Humans of NAU: Monica Cowbrough

Monica Cowbrough wearing an NAU shirt doing LJs in her backyard.

When career-ending injuries derailed Monica Cowbrough’s plans, she found another way to stay close to what she loved—athletic communications. The associate athletic director of communications talks about the pivot that her alma mater allowed her to make in her life, the work she’s done to get to this point and the importance of representation in the industry. 

What brought you to NAU?  

I started at Northern Arizona University as the associate athletic director for communications back in November 2022. I was previously working at another Big Sky Conference school, Eastern Washington, in the same position when my current spot opened, and NAU reached out. I had always admired Northern Arizona and its accomplishments from afar. I came to my interview, and the rest is history! 

Monica Cowbrough head shotHow did you get into athletic communications? 

I was a cross country and track and field student-athlete at Eastern Washington and struggled with career-ending injuries. During an exit interview with my head coach, I was unsure what my next steps should be. She shared that there was an opening covering our program in EWU’s Sports Information office, so afterward I went into my future boss’ office and asked for an opportunity. I was lucky enough to obtain a graduate assistantship at Western Illinois after interning at EWU for a year. Once my assistantship was over, I went back to Eastern Washington and worked full-time in two different roles for six years before coming to Northern Arizona.  

Why is it significant to have you as head of the athletic communications department and over an all-woman team? 

Representation. I am proud to have the only full-time female staff in the Big Sky Conference and to be the only head female director and only female football athletic communications contact, but there needs to be more. I earned my role because of hard work and experience in this field, not because of my gender, and I want people to see that.  

Are you seeing greater gender equity in these spaces at this point in your career? 

I am seeing a great acceptance of women in my field, and we are also more celebrated and appreciated. I appreciate that regardless of gender, the roles and responsibilities for my position are the same across the board.  

Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today. 

I was a competitive long-distance runner for most of my life. Through the sport, I’ve learned mental toughness and discipline that help me in my career and life outside of the sport. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. 

What have you been most proud of recently? 

I am proud of my staff for all of the work they have done publicizing our athletic department’s accomplishments so far this season. We have a lot of work to do, but our department is building something special!    

What is your favorite way to spend a day off? 

Days off in college athletics are precious! I enjoy spending time with my husband, Drew, and our cat, Louie. Outside of work, I love to watch baseball, take care of my houseplants and cook.    

What are three things on your bucket list?   

My husband and I got married in July 2023 and we still need to go on a honeymoon! Other than that, I’d love to keep checking off Major League Baseball stadiums and go whale watching.  

What advice would you give women who want to go into this field? 

Hold your own! You’re in this field because you can do it, not because you’re a woman. Don’t be afraid to speak up and always be yourself. 



NAU Communications