A Woman in a Man's World

Jenna Lauf isn't your normal co-ed. The self proclaimed tomboy has taken an unusual road to help pay for her college education. She is the only female on Jeff Hericks' football managerial staff.

While Hillary Rodham Clinton tries to transition from being a previous First Lady to the first female President of the United States, Jenna Lauf also toils in a world previously dominated by males. She is the only female on Cincinnati's football managerial squad. Sure, there are other women as members of the football support group. Bob Mangine and Beth Raitz Rex have a number of young ladies serving as student trainers, but Lauf is flying completely solo as a student manager in a world dominated by young men. And she's navigating through that world quite nicely.

Jenna spoke about the experience. "It's gone pretty well I guess. A couple of the guys give me some crap sometimes, but it hasn't been too bad." One of the tougher adjustments seems to be getting used to the more sophomoric humor of her co-workers. "Working with guys is challenging. They have to make perverted jokes." But her colleagues have also helped her. "They've taught me more about football, and they've helped me learn how to throw the ball. I could always catch, but I couldn't throw."

The most veteran student manager is T.J. Weil, who's in his fourth year, but this is his first experience working alongside a female. He seems to like it. "It's worked out pretty good. It was a little weird at first. We were used to sending any manager into the locker room at any time, but we have to be more careful now. She can't be in the locker room when the players are in there."

Jeff Hericks, Cincinnati's equipment manager, has been very pleased with everything as well. "She's been great. She does a great job. The guys treat her like a little sister."

Weil respects the job Jenna has done. "She has to put up with eight guys every day, and she's still here. I thought she might get fed up with all of us and be gone by now, but she's done a good job." Like most teams within a team, there is a lot of good natured teasing, and T.J. says Jenna has more than held her own. "She's come up with some pretty good stuff. We tease her, but she shoots it right back at us."

Hericks explained how his personnel is compensated for its work. "First year managers get 25-50% of their tuition paid. The next year, they move up to 50-75% depending on how much money I have. The third year they can earn 100% of their tuition." Hericks said student managers are supposed to work only twenty hours a week, but they often exceed that amount during the season with unusually long hours on game day.

While at Napoleon High School in Ohio, Jenna was always an athlete and had no interest in being part of the support group. "I always played three sports in high school. I did volleyball my freshman and sophomore years. I did cross country my junior and senior years. I did track and basketball all through high school."

Hericks has had some experience with female trainers when he worked at Toledo, but Lauf is his first at Cincinnati. Jenna explained that she came to Hericks with his wife's recommendation. "My dad worked with Jeff's (Hericks) wife a couple years back, but I've always been a football fan ever since I was little. My dad has made me kind of like a jock. I have a twin brother so I went to all guys basketball camps and all guys everything my whole life so this isn't too new, but it is challenging." Jenna' twin brother, Bryan, is a freshman at Xavier University.

Jenna says many of her female friends envy her. "They're kind of jealous. I'm pretty close with some of the guys on the team. I consider many of them my friends or even my family. I've spent a lot of time around them. I spent as much as fourteen hours a day with them in the summer." The female student trainers are apparently prohibited from dating football players, but Jenna isn't positive if that policy extends to her as a student manager. "I'm pretty sure the trainers aren't allowed to date the players so I take that as me too, but I'm not sure." Being around the football players is one of the perks of the job. "Some of them are pretty cute, but we'll keep that a secret."

The experience has been good enough this season that Jenna plans to return next year. "I'm pretty sure I'll do it again next year, but the guys do tease me and say that I'm not as hard a worker because I can't lift some of the stuff. It's definitely made me have tougher skin over the last few months. If I didn't, I wouldn't survive out here."

Jenna has done much more than just survive. She's earned the respect of everyone associated with the team because of her hustle and outgoing personality. Weil hopes the program can add more young ladies like Jenna. "It would be great to have some more females. I think the diversity has been good."

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