AUBURN, Maine — The person planning Sunday’s Super Bowl is an Auburn native, only the second woman to plan the annual championship game.
A former Edward Little High School cheerleader and gymnast, Allison (Cummings) Melangton said Tuesday that what she learned at EL planted the seeds of her sports career.
Melangton, 50, is president and CEO of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee in Indianapolis. She’s the daughter of Eleanor and Norman Cummings of Auburn.
With the Colts out of the running, she’s rooting for the Patriots. “I grew up in Patriots’ country. I have it in my blood,” Melangton said Tuesday during a phone interview from Indianapolis.
Melangton has been preparing for the Super Bowl for four years. “There couldn’t have been a better foundation” than the one she got in Auburn attending Edward Little, where she graduated in 1979, she said. “Edward Little is an amazing high school. I loved every single minute of it.”
When she was in high school, John White was the athletic director. “He sparked my interest in sports management as a career, letting me volunteer in the athletic office during study periods,” she said.
He and her coaches, Don White (John’s brother), and Carol and Jimmy Miller, “set me on a course for this career. They were all making a living in sports.” One of her greatest teachers, she said, was coach Don White, who “taught me what discipline and hard work was.”
Her former coach, Carol Miller, today is the elementary technology coach for Auburn schools, the wife of Edward Little Principal Jim Miller. After winning a contest, Carol and Jim will be at Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Carol Miller said Melangton was always willing to help others. “She wanted to promote the team, not herself. She was definitely a jewel.”
Melangton graduated from the University of Colorado where she was a gymnast. She got involved in coaching and judging, and began working for USA Gymnastics and the Olympics.
When USA Gymnastics moved to Indianapolis in 1983, she moved too, eventually meeting her future husband in that city. They have a son who is a high school senior, her mother said.
According to her biography on www.indianapolissuperbowl.com, Melangton has planned and directed a number of big sporting events through USA Gymnastics: Olympic trials, world championships, Women’s NCAA Division Basketball Championships. She’s worked at seven Olympic games, four as associate producer of the gymnastics competition for NBC, winning Emmy awards for her work. Melangton administered Indianapolis Super Bowl bids for 2011 and 2012.
As this year’s top Super Bowl planner, Melangton has to be concerned about everything in the city, including food service, taxi cab providers, traffic and the weather.
This year’s game will be different from most, her mother said.
“Women plan Super Bowls very differently than men,” Cummings said. “Guys are all charts and graphs. She’s making it more personal.”
Melangton’s Super Bowl is full of warm touches, some already making the national news.
This year’s Super Bowl will call attention to efforts to fight and detect breast cancer. All 800 Super Bowl volunteers will wear blue and white scarfs, a thank-you for their help.
Super Bowl “hope baskets” full of goodies are being delivered to children with cancer in hospitals in the 32 cities that host an NFL team. NFL players will deliver the baskets, Melangton said.
In Indianapolis, which Cummings described as a family-friendly city, her daughter has created nice touches for visitors, including an Olympic village feeling with warming stations for those not used to a cold climate.
A downtown zip line has been installed to give football fans some entertainment. “They stand in line for hours,” Cummings said.
During Sunday’s game, Melangton said, she’ll be “where I’m needed most.” If weather’s a problem, “I will be at my desk working with staff.” If things are running smoothly, she’ll enjoy the game, cheering on the Patriots.
“I’ll be giving the Eleanor Cummings cheer,” she said. “My mom is a die-hard Patriots fan.”