Whoever is in charge of clichés has never met Dawnelle Mock.

She not only got her cake after she graduated college, she has been eating it ever since. Devouring it, is more like it.

The western Pennsylvania native has been ensconced by and in love with harness racing since birth, and in 2016 earned a degree in Marketing Management from Youngstown (Ohio) State University. Upon graduation she immediately combined both passions by interning in The Meadowlands marketing department.

In January 2017, Mock became the social media director at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, the Washington, Pa. track where she grew up. That position quickly morphed into marketing director and, at age 25, Mock is living the dream.

“For sure,” she said in her unmistakable Pittsburgh accent. “You don’t usually get that lucky that you have a job that you love, especially in a sport. It’s a sport I’m passionate about so I think that makes you work all the harder.”

It’s a labor of love, and the by-product of that hard work is being acknowledged by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. At the Feb. 23 Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Dawnelle will receive the Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award, which goes to an outstanding non-trainer and/or -driver aged 30 or younger.

“It was so exciting when I got the call,” Mock said. “You work hard every day to try and market the sport and that’s the goal; but it’s always nice to be recognized for it.”

Dawnelle received an email from USHWA President Shawn Wiles the day after Christmas, asking her to call.

“I knew I was nominated so that was just an honor to be nominated,” she said. “There’s always a little part of you that says, ‘Oh, it’s just an honor to be nominated,’ but it’s always exciting to win. So, when I got the email, I was hoping.”

Wiles’ email had barely hit Dawnelle’s inbox when his phone rang.

“I called him right away; he probably just sent the email and I already dialed the phone number,” said Mock, adding with a laugh, “I had to call before they switched it up.”

There would be no switching, as Mock truly became a breakthrough performer over her first three years. Upon arriving at The Meadows, she immediately grew the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and quickly created a Snapchat account for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association.

“They had the platforms, they just weren’t huge yet,” Mock said. “When I started, I started doing Facebook giveaways. That really grows your reach.

“I think (social media) is huge, especially for events, to get your events out there for the locals to see that ‘Hey here’s a racetrack, they’re doing this event.’ When we do our Wiener Dog races and the Food Truck Festival, you get almost 8,000 people on your Facebook page saying they’re going to attend. If they’re sharing the events, it’s one of the cheapest advertisings you can use, and I think it’s very effective.”

Social media evolved into event planning and Mock was promoted to Marketing Director. She incorporated the aforementioned Wiener Dog races, which are dachshund hounds running two heats of races before the finals.

“It’s just a fun night,” she said. “People bring their dogs out, the food trucks are going that night, so there’s a ton to do on the apron. It’s like a family fun night. Everyone was unsure of it, but it ended up being our best on-track handle besides Adios Day.”

Adios Day is The Meadows’ biggest racing event, which features some of harness racing’s top 3-year-old pacers. Another big move by Dawnelle was to establish a partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins, giving the track an NHL presence after state studies showed hockey fans comprise a big part of harness racing’s target audience.

“The first year we did a big buy, they put our logo on the ice, we got some advertising throughout the arena,” Mock said. “They do advertising throughout the arena, one day a year you get a takeover page on their website. Last year it was during the playoffs. Their whole website was covered with Meadows racing stuff and they would direct to our website.”

Mock’s uncanny knack for promotion has contributed to a six percent year-over-year rise in handle at the track.

“Every year our events have grown,” she said. “Handle for our on-track events has grown. Even handle overall has been increasing. But for the events, that’s what we’re looking at. If the handle increases each year, we’re moving in the right direction.”

She started in that direction since birth. The youngest of four children, Dawnelle’s siblings are Daniel, Dennis, and Dana. Her father, Daniel, wanted to keep the D theme going. Since Danielle was too close to Daniel, her dad invented Dawnelle.

As for her mom. . .

“Her name is Lisa,” Mock said. “She’s left out.”

Daniel and Lisa owned Standardbreds in Somerset, Pa., and Daniel was also a trainer. When Dawnelle was in second grade the family moved to The Meadows in Washington, Pa. and she spent countless hours grooming and taking paddocks.

“I’ve always been around horses,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine not being around Standardbreds.”

Over time, Dana and her husband took over the operation and Dana now trains at The Meadows. Dawnelle’s fierce love for horses suffered a partial break-up when she went away to school, but she would return from Youngstown — less than two hours from Washington — on weekends and during the summers to paddock.

Originally a Managing Information Systems major, Mock had a life-changing experience as a sophomore when she accompanied another of the sport’s staunch advocates, Heather Wilder, the 2013 Breakthrough Award winner, to an USHWA seminar on the new Harness Racing FanZone and the website it was launching.

“I was like ‘Wow, this would be cool to get my degree in marketing and still be in the business of Standardbreds and racing,’” Mock said. “I actually went home from USHWA and switched my major to marketing the next semester.”

Her first big break came that year when she met Meadowlands COO and General Manager Jason Settlemoir at the Dan Patch Awards dinner. Settlemoir was impressed with the collegian and had her send a resume to Big M Marketing Manager Rachel Ryan.

Mock was granted an internship, and the summer of 2016 proved to be an invaluable experience.

“I loved it,” she said. “I wrote a paper when I left about my internship and said that my favorite thing was the camel and ostrich races. I don’t know why, I just loved that. It was nice. It’s a place people come just for harness racing and it was always such a nice atmosphere being there.

“They do a good job out there and really try to promote the sport. I still will text Rachel to this day, asking questions about stuff. So, she helped me a lot.”

Dawnelle returned home and planned to work with the horses while casually looking for a job. Lisa, however, was a little more insistent she put her degree to use.

Serendipity struck, for The Meadows happened to be looking for a social media director at that time. The person and position were made for each other and a career was underway.

“It was kind of a happy coincidence,” Mock said. “It was always something I loved, I never wanted to leave the horses. The social media job opened up and it went from there.”

And for now, she cannot see herself in any other field.

“I think I want to stay in harness racing for sure,” said Mock, who recently purchased a claimer. “I want to see the sport fill up every day like it used to.”

Now that she has broken through, Dawnelle is officially one of the movers and shakers to try and make that happen.

Original source credited to: ustrotting.com

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.