There is one cardinal rule about working in the press box at sporting events: No cheering, whatsoever.
For Paige Trutna, the challenge of taking off the fan helmet needed some time. She idolized Nebraska athletes, specifically the volleyball team as a kid growing up in Lincoln. Her mom even remembered Trutna as a young ball girl at volleyball games.
Trutna is a 20-year-old student at UNL, who works in the UNL Communications Department, primarily covering the rifle team, but helps out with football, basketball, volleyball and other sports. She helps out with graphic designs, social media and recaps. She is set to graduate from UNL in the spring of 2024. And thanks to a random opportunity, Trutna in many ways considers her current position a dream.
But that almost never happened.
She wanted to attend Dordt University, a private Christian college in Sioux City, Iowa and even considered Concordia as well. The main issue with smaller schools was the lack of journalism opportunities. When UNL dropped the regent’s scholarship offer in Trutna’s mailbox, any doubt left the room. She now double-majors in Sports Media and Communication and Journalism.
Trutna’s neighbor, Scott Bruhn, director of photography at UNL, asked Trutna if she would be interested in working for the UNL communications department. Scott told Trutna to email Jeff Griesch, Senior associate communications director at UNL, about an interview, and the next thing Trutna knew she had an interview to be a student intern.
“I think he hired me on the spot,” Trutna said of Griesch. “It wasn’t really a formal interview, more like a conversation.”
When Trutna first got her job in the communications department, she vividly remembers her first time heading up to the press box inside Memorial Stadium. It was different than any experience she recalled, being able to see things through a different lens, all while having to keep the Husker fandom inside her chest.
“Honestly, I think it’s the coolest thing in the world,” Trutna said. “I don’t ever want to stop working for the Huskers.”
Paige Trutna’s mom, Steph Trutna, said she felt relieved that Paige got the opportunity to work for the communications department in a wide variety, not being tied down to one sport primarily.
“The opportunity to work for Husker communications, in general, came up, and I think Paige is glad she didn’t just get volleyball. She loves all Huskers sports, so being able to dabble in them all caught Paige’s eye,” Steph said.
Paige still doesn’t mind getting to work volleyball games and getting an up-close look for free.
She still remembers being star-struck at the first couple of press conferences she worked. People like John Cook, head volleyball coach, Trev Alberts, athletic director and Scott Frost, former head football coach, made Paige step back a little bit and appreciate how cool her job is.
“I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now, but it is still super cool don’t get me wrong,” Paige said.
The word ‘cool’ is featured frequently in Paige’s vocabulary. But She said it’s genuinely how she feels about her job, and being able to represent her hometown university.
Peeling back the curtain beyond her love and desire for the university, her co-worker Meghan Straub, who oversees the soccer and wrestling teams’ communications, said Paige is a pure professional.
“(Paige) is very responsible,” Straub said. “She is always willing to try new things and is able to take constructive criticism and get better.”
Straub, a former Huskers bowler and a first-team All-American her senior year, got her Masters in Sports Administration after she grew up in Lincoln, as Paige did. Straub was hired as a graduate assistant in the communications department and has stuck with it since then.
Straub said she knows the difficulties of beginning in the communications department. When students first start out, like Paige did with rifle, smaller sports are more student run, and they adapt along the way. Students establish relationships with the coaches and players, so the social media efforts can be communicated with everyone.
Straub said she is happy that her and Paige can connect through Husker sports without the need of the office. Yes, they enjoy doing their jobs as co-workers but their love for sports goes beyond it.
“It’s fun to connect on that level with (Paige), because she loves Husker sports the same way I love Husker sports,” Straub said.
Paige said she’s unsure about her future. It all depends on timing. She said she knows that this job can take her in many different directions, but one thing remains constant.
She doesn’t want to leave the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“This is my dream job and I didn’t really expect it to be,” Paige said.