5 Questions for Brittany Rheault ’07

As Chief Operating Officer of United Fray, Brittany Rheault ’07 has made a career of bringing fun into other people’s lives. Through inclusive social sports and virtual and in-person programming, Rheault helps build community, strengthen teams, and foster positivity. We spoke with Brittany about the impact of her time playing on Worcester State’s women’s basketball team, her passion for sports, and her canine sidekick, Kennedy.

You were a student-athlete here at Worcester State and I understand your time on the basketball team was significant for you. Can you share a bit about that experience?

My time as a student-athlete was a huge part of my college experience. It’s what laid a foundation for the work ethic that has carried me through my career and adult life. Coach Karen Tessmer challenged us to not only be the best athletes but the best people. She built a program that was marked by structure and discipline. We traveled all over—to Hawaii, Bermuda, Tennessee, San Francisco. For some of my teammates, it was their first time on a plane. We had the chance to volunteer and spend holidays together as a team. Coach Tessmer made it clear that we were students first and athletes second. 

When I started playing softball as a sophomore, I was well prepared to rise to a challenge. It was hard to walk onto that team in my second year, but the community that I had as an athlete carried me through. I had to learn to manage my time well so I could play, study, and still make room for some fun. I’m so glad I was able to learn that during my time on campus when I had the support of great coaches, teammates, and support staff.

It was also awesome to bring all of this experience to my time as a student orientation leader. That’s where I honed my public speaking and leadership skills. I saw what it meant to really engage a group of people. These are all things that have stuck with me to this day. 

Today, you appear to be working in the most fun industry ever—fun is actually the mission. What do you love most about your career?

Making fun possible is the best. What I love most about my career is that no day is the same. Social sports give people the opportunity to make friends, build community while doing something they love. Life is stressful, and I get to give people an opportunity to play. I’ve seen people meet their best friends on a softball field or have their kickball teammates stand up at their wedding. During COVID, I was even running virtual speed dating, and this summer I got to see two of them get married. They printed out a giant poster of the screen shot of the Zoom meeting and hung it up at the reception. It’s really cool to get to be a small part of big moments in people’s lives. I also just love how much I get to interact with people from different walks of life throughout the United Fray Community. Working with a staff that shows up to build this culture every day is also a dream. 

Since COVID, my job has given me the opportunity to travel more. I have had a great time visiting United Fray around the country and seeing the impact of bringing people together around sports and events. My job has also taken me to some really cool places—like SXSW and, most recently, the Dominican Republic for the Sport and Social Industry Association Conference. 

Something I’m really proud of is that I’ve had the platform to make sure no one is left out of the fun. Our leagues are safe spaces for people to come be their full selves. Our registration system now uses the most inclusive language, and there are new rules and policies to make sure our leagues are accessible for different physical ability levels.

As an athlete, coach, and sports professional, what have you learned over the years about the power of sports and fitness to make us happier?

Sports are powerful because of the community they build. There is nothing like the bond between teammates. The support I’ve received from coaches has carried me through rough times. Nothing brings fans together like a crushing loss or big win. I think about the hours I spent in the minivan with my mom driving me to tournaments growing up. We got to spend so much time together, and that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. My time as a Lancer gave me a college experience that few can say they had. Sports have given me some of the most important relationships in my life. Whether I’m riding the highest high or the lowest low, I have people in my corner, and that’s invaluable. 

Brittany’s sidekick, Kennedy.

Tell us about Kennedy and what is her favorite sport?

She’s a labradoodle parti mix who loves to party. Kennedy is my little sidekick, partner in crime, and ride or die. She’s obsessed with her unicorn toy that has been repaired more times than I can count. You can usually find her doing zoomies in the back yard and or doing her Doodle Dance when she meets another doggie friend. She’s never met another doodle who doesn’t want to be her best friend … except maybe her older brother Wally who would prefer to be a solo grump. Kennedy looks forward to Bark or Treat every October and likes to feel the breeze in her fur when she comes with me on Target runs. 

As for a favorite sport, Kennedy is a social butterfly, but she’s not always here to break a sweat. She loves a low-key sport where she can spend time with her people. Catch her with me on the National Mall playing kickball.

Imagine you get to organize a dinner with three people from any time in history—who would you invite and why?

First, it would definitely be drinks at a place with great music. I don’t do dinner for a first date. That being said—I want to dance with somebody, and I also want to feel the heat with somebody. So Whitney Houston is number one on the list. Then, I am taking it all the way back to my favorite founding father—George Washington. I love Mount Vernon, and I visit as much as I can. (Did you know they make a great whiskey there?) Anyways, I have questions for George. Finally, we’re including a tough cookie for dessert. You always need someone that will chirp you and give it to you straight—but also someone who is still going to make sure you get the win and have fun. Pat Summitt, legendary women’s college basketball coach, would round out my perfect night. 

Photos courtesy of Brittany Rheault