Washington College Athletics Provided Springboard for Alumna, Twice


Karen Perkinson McGee ’84, Rowing, Volleyball

Karen Perkinson McGee

Sports have always been the thing for Karen Perkinson McGee ’84, who grew up loving to watch football with her father. She went to college and majored in economics, but sports helped her choose where to study. And as it turned out, the experience would shape her career. 

“I loved everything about sports—the community, the teams, the friends. I knew I’d miss that if I didn’t play in college,” McGee says.  

She accepted a scholarship from Washington College, confident its small population—just 650 students at the time—would give her the chance to play.  
“As a freshman playing volleyball, I had a team and friends right when I got to school,” says McGee, who felt at home as a student-athlete at a small school. “Sports were a big part of the social aspect, who to walk to dinner with, how you’re identified. Even if your team wasn’t good, the relationships and bonds were formative.” 

Finding the athletic community she’d hoped for, McGee worked with the intramurals program, played softball freshman year, and switched to crew as a sophomore. Only three members of the co-ed crew team had rowing experience when McGee joined, and they needed a fourth for the boat.  

“Everyone who tried for the seat was outpulled by the experienced rowers,” she said. “I was a novice, but I was strong, and was able to keep the boat somewhat straight.”  

The foursome improved, eventually competing in regattas like the famous Dad Vail in Philadelphia.  


Newspaper rowing photo

“It was an interesting and fun experience, and just being out on the river in Chestertown… it was special,” McGee says. 

McGee continued with both volleyball and crew through her senior year, becoming captain in both sports. Lessons learned through all four years of athletics at Washington continue to serve McGee today.  

“There were a mix of personalities and abilities on those teams. You learn to appreciate the differences and support each other. Our volleyball records were not great, so we learned about sticking together because we enjoyed the game and each other,” she says. “Rowing a race is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It teaches you not to quit, and the value of teamwork.”  


Newspaper volleyball photo

Athletics were instrumental to McGee’s experience as a Washington College student, and she continues to lean on what she learned. But the College’s athletics department would have a much more direct impact on her career when she returned as a staff member.   

“I was an analyst with Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C., and I hated it. I wanted to do something sports-related,” she said. Washington College Athletics hired her to work on public relations and events, launching McGee in a new direction. “It was the beginning of a through-line for my career.”  

Still a football fan, McGee is now in her 10th season with the Baltimore Ravens. The people operations coordinator (a human resources / special events position) attributes her talent to skills learned at Washington College.  

“Time management, thinking on my feet, adaptability, working with a team towards a common goal… I’m able to be part of something much bigger than myself,” she says, “including a Super Bowl Championship.”