for me, was just a tiny glimpse into the bright future ahead.”

The team concept she has embraced at Baylor was actually developed as a Division III student-athlete at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

“In Division III, everybody’s student worker-based. That’s their lifeblood,” said Erin, a volleyball student-athlete who got her start in athletics keeping statistics for field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and softball.

Becoming a student assistant in the Sports Information office as a freshman, Erin was surprised that she could actually get paid to “go and watch games and write about them” for the athletics website.

“I’m a creative writer, always have been,” she said. “My first job at Tennessee Tech, I had to learn how to tone it down, to be less fluffy or colorful. Just keep it sweet, keep it simple. I worked for four years for the Juniata Sports Information office. Pete Lefresne was our SID. I had the best experience and elevated myself within the department to be the lead student intern by the time my senior year rolled around.”

Growing up around sports in the little town of Clarion, Pa., Erin’s mother, Gayle, was a college professor and coached the gymnastics team at Clarion University before the program was cut. Erin even sat at the scorer’s table where her dad, Terry, kept the clock at basketball games, “which is probably not allowed, but I definitely did, with my coloring book.”

A three-sport high school athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track, Erin decided to go the Division III route at Juniata because of the chance to compete for championships.

“For me, competing was obviously the highest priority,” she said. “There was a Division I team in Pennsylvania that would make it to the NCAA Tournament every year, but they would always play Penn State in the first round. I didn’t really want to do that. I wanted to compete for national championships. I loved my experience there, and every year we competed for national championships.”

In a “match made on the court,” Erin met her future husband, Evan Halteman, at Juniata, where he played for the men’s volleyball team.

“At Division III, everyone seems to work everybody else’s sports. That’s how you got your money, by working the games,” she said. “I would work the men’s volleyball games, he would work the women’s volleyball games. That came in handy later, because I’ve always made him work everywhere I’ve gone, whether that was keeping the book or stats.”

After graduating from Juniata in 2012 with a BA degree in communications, Erin spent a year at Tennessee Tech as the primary media contact for volleyball, women’s basketball, and softball.

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“Rob Shabert was my boss, and he always loved when he found small-school kids because they just came in with a little bit of a different edge, a little different knowledge,” Erin said, “whereas at big-time Division I schools, they let their students maybe do one sport and assist in other ways. The Division II, Division III kids came up with a broader-base knowledge.”

Getting married in August 2013, Erin tried to find a job in the Philadelphia area to be closer to Evan’s family but ended up as a media relations assistant at the Northeast Conference in Somerset, N.J. With a daily commute of more than an hour each way, she was the primary contact for volleyball, women’s soccer, cross country, golf, women’s swimming, and diving, and softball.

When her college SID, Pete Lefresne, contacted her about an opening at Saint Leo University in Florida, Erin jumped at the chance to get back on a campus because “the student-athletes are my why.”

“I really missed that relationship and just the buzz,” Erin said. “My husband’s whole family is from the Philadelphia area, so that was a bit of a sell, but I got him to come with me and we were there for 11 months.”

During a year at Saint Leo, she worked as a volunteer at the women’s basketball Final Four in Tampa, Fla., where she met South Florida Associate AD Brian Siegrist. That led to a job offer a few months later as assistant director of athletics communications, working specifically with the Bulls’ women’s basketball and men’s soccer programs.

“Those were the two best teams on the (USF) campus at the time, both in the top 25,” Erin said. “I got to travel to a lot of really cool places and meet a lot of really cool people.”

A defining moment in Erin’s life and career happened in her third year at USF, when one of the other assistant directors, Mike Radomski, died in a car accident at the age of 29.

“It was in October, and we were both in the office late working on our media guides,” Erin said. “He didn’t leave the office until well after 1 and died in a car accident that night. Our communications staff was very close. So, that was hard. It was Homecoming week, so we didn’t even really have time to grieve. It was in that moment that I thought, ‘He literally died for this job. I love my job, I love what I’m doing, but is this really what I want to be doing in 10 years?”’

That was when Erin’s career took a different path, going back to Saint Leo as Assistant AD for External Operations, overseeing the communications staff and marketing GA, and working with campus in development and sponsorships.

“It was definitely a lot of hats,” she said, “but I think I was prepared for it better than anyone could have, because I truly believe being an SID prepares you for any job. You have to work with so many entities. You have to write about so many things, so you know the inner workings of everything. That’s very much what I think I was ready for in that moment.”

After three years at South Florida, Erin initially came to Baylor last January as Assistant AD for Marketing Strategy and eventually added the fan engagement department.

“I think in a perfect world, my vision would be 50-50 on those two really big areas that are under my umbrella,” she said. “I love the branding planning and social media, that’s my bread and butter. I can do that in my sleep. I’m very excited to get back to that side and be able to assist in fan engagement, but really let someone else make it their own.”
Marketing Fan Engagement Big Noon Kickoff 2021

With the hiring of Jonathan Swalley as director of fan engagement, Erin now has a full staff with Amber Corcoran, Matt Rzepecki, and Noah Peterson in fan engagement, Addison Rehling with community engagement & group sales, and Cody Soto as director of social media & digital engagement.

“To see how far we’ve come since that first football game to now, just every day getting 1% better, and then also seeing how much of a team we are now,” Erin said. “No one is out on an island. We’re all supporting each other and we’re all here to lift each other up. I am so excited for the future and excited to see how much they grow individually in their sports.”

Erin is convinced that God “intervened and led me here.”

“Everyone always asks, ‘Are they really that family? Are they really that vibe?”’ she said. “And they just are. . . . It’s been a great move for our family, and it’s meant a lot to us, the support that we’ve gotten from everybody.”

More of a behind-the-scenes type person, Erin said her “end game” would ultimately be more in the No. 2 role rather than an Athletics Director position.

“I feel like I’m an excellent support system. I can run a ship and make sure things get done without having to elevate to that next level,” said Erin, who’s 32. “I don’t love the spotlight. I want to be the person that says, ‘Yeah, you go in front and deal with all the media. I’m going to be over here making sure the relationships are maintained, that we’ve got everything going on, that our team is happy.’ That’s where I think my strengths are.”

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(This article originally appeared on baylorbears.com and has been republished with permission from Baylor University Athletics)

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