Geoffrey already did really well on answering your question, but I thought I might further confirm his suggestions and perhaps provide some new ones.
I think it is very important to be proactive. Do not wait for opportunities to simply appear, but instead seek them. Definitely start early! I went to speak to supervisors in different labs directly as opposed to emailing or talking over the phone. This really makes a difference. They have a better impression of you this way. A lot of students who were interested in working in a lab applied to a program in which you competed for grants, which would acts as a means of funding & increase the chances of a supervisor's ability to accept you to work for them. I did not receive a grant, however, I ventured off and thought I would contact other supervisors that were not a listed as participants in the program and thought there may be supervisors who are able to fund students themselves, besides the fact of whether they had received a grant or not. This is just an example. I am aware that you are interested in working within the Athletic Department, but I am sure these ideas presented here are transferable.
If after applying you don't receive the position you were hoping for at least you have your foot in the door. You will be much more likely to get the position you wanted originally perhaps the following year. Having experience is key!
Definitely acquire more information about work studies. There were a variety of options at my University appealing to a diverse group of backgrounds.
Hope this helps :)