Update (Jan. 22)
It didn’t take long for former softball player Tatiana Motevalli-Oliner ‘14 to launch her career in college athletics development. Like most Emerson students, she was involved in her passion long before she received her diploma.
Motevalli-Oliner got her start in Emerson’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations, formerly known as the Office of Institutional Advancement. She began in January of her second semester as a freshman, and worked there for the next three years, including two summers, until she graduated.
“Not a lot of people seek out developmental work,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “The primary goal of development is all about fundraising and supporting student-athletes, and reaching out to get other people, especially alumni, to support athletics monetarily.”
Motevalli-Oliner’s other ventures during her time in school included a major in marketing communication and four years as a catcher on the softball team.
“We spent all of our time together,” Motevalli-Oliner said of her former teammates. “I remember during orientation week, calling my parents and being like, ‘I am not creative enough to be here.’ But the relationship I created with my teammates kept me there and kept me going. There was a lot of camaraderie.”
Motevalli-Oliner’s close friend, teammate, and three-year roommate Bianca Buono ’14, a journalism major, said that Motevalli-Oliner was a true motivator.
“She really knew how to balance everything in her life,” Buono said. “On the field, as a catcher, she controlled the pace of the game, and was very positive. Off the field, she was working at the school, and was always involved.”
Motevalli-Oliner said her self-motivation and relationship-building skills carried over from her years behind the plate into her sports development career.
“Softball is one of those sports where it’s about team, but it’s also individual,” she said. “You need to build a relationship with your team. That’s a lot like my job. It’s all about building relationships with coaches, players, alumni, coworkers.”
Joe Arbeely, a senior administrative associate in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations who worked with Motevalli-Oliner, said she embodied both teamwork and individual work during her time there, especially in her participation with the “EC4Life” program. It facilitates networking between Emerson students and alumni, according to Arbeely.
“Not only did she perform her duties admirably, but she performed them with such enthusiasm and to a level of perfection that she was frequently requested to participate in multiple other projects across our team,” Arbeely said. “She is a superstar.”
After graduating, Motevalli-Oliner moved on to work as the development coordinator for Blue Jays Unlimited as a part of Johns Hopkins University Athletics. This organization manages fundraising for the teams, and Motevalli-Oliner dealt with program sponsorship and alumni relations.
This month, Motevalli-Oliner took a job at Temple University Athletics, and is currently their development associate. There, she works with special events planning and marketing of the Owl Club, the membership program that helps financially support the sports teams.
Although she has moved on to different collegiate athletic programs, Motevalli-Oliner has continued her involvement with Emerson. She works on the Athletic Trust Fund board, which she described as a group of Emerson athletic alumni who have been working to give back to Lions athletes, coaches and staff for the past 30 years.
“We all still find comfort in athletics, and the way that they bring people together,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “We are able to give a lot of support to projects that might not seem feasible from an economic standpoint.”
Motevalli-Oliner listed the various items the trust fund has been able to help with, including the press box and portable fence at Rotch Playground and Field, where the soccer, lacrosse, and softball teams play. They have also funded many trips to various games and tournaments.
Motevalli-Oliner was also a member of the search committee that hired current athletic director Patricia Nicol in 2014.
“There is such a great working relationship between [Nicol] and the athletic trust fund,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “She is a wonderful advocate.”
Motevalli-Oliner defined her career as one that truly benefits student athletes, even though she thinks others wouldn’t find it very desirable.
“There’s nothing sexy about being in development,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “But I can see firsthand what it means to be in the alumni network and how that can change the experiences of student-athletes for the better. We try to connect them with alumni who can support them in their first job, their second job, whatever they need.”
Correction, Jan. 22: A previous version of this article was incorrectly titled "Alumni excels both in the dugout and development," and incorrectly referred to Tatiana Motevalli-Oliner as Oliner.