Kelly Dixon '10 (center), a production coordinator for NFL Network, with Mike Shembari and MJ Giovannucci '09, at the Super Bowl
Indianapolis isn’t widely regarded as a big winter hot-spot, but for the past month, the Midwestern city has been the center of the National Football League universe. First as the host city for the New York Giants’ dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLVI, and then as the site of the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine during the last week in February, Indy was the place to be for professional pigskin. It’s also the place that Kelly Dixon ’10 effectively made her second home for the month, working as a production coordinator with the NFL Network.
“I was in Indianapolis for 12 days!” Dixon recalled of her Super Bowl experience. “We have to go much earlier to see through all of the planning we do in advance, and we also stay after the event is over, to pack it all up and see it out.”
Dixon, who resides in Los Angeles, is part of the NFL Network’s production management department. When in the office, her role is tends to be primarily focused on finance, processing invoices and helping to maintain budgets. In fact, Dixon tracked her first program budget this past season, overseeing finances for the network’s popular The Rich Eisen Podcast. For remote events, she and her staff work closely with the operations department on all of the necessary logistical planning – everything from booking golf carts and catering, to organizing the shipment of the network’s gear and loading up a 53-foot production truck.
“We do it all!” said the former Communication and Journalism major, originally from Glen Mills, Pa.
Dixon is not confined to her Culver City, Calif., office, however. On site from NFL Network broadcasts, Dixon works in crew management. During the 2011 football season, she was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions in Canton, Ohio, in August before traveling to four of the network’s eight game telecasts, from San Diego, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Tampa. Not long after working the Super Bowl, Dixon returned to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, where the league’s talent evaluators flock to gauge the talent, speed and agility of the game’s top college prospects, from February 22 to 28.
“I sometimes feel like the ultimate hostess, because it’s my job to make sure everyone is happy and has what they need,” Dixon said of her on-site responsibilities.
While Super Bowl XLVI was broadcast by NBC Sports, the NFL Network’s weeklong coverage included a healthy dose of live television. Dixon helped coordinate coverage of Media Day – the day when Super Bowl hype reaches its crescendo, with hordes of media descending upon the stadium for access to players and coaches from the two teams. Later in the week, Dixon oversaw a crew of more than 100 NFL Network employees, as well as the needs of the 10-person on-air talent group, for its pre- and postgame shows on Super Bowl Sunday.
More locally, residents of Mercer County may recall Dixon’s time as an on-air reporter for WZBN-TV following her 2010 graduation from Rider. Prior to that, while still enrolled on the Lawrenceville campus, she worked as a freelance production assistant for Fox Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN, beginning with the The Worldwide Leader in Sports’ coverage of the 2007 Little League World Series.
During the 2008 National League Championship Series in Philadelphia, which pitted the Phillies against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dixon was stationed inside the Phils’ dugout for Fox Sports. Her duty: signaling to the home plate umpire when it was time to shout “Play Ball!” at the start of the game.
Dixon actually logged some time as a production assistant with NFL Network in 2008, when she worked as a production assistant for their Thanksgiving telecast of the Eagles’ game at Lincoln Financial Field. After her stint at WZBN, she relocated to Los Angeles and almost immediately landed a spot with the NFL Network as a freelance production administrator. Seven months later, she was offered her full-time role.
While she would like to once again be in front of the camera, Dixon says she is simply “too busy working behind the scenes” to pursue it right now – not that she’s complaining, especially after her success in Indianapolis.
“I am just really proud of myself,” she admitted, and with good reason. “This was a huge event, and I was a bit nervous, but there were no hiccups at my venue, and my production manager and I received rave reviews. I was told this was the smoothest year for the stadium so far.”
As hectic as Super Bowl week was, Dixon also managed time for some fun. “I was able to catch some of Madonna’s rehearsals and also got on the field to watch her halftime performance, which was awesome!” she said, adding that all NFL employees were given two free tickets to the big game.
“I invited my Alpha Xi Delta sorority sister from Rider, MJ Giovannucci ’09, and her boyfriend, Mike Shembari,” Dixon explained. “They both also live in California now, but they are also huge Giants fans, so there was no question I was inviting them. They had so much fun and said all their dreams had come true.”