Article by Nick Knopik, contributing writer and former assistant director of leadership and service / Portraits by Liz McCue, assistant director of communications and media relations
Grace Schroller adjusts her headphones and looks at the producer sitting to her right as he counts down from ten.
She moves closer to the microphone mounted to the desk in front of her. She subtly twists side to side in her chair - the only sign of her nerves - as the cameras begin recording and the microphones go live. Her bright red St. Louis Cardinals t-shirt perfectly matches her surroundings, as if, like the studio’s red walls and furniture, she belongs there.
Schroller is beginning her first live radio broadcast of The Doane Sports Project on 93.7 The Ticket. As she delivers her first on-air remarks, she settles in. This moment has been months in the making. She is ready.
Six months previously, Schroller couldn’t have imagined herself on a live radio show. As a first-year business major with an emphasis in marketing, she wanted to get some hands-on experience during the summer, but she was unsure where to search for internships. She met with Stephanie Hemje, the experiential learning coordinator at Doane. Hemje showed Schroller how to search for marketing internship opportunities on Handshake, Doane’s online internship and job portal.
“I applied for three different [internships],” Schroller said. “I got three interviews, and they were all super fun.”
One of her interviews was for a broadcast marketing intern position with 93.7 The Ticket, a sports-talk radio station based in Lincoln, NE. She had three interviews with The Ticket and ultimately got the position.
On the first day of her summer internship, two things immediately stood out to Schroller about the culture at The Ticket.
“Everyone introduced themselves to me and shook my hand. It was all very professional, and they were all very welcoming,” she said. With this early interaction, her anxiety about fitting in with the staff at the station quickly disappeared.
The second thing that stood out to Schroller was a specific instruction she received on her first day at work.
“They told me, ‘Don’t come with a coffee or breakfast or anything. We’ll have that here.’ I was really excited about that,” Schroller said.
The Ticket catered breakfast and lunch for Schroller each of the three days per week that she worked her internship. As a college student spending the summer away from her home in Marysville, Kansas, the free food was a big perk.
“I was on a budget with my groceries, so it was really nice to have the free food option,” she said.
Schroller’s early duties at The Ticket involved assembling schedules for the station’s dozens of weekly radio shows, designing graphics for live streams and social media, and tracking the winners of call-in prize giveaways. She was doing a lot of the station’s creative and logistical behind-the-scenes work, and it kept her busy.
“Almost every day, there was a different graphic or stream to design,” she said. “That stuff took me a while.”
A few weeks into the summer, Derrick Pearson, the owner of The Ticket, came to her with an idea to create a new show highlighting the student-athlete experience at Doane. Schroller, a student-athlete herself, jumped at the opportunity. She contacted other Doane student-athletes and assembled four students interested in sharing their stories in a series of weekly hour-long radio shows that Pearson and Schroller named The Doane Sports Project.
As they discussed ideas for the show, Pearson mentioned that he wanted Schroller to contribute her voice to the Doane Sports Project, too. Schroller is a student-athlete herself and a member of the Doane women’s tennis team. As the only female student-athlete in the group, Schroller offered a unique perspective not captured by the four other male student-athletes.
At first, Schroller hesitated. She was “totally on board to recruit people for the show,” but she wasn’t entirely convinced about being on-air herself. She has always felt like she thrives behind the scenes, not front-and-center, and certainly not on a live broadcast.
“I was like, ‘I’ve never done that before. I’m quiet. I’m not one to be upbeat and talkative,’” she said.
After some deliberation, Schroller decided to say yes to the opportunity. She paired up with Blake Skoumal, a junior on the men’s golf team, and Brady Timm, a junior on the men’s basketball team. Together they created a show called Swish, Swing, Serve.
Their first episode aired on September, 29th, 2023. It was live-streamed on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook and broadcast on 93.7 The Ticket. When the cameras started rolling and the microphones went live, Schroller, Timm and Skoumal introduced themselves and chatted for an hour about their experiences as student-athletes at Doane.
Schroller shared her origin story as a tennis player, a sport she picked up in high school and was naturally talented at. She explained that when it came time to decide on college, a tour at Doane that included a visit with the Doane tennis team made her decision easy. She thought the campus was beautiful, and she was excited by the rapport she witnessed on the tennis team.
“When I went and watched the tennis team play, I liked their team dynamic,” Schroller said during the first episode of Swish, Swing, Serve. “I knew that if I went through this program and I was under my [current] coach’s wing, he would teach me a lot.”
Anyone who has seen Schroller perform on the tennis court or live on Swish, Swing, Serve will quickly notice her quiet confidence. As she reflected on her recent experiences on-air, she pointed out some similarities between her role as a student-athlete and her new role on the radio.
“I always get the pre-match jitters, just because I know that I’m capable of performing well and I want to make people proud,” Schroller said. “It translates over to The Ticket, too.”
In the seconds before going live on the radio, many thoughts run through her head.
“I’m nervous. I don’t want to mess up on air because people are listening.”
In those moments, she reminds herself of a mantra she repeats before tennis matches.
“I earned this spot. I’m good at this.”
On-air, Schroller sounds like a natural. The audience would never guess she has any nerves or anxiety about speaking live on the radio. Schroller admits that before this experience, she was reserved. She worried about what others would think about her if she spoke her mind. She held herself back.
“You can’t show your personality that way on air,” she said. “To be myself and be confident on air is what people like.”
In many ways, the internship with The Ticket transformed Schroller. She returned to Doane in the fall and changed her major from business to media communications with a minor in marketing. She continues working for The Ticket part-time and still hosts Swish, Swing, Serve each month.
In addition to some marketing experience and three months of free food, Schroller gained something from her internship that she can take anywhere her promising future leads her.
“Not only have I grown as a person, but my confidence has grown,” Schroller said.
You can hear Schroller on Swish, Swing, Serve, which will be in regular rotation on The Doane Sports Project at 10 pm CST on Wednesday nights on 93.7 The Ticket or on YouTube. Follow along with @thedoane.sportsproject on Instagram.