It’s a game night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, and Lauren Withrow can’t stop.
In the first half, she introduces the DJ spinning tracks above the Northwestern student section. A few minutes later, she’s down on the floor hosting a half-court shootout. And then a race in which students don sumo suits and shoot layups.
For the in-arena host of Northwestern men’s basketball, this is the easy part.
“I love interacting with the fans and seeing all of our student-athletes,” said Withrow MSJ ’22. “They hand me a script, but the role keeps me on my toes. More than anything, it’s just fun.”
In her day job, Withrow serves as the assistant director of creative content for Northwestern football, providing year-round exclusive coverage on the Wildcats’ social media channels. She doubles as the team reporter, roaming the sidelines on football Saturdays as part of the WGN radio broadcast.
Across Twitter and Instagram, Withrow has created everything from sit-down interviews with each of the team’s seniors to a video breaking down the 2023 recruiting class.
The dedicated team reporter is becoming more common on teams across the professional and college ranks, and now Northwestern has followed suit.
For Withrow, creating a role from scratch is nothing new.
A year ago, while finishing her master’s degree program at Medill and covering the Wildcats for FanNation, she was approached by a representative from the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The organization sponsoring the Northwestern football game in Ireland enlisted Withrow to help promote the game against Nebraska on social media.
“Then I proposed the idea of working as an in-game host in Dublin, which was something they’d never had before,” Withrow said. “I pitched the idea to Aer Lingus, and they ended up hiring me to cover all the different events for Northwestern and Nebraska that week. And on Saturday, I was the in-game host.”
As she continued to interview members of the Northwestern football program in her role with Aer Lingus and as a student, Withrow became a familiar presence around the team.
“Eventually, that lead to a conversation that was basically like ‘Do you want to just do this for us?’” she said. “My job didn’t exist before. It all started there.”
She spoke with head coach Pat Fitzgerald and other members of the team to help understand how she could elevate the program’s social media presence. Withrow has embraced the opportunity that comes with being first in the job.
“There are so many wonderful things about this program and so many incredible things about these guys that people on the outside don’t know,” she said. “But I do. And I can be the one to share those stories even if we don’t win on Saturday.”
Withrow’s job doesn’t stop when the football season ends. Recently she released a video on National Signing Day and continues to cover the Wildcats in the off-season.
But as basketball host, she’s staying extra busy this winter as Northwestern fans begin to think of March Madness possibilities.
“I’m at football from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then I’ll go over to Welsh-Ryan at 8 p.m.,” she said. ”So, I’m on campus all day. But doing these hoops games is a chance to just have fun. I always leave happy.”
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Austin Siegel is a writer for the Division of Student Affairs.