Some of my earliest memories involve ice hockey rinks, baseball, and softball fields. Through my father and grandfathers, I was raised not to be a fan of a specific team, but to appreciate all forms of sporting. They taught me the rules and encouraged me to ask questions. Why did a play have a certain outcome? Why did a referee or umpire make a certain call? This is why I decided in elementary school that I wanted to work in professional sports, and, more specifically I wanted to be a color analyst for the New York Rangers.
Many cultural influences are generational whether it be music, clothes or television shows. Sports, however, brings generations together. My grandfathers and father forged a stronger bond when they taught me about sports. When I look around the stadiums I visit, I see parents and grandparents teaching their children about the team, the play, the sport, and using sport as a metaphor for life. Sports teaches teamwork. Even in individual sports it takes a team of coaches, trainers, and supporters to make the athlete successful. Sports teaches values. It proves that if a person works hard enough and puts in the time and dedication almost anything can be achieved.
A summer internship with the Tampa Bay Storm while attending the University of South Florida led to a pivotal change in my career ambitions, and led to a decision that broadcasting was not in my future. For one season I was mentored by the team’s Vice President of Operations. Twelve years later, I still believe this was the best internship I could have asked for. I had the rare and educational sports organization internship: a hands-on opportunity to learn the assortment of responsibilities that go along with working in a ten-person front office.
My biggest accomplishment came halfway through the season. My supervisor had an idea for a cheerleading clinic and she asked me to manage its creation, without dedicated funding. I was tasked with finding participants, sponsors, food, and giveaways. Since the season was during the summer, I contacted local dance and cheerleading camps and asked them to tell their campers about our clinic. I reached out to team sponsors for aid in providing food and giveaways. A few weeks later, with the help of the teams cheerleading squad, over 300 local girls and boys performed during half-time of a Storm game.
For me, one of the most gratifying aspects of working in sports is interaction with the fans and being an ambassador for the team or league I work for. While working for the Miami Dolphins, I was able to use another skill, my comprehension of Sign Language, to improve the experience of some hearing-impaired fans. The group had approached customer service seeking help. Instead of requiring them to write down their questions, I was able to converse with the fans and serve as an interpreter to ensure that customer service could meet their needs.
Everyone has a dream. Their dream wedding. Their dream house. Their dream vacation. My dream is to work in sports and events, to support the work of teams and players, and enhance fans’ experiences. I find the work extremely fulfilling when I see a child enjoying not only the plays on the field, but also the promotions and entertainment that I have worked so diligently to prepare and see come to life.