UW employee, Yelm grad reflects on athletic season she’ll “never forget”

‘This was one of the coolest experiences I’ll ever have.’


Hailee Roe, a Yelm High School 2015 graduate, played a huge role behind the scenes in the University of Washington’s most successful football season since the Huskies’ 1991 national championship season.

After she graduated from Yelm High School, Roe attended Gonzaga University in Spokane and earned her undergraduate degree in sports management in 2019. She then attended the University of Washington in 2020 and earned her master’s degree in intercollegiate athletic leadership.

“I still wasn’t sure of exactly what I wanted to do, so that’s why I did two (internships). At Gonzaga, I started in the communications office my junior year working with the sports information directors over there doing game notes, updating websites and rosters and stats,” Roe said. “When I left Gonzaga, I wanted to try something new at grad school and that’s when I got into [sports] operations.”

Roe currently works as Washington’s assistant director of communications for UW, a role she began in March of 2022. Along with football, Roe works with the university’s women’s softball and men’s soccer programs.

“With my role in softball and men’s soccer, it’s a little different than what I do with football. With those two, I also run the social media accounts, but with football, I do stats, website updates and roster updates. The biggest role within football I do is coordinating interviews.”

In 2023, Roe had a busy season. Primarily, she worked with media to pitch story ideas or coordinate interviews and provide background information. She also set up the press box on game days, she said.

“One of the favorite things I did [last] year was when we had some different College Gameday features. I worked a lot with ESPN and our student athletes to coordinate their schedules for interviews and photos. It was really cool because that was my first time working with College Gameday,” Roe said. “We also hosted College Gameday at home against Oregon, and we had such a great turnout.”

Following the final Pac 12 football championship game on Dec. 1 in Las Vegas, Roe’s work schedule became incredibly full. Her agenda included the college football playoff selection show on Dec. 3, the announcement of the Heisman award finalists on Dec. 4 and a trip to New York City from in early December for the Heisman trophy ceremony and activities before she returned home on Dec. 11.

During her trip to New York City, Roe was joined early on by Heisman award runner-up Michael Penix Jr., along with two UW staffers. On Dec. 9, the day of the award ceremony, former head football coach Kalen Deboer and former offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb arrived in New York. The two coaches left their roles with Washington in January of 2024.

“The Heisman ceremony was really fun. Being able to experience that and be in New York for a couple of days, working with ESPN, was amazing. I watch the ceremony every single year, never thinking I’d be able to be there in the room. To be there to watch the ceremony was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but hopefully not once in a lifetime,” Roe said. “That trip was jam packed. We were there Thursday and left Sunday. On Friday, we did a couple sightseeing things in New York. We went up to this area called the Edge, it was 100 stories up and you could see the entire skyline. ESPN was up there following everyone around.”

Roe said it struck her on the morning of the Heisman award ceremony when they went to Jazz at Lincoln Center, where the event is hosted, that she was part of something huge for the football program.

“We did a walkthrough there on Saturday morning, and just sitting in that room and seeing the trophy on the stage — it hit me that we’re actually at the Heisman ceremony. It was a team goal all season to try and get Michael (Penix Jr.) there, and to see it come together was incredible,” Roe said. “I hope for him that it was a really special moment as well. I’m lucky I got to be a part of that.”

Roe said she also met several former Heisman award winners at the ceremony in New York, including former Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow.

After returning home, Roe and the communications team prepared for the Sugar Bowl, which included an ESPN media day with athletes on the Huskies football team. Washington departed for the College Football Playoff semifinal game in New Orleans on Dec. 26, and Roe said her time in the Big Easy included coordinating UW’s media days, along with a 45-minute media session with the entire team. She also coordinated DeBoer’s press conference with the media prior to the bowl game.

“In the days leading up to the [Sugar Bowl], there were a lot of interviews with local media and national media,” Roe said. “I don’t want to think about how many interviews I scheduled during that time.”

After Washington’s 37-31 victory to earn a spot in the national championship, Roe dealt with a seven-day turnout that included coordinating more athlete interviews with ESPN, along with a media day in Houston, Texas, prior to the contest. Along with those duties, Roe still managed to update statistics, game notes and information on Washington’s football website.

“It’s one of those things where you come into the year and the program’s goal is to make it to the national championship, and we give it everything we have to get to that moment. Once we got to the game, we realized this is everything we worked for,” Roe said. “Obviously we wish the results would’ve gone the other way, but this was one of the coolest experiences I’ll ever have. This season, too, I’ll never forget it.”

Roe said UW has always been somewhere she’s wanted to work, noting her family has held Husky season tickets for years. She said she was inspired to work at the university someday while going to games in middle and high school.

“I didn’t think it’d be my first full-time job as it ended up being,” Roe said. “I’m truly thankful for all the opportunities my career has brought me.”

Roe said she really enjoys her current job with Washington right now but eventually wants to do something different.

“Eventually, I don’t know how far down the road, I’d like to be the head of a department where I’m able to oversee the office,” Roe said. “I don’t know how high up I want to go, but I think the next step I want to take is becoming an associate athletic director to oversee communications.”