Staff Spotlight — Meet Sarah Reesman

by Anna Sago

Bright lights. The roar of a crowd. The sound of the marching band and the announcer echoing across the field. These are all things typically associated with Mizzou Athletics.

One thing that might not come to mind? The law.

While Sarah Reesman loved the nearly three decades she spent working in the Mizzou athletics department, she jumped at the opportunity to move to Mizzou Law’s Career Development Office. She is excited to begin counseling students, helping them narrow down their legal and professional interests and find non-traditional career opportunities similar to the one she found in athletics.

After Sarah Reesman graduated from Mizzou with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she knew she was going to attend law school.

“I wanted a professional degree, and that, I thought, was the best for my interests and skills. Just in my mind, I really didn’t think I wanted to practice law,” said Reesman. “It was very unusual, at the time, for people to go to law school already thinking they didn’t want to practice law.”

Though she was not entirely sure what she wanted to do with her legal degree, she took the plunge and enrolled at the University of Minnesota Law School, seven hours away from Columbia and her hometown of Boonville.

Still, she found time to follow Mizzou Athletics and to cheer on the Tigers from afar.

“I had hoped to somehow combine my legal background with something related to athletics,” said Reesman. “But athletics were very different then— departments were much smaller.”

After earning her law degree, Reesman explored a few different career paths, such as working as an agent or with the NCAA. However, she didn’t find good opportunities in a sports-related field. In exploring other options, she feels extremely fortunate to have landed a clerkship with newly appointed Supreme Court Judge Ann Covington, the first woman appointed to Missouri’s highest court and a life-long mentor to Reesman. This experience led to three years of private practice in Kansas City.

Throughout that time, Reesman continued to be interested in collegiate athletics, specifically at her alma mater, Mizzou. So when Mizzou athletics posted a job including the NCAA-mandated responsibilities of Senior Woman Administrator, an initiative launched to include more women in athletics administration, Reesman knew she had to apply.

She was accepted to the position and began what would be a nearly 30-year career in the department.

“I’d like to think that they had the foresight to know the importance of that law degree and what I could bring to the athletics administration,” Reesman said.

As an administrator, Reesman used her law degree to serve as the athletic department’s liaison with Mizzou’s legal team and as a deputy Title IX coordinator. She also worked with the compliance staff, ensuring that Mizzou sports teams and events were up to NCAA standards as well as with personnel matters.

Reesman also cited the legal reasoning, writing and logical thinking that she learned in law school as some of the most valuable skills in her career.

While Reesman loved her time working in Mizzou athletics, she knew she wanted a role where she could be more hands-on with students.

In her new role at Mizzou Law, Reesman is especially excited to work with students who, like her, don’t see themselves practicing law. The term is “JD advantage” and refers to jobs where a legal degree isn’t required but may be an advantage to potential candidates.

“Having a law degree can be an amazing professional asset,” said Reesman. “It can be used in so many ways and across so many fields. I’m looking forward to exploring those opportunities with students.”

On the field or in the legal field, Reesman will continue making a mark on students in her new role.