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'Unapologetically girls in sports': OHIO senior gains experience interning at ESPN Cleveland

Ysabela Ao is passionate about sports. The Ohio University College of Business student is also motivated to create a space for fellow women interested in working in the sports industry.

Ao is an international student from the Philippines studying marketing and business analytics. She transferred to Ohio University in Spring 2022 after studying in Australia at Monash University for more than a year.

Over the summer, Ao had the chance to intern with ESPN Cleveland. She attributes the College of Business and the Business Academic Advising and Career Services (BAACS) for helping her find the internship and preparing her for the opportunity.

Ao at her internship at ESPN Cleveland
Ysabela Ao at her internship with ESPN Cleveland.

“The College of Business is great and has the most amazing support system,” she said. “That’s how my love for sports media started.”

She attests to the skills that she gained from OHIO that she brought with her to ESPN Cleveland.

“I feel like the College of Business is amazing when it comes to molding their students into becoming those professionals that are ready for the world,” Ao acknowledged.

Throughout the summer, Ao has gained experience with broadcast, advertising and sales. She was also able to attend Cleveland Browns training camp and practice her sports photography. One of her favorite projects was getting to work on the Moving Business Forward campaign, a partnership between ESPN Cleveland and the Cleveland Cavaliers to help support small businesses.

“They make sure you’re very well-rounded,” she described of the internship program.

Watch a Day in her Life

Ao has made the most of her time at OHIO. She serves as the media and marketing director for OHIO Division-ll Hockey team and the director of marketing and social media for the College of Business Emerging Leaders program. 

The hockey team is a completely student-run organization, which allows students to gain valuable experience running the operation and enjoy the comradery of working as a team.

“Hockey was one of the first sports I watched at OU. I really fell in love with it,” Ao said.

Ao hopes to give back to fellow women who want to get involved with the sports industry. This semester, she is founding the Sports Girls Club at Ohio University. 

Ao take photographs during the Cleveland Browns training camp.
Ysabela Ao takes photographs during the Cleveland Browns training camp.

“I just want to create a space where women feel empowered, where women feel safe to be themselves, unapologetically girls in sports,” Ao said.

She hopes the club will serve as an outlet for engaging conversation and fellowship across students of all majors.

“I’m creating a community of women who want to work in sports, whether that be creatives, journalism, broadcast," Ao said. "I want everyone to have equal access to opportunities and just give everyone that space for dialogue, talking about how hard it is and just girls supporting girls in sports.”

“Something that has always been repeated to me since I got to OU is ‘Bobcats help Bobcats,’” Ao reflected, which is just what she hopes to do. 

August 24, 2023
Jordan Schmitt