By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE – The latest University of Virginia student-athlete to land a summer internship with Nike has been living in the Deep South since late May. Most Nike interns work in Oregon, where the company is based, but some are sent to other parts of the country.
For Carly Feyerabend, a high-jumper on the UVA track & field team, that’s meant a summer in Birmingham, Ala.
“It’s a fun city,” Feyerabend said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I was really impressed. I’m staying downtown, and it’s getting young and energetic. People are moving down there and restaurants are opening and stuff like that. So I think I’m here at a really good time.”
UVA sprinter Kiana Hairston, then a rising senior, had an internship last summer with Nike in Oregon. From her teammate, Feyerabend said, “I’d hear really awesome things about it. And I’ve always loved Nike and worn Nike, and I thought it would be such a cool opportunity, so I was definitely looking out for it when [the application period] came around.”
Hairston “helped me, walked me through the process as I was doing interviews, so that was great,” said Feyerabend, a high jumper who’s a rising senior at UVA.
That Nike, which outfits most UVA teams, selected Feyerabend did not surprise Bryan Fetzer.
“She’s upbeat, she’s a leader, she’s got a very dynamic personality,” said Fetzer, director of Virginia’s track & field and cross country programs. “She’s been a pleasure to work with.”
Feyerabend’s title is showroom sales assistant. Her focus is Nike’s account with Hibbett Sports, a sporting goods retailer whose headquarters are in Birmingham.
“We kind of collaborate to decide what they’re going to be selling for the upcoming seasons,” Feyerabend said, “and we have a really good space where we get all the samples in. They come in for meetings throughout the year. I’ve already been here for probably three or four of them. We show them the new gear that’s in for the new season, and then we kind of collaborate to decide what merchandise will best serve their consumers.”
The skills she employs as an English major have proven useful for Heyerabend, whose internship runs through Aug. 16.
“Especially with the project I’m working on right now, I’m doing pretty much all writing,” she said. “I’m drafting letters that are going to cross country coaches who are around Hibbett’s stores, and store managers, explaining the new products and generating buzz around the new products that they’re getting.”
A graduate of Atlee High School in Hanover County, outside Richmond, Feyerabend grew up surrounded by blue and orange. Her maternal grandfather and her mother are UVA alumni.
“She’s a lifelong Wahoo,” Fetzer said.
Feyerabend said: “It was always my dream school since I was a kid, because I grew up going to all the football games and everything. It was definitely the only school I was thinking about as I got older.”
She has a twin brother, Jay, who attends William & Mary. (The siblings share their birthday with their father and his identical twin.)
Her brother considered UVA, Feyerabend said, “but when it came down to it, I think he wanted to do something a little bit different, just because my whole family had gone to Virginia, and he was excited to do something new.”
Being apart from her twin isn’t always easy, Feyerabend said, and there are “definitely times when I wish we were at the same school, but we’re close enough that we get to visit, and I think it’s good for us to have our own experiences in college.”
As a seventh-grader at Chickahominy Middle, where her coach was David Water, Feyerabend launched her high-jumping career. A year later, she set the school record in the event, “and that was when I realized it was something I could be good at,” Feyerabend said.
“But I also played tennis in the spring, and I did that through my junior year of high school. It probably wasn’t until the end of my junior year of high school that I really thought [track & field] was something I’d pursue in college.”
A seven-time all-state selection at Atlee, where her coaches were Jim Triemplar and Nick Robinson, Feyerabend competed in the high jump, the 100-meter hurdles, the 200 and the 400.
“I did a little bit of everything,” Feyerabend said.
She committed to UVA early in her senior year at Atlee and enrolled in the summer of 2015. Her experience at the University has “honestly been better than I could have expected,” Feyerabend said. “I still feel lucky every time I put on a jersey, because it’s all I’ve ever wanted, and being here and doing it, I still feel lucky doing it every day.”
In track & field, she’s primarily a high jumper, and at the ACC outdoor championships she placed eighth in that event in 2016, fifth in 2017, and sixth this year. At the ACC indoor meet, Feyerabend finished eighth as a sophomore and ninth as a junior.
Feyerabend, who has cleared 5 feet, 8 inches, is not the most gifted jumper Fetzer has coached. But her poise under pressure, he said, separates her from many of her peers.
“Emphasizing how high she jumped is not nearly as impressive as how high she placed, if that makes sense,” Fetzer said. “It’s about getting it done when it counts, and she has gotten it done when it counts.
“In championships, it’s not necessarily about the performance, but the place. Where other kids kind of falter in those situations, she’s performed.”
Feyerabend said: “At the conference meets, you feel like you’re part of something big, and you’re part of a team, and that’s the first time your team score really matters, and that kind of energizes me and makes me excited to compete. I think I’ve done well at the conference meets, and I did in high school, too. I just love the team aspect, because you don’t always get that in track, but when you’re at a conference meet, you feel the camaraderie.”
The high jump is an event, Fetzer said, on which the Cavaliers plan to place more emphasis in coming seasons, when well-regarded recruits will be joining the men’s and women’s programs. In 2017-18, the only high jumpers on the women’s side were Feyerabend and Gabrielle Hayes, who’s a rising sophomore.
“We are going to score in it on a pretty big-time basis going forward,” said Fetzer, who coaches the women’s high jumpers at UVA.
To stay fit, Feyerabend joined a gym in Birmingham, and she works out in the evenings after completing her Nike obligations. “It’s a little bit tough, because you’re tired after work,” she said.
Feyerabend laughed. “I didn’t realize that was something that happens for real people in the real world.”
Even so, she’s enjoyed her internship and would be interested in working full time for Nike after she graduates from the University.
“I would love to,” Feyerabend said, “and that’s the goal right now.”