Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
I am the General Manager for the Willmar Stingers Baseball Club. We are part of the Northwoods League, which is a summer collegiate baseball league. We bring a minor league baseball feel to communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Thunder Bay Canada. My position entails meeting with area businesses to sell our marketing and hospitality options.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I am a 2008 graduate of CSB/SJU. After graduation I decided to go back to graduate school at SCSU and enter the Sports Management program. After my first semester, I obtained an internship with a team in the Northwoods League in Brainerd, MN. After completing my initial internship, I was hired for a seasonal position with the Willmar Stingers as the Assistant GM. I finished my graduate degree in 2010 and upon doing so, I was given a full time position with the Stingers organization. In January 2013, I was promoted to General Manager for the team.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
The best advice I can give to someone who wants to work in the sports industry is to get an internship in minor league baseball somewhere. A minor league baseball internship, probably above any other sport, gives a student a great insight as to what it takes to work in the field of sports. This type of internship allows them to gain experience in all facets of running an organization, such as selling tickets, marketing, promotions, hospitality/concessions, fan relations, etc.
I found out that without an internship of some sort in the sports world, it is increasingly difficult to get hired to a full time position in sports.
What skills are important in your field?
People that are successful in sports have to have a strong work ethic and not be afraid to get their hands dirty. It takes a different mentality and work ethic to be in sports because of the commitment that is needed. This career is not a "9-5" type position, there are long hours put in that include many nights, weekends, holidays, etc.
Being able to sell is also an important aspect to a career in sports. There are few careers in sports that don't have some sort of sales aspect to it. The interaction between you and the potential sponsor is crucial to getting a sponsorship committed to.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I think things like attending career fairs and networking events held through CSB/SJU and other organizations (i.e. Chamber, other universities, sports orgs.) allowed me the chance to be in front of sports industry professionals. I was able to get insight as to how they got to their position and what route I could/should take to get into the industry.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
The best thing about working in sports is the entertainment we are able to bring to fans within our community. As a front office member, I cannot control whether or not we win a game on the field, but I can control if fans have a great experience at our ballpark. Seeing fans of all ages walk out of the ballpark excited and with a smile on their face gives our staff a level of satisfaction.