Alumni Focus

UConn Sport Management Alumni in the Community

UConn SMP Alumni SportPath - Michael McGuire, Coordinator, VIP Services with MLB's Washington Nationals

MichaelMcGuireSMPHeadshot
Michael McGuire (2013)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Michael McGuire (UConn Sport Management Program, 2013).

UConn’s Sport Management Program is among the nation’s elite, offering an array of classes that give a comprehensive look at all areas of the industry. It was this wide-range focus that helped set me on my current career path.

Entering college, I intended to become a coach. I got involved early as an Equipment Manager for the Football Team. But as I spent more time in the athletic department and the SMP, I realized I had as much passion for team and event operations as I did for coaching. The perfect marriage of all three came in the form of an opportunity to volunteer at the NFL Scouting Combine. Gaining a contact through my network and with a little patience and persistence, I found myself in Indianapolis the February of my Senior Year. While I preformed various duties over the course of the camp, the crux of my position was ensuring that the event ran as smooth as possible and fostering the best interview environment for all participants.

The Combine helped prepare me for my next role as an Event Coordinator with Red Frog Events. Serving as my internship required for graduation, I wouldn’t have known about the organization had it not been for a report I’d done in one of my SMP classes. Red Frog is the parent company of events such as the Warrior Dash, a 5K Obstacle Mud Run Series and Firefly Music Festival. A smaller organization, this position gave me the opportunity to work on everything from customer service to event operations logistics. I would highly recommend that anyone looking for internships or apprenticeships spend time somewhere similar in size. There are more opportunities to learn all facets of the business. Should you capitalize, it will make you a more versatile candidate moving forward.

Following Red Frog and a brief stint volunteering with the Game Entertainment Team of the Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers D-League Affiliate), I became the seasonal intern for the Community Relations Department of the Washington Nationals. Through the Alumni Association, I made a connection in the organization. I can’t say if this helped, but it most certainly didn’t hurt. Coupled with lifelong experience directing volunteer service opportunities, the industry skills I developed working events helped me in my role as a face for the Nats in the community. My main responsibilities included managing the in-game military salute program and coordinating the distribution and fulfillment of donations. Through the course of the season, I met many extraordinary people, had amazing experiences and gained a lot of responsibility in the department. By the time the internship was over, much of the staff asked that I keep in touch.

Currently, I am Coordinator of VIP Services with the Nationals. Through checking in every-so-often and updating former colleagues on my career search, my intern manager informed me of the opening and suggested I apply. I now oversee the visit of all VIP Guests to the ballpark and ensure their experience is second to none. And to think; if it weren’t for an SMP class report, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m still involved at the Combine too, for those wondering.

No two “SportsPaths” are the same. For every person who had to intern with five organizations before landing their first full time job, there’s someone out there who gained a manager position all from a chance meeting. It’s the nature of the beast. But the similarities between those who are successful regardless of career stops lie in the process. From listening to the paths of others and reflecting on my own, here’s what I would suggest: Get involved early and volunteer as much as you can. When you get those chances, really invest yourself. Stay late. Ask questions. Introduce yourself and talk to as many people as you can (for those frightened by the term, this is all networking is. Everyone in the industry knows how hard it is to break in. Most would be happy to speak with you). Be a little selfish when it comes to your professional development. Step outside of your comfort zone regularly. Most importantly, the only one who can make anything happen is you. There may be great contacts in your network who can put you in phenomenal places; you still have to be the one to follow through on the opportunity. Believe in yourself, dedicate yourself to what you want to achieve, and there’s no stopping you.

And don’t forget to pay attention in class.

Mike McGuire
SMP Class of 2013, Husky Forever

SMP Alumni Bob Quinn named Detroit Lions GM/EVP

Bob Quinn becomes third UConn grad to serve as professional sports GM.

Article and Photo Courtesy of UCONNHUSKIES.COM

University of Connecticut graduate Bob Quinn has been named the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Detroit Lions. A press conference was held on Monday to announce his hiring. Quinn will oversee the Lions' football operations and report directly to Owner and Chairman of the Board Martha Firestone Ford and President Rod Wood.

Quinn, native of Norwood, Mass., earned his master's degree in sports management from UConn in 2000 and completed his undergraduate studies at UConn in 1998. He and his wife, Julie (a Storrs native), have a son, Kyle, and a daughter, Grace.

Before his 16-year tenure started with the Patriots, Quinn spent time as a graduate assistant in the athletics department at UConn.

Quinn becomes the second UConn graduate as a current NFL GM as former Husky All-American linebacker John Dorsey is with the Kansas City Chiefs. In addition, UConn graduate and former Husky pitcher Billy Eppler is the GM of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"We are thrilled to have agreed to a deal with Bob to make him our new General Manager," Wood said. "As Mrs. Ford indicated at the outset, our search would be national in scope, and we would do everything possible to identify the very best person to lead our football operation. We believe Bob is that person."

For 16 seasons, Quinn has played an integral role in several aspects of the New England Patriots player personnel department. In the past four seasons, he served as the director of pro scouting after the team promoted him to that position in May 2012.

During his time with New England, Quinn helped the Patriots build one of the most impressive stretches in NFL history that produced four Super Bowl titles, including the most recent championship last season (Super Bowl XLIX). Since 2000, Quinn's first year, the Patriots won six AFC Championships, 13 AFC East titles, 12+ games in a season 10 times (which includes the past six years) and 10+ games in 14 of his 16 seasons.

Quinn's responsibilities have included both pro and college scouting during his tenure with New England. From 2009-11, Quinn was the Patriots' assistant director of pro personnel. He worked, prior to that, in college scouting as the team's national scout in 2008 and as a regional scout from 2004-07. Quinn served two seasons as a pro scout in 2002-03 after he joined the Patriots in 2000 as a player personnel assistant.

Alumni Focus: Fernando Carrasquillo - Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, Summer of 2013

Fernando Carrasquillo (2013)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Fernando Carrasquillo (Sport Management, 2013).

Puerto Rico: a Caribbean island and U.S. Commonwealth not only known for its cuisine, beautiful beaches and panoramic views, but also for being an island that lives and breathes baseball. Born and raised in San Juan, it was natural for me to be exposed to baseball through my father and grandfather. Looking back, I wish I had played the sport more and maybe play good enough to make it to Major League Baseball and cement myself in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know, it’s a long shot, but one can always dream right? Still, I found a way to make it into the Hall of Fame, just not as an inducted player, but instead as a Development Intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.

I was fortunate to have been selected as one of 15 interns out of over 600 applicants and the only Latino to do so. I had fulfilled of my lifelong dream of stepping foot into Cooperstown, NY and walk into the same building where the likes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, among others are inducted. Even though it was in the summer of 2013, and no living player was inducted, it was still a wonderful experience just to see all of the legends that have helped make baseball into America’s pastime and to spend a summer breathing into the baseball atmosphere.

As a Development Intern, I got to work all areas from the Ticket Booth, to Membership Services to even presenting artifacts to visitors of the Museum, all contributing to fundraising for the Friends of the Hall of Fame Program. This program funds the Education area, preservation of the hall and general maintenance of the Mecca of Baseball. Going from simple interactions with a father showing his son the heroes he grew up watching to letting people know that I was from Puerto Rico and that we contributed to three Hall of Famers, I realized that the Hall of Fame can go a long way to connecting generations, preserving history and most importantly, honoring excellence. I hope that I could open the doors to more Latinos forming part of this prestigious program while opening the doors to more fellow Huskies to honor our school in such a wonderful experience.

NOTE: You can read an article written for Puerto Rico’s Primera Hora newspaper by clicking here (can be translated through Google Chrome).

Fernando Carrasquillo
SMP Class of 2013

Alumni SportStory: Jennifer Myatt at USTA New England

Jennifer Myatt (2013)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumna Jennifer Myatt (Sport Management, 2013).

Ever since I started high school, I knew I wanted to work in the sports world. I came to realize that sports played a positive impact in my life- the social aspect and how it taught me values of hard work and team work. But where exactly in the sports industry? I came to college and was accepted into the sport management program. I knew exactly where I wanted my career to go once I took a service-based learning class: out in the community making a difference.

I am a Tennis Service Representative for USTA New England, a local section of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis. I work for the Community Tennis Department, apart from the competitive and high level tennis professionals we see on TV. Really my job is all about building relationships and creating partnerships. (I was offered a position to USTA New England after I was an intern for them in the Summer to complete my undergraduate degree, so it shows the process does work.)

I primarily work with schools, park and recreation agencies, and community tennis associations to teach and grow tennis. I am a tennis “trainer” despite never playing tennis until after I was hired with USTA. This means I visit elementary schools and deliver an “on-court” presentation on how to teach tennis in any nontraditional space, no courts required. Anyone can teach and play tennis. USTA recently changed the rules of tennis about 5 years ago, that promote lighter and shorter racquets along with tennis balls of different compression, so they bounce lower and are softer. This is great for beginners and also playing indoors. My job is to grow the sport of tennis and the possibilities and opportunities are endless. I work on connecting tennis providers to resources in the community to make their tennis program a quality and successful one. For example, a volunteer-based grassroots tennis program may not know where to play tennis, so I will connect them to a tennis club or other volunteers or stakeholders that can help or share their story.

The community department also offers grants to help start programs in a city, town, or school. I have helped get free youth-sized equipment into the hands of great youth-serving agencies as well as stipends to cover the cost of court fees, team t-shirts, and coaches. There are five major community tennis associations in the inner-cities of Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Danbury, and Norwalk and the USTA has a great relationship with them to support their efforts as they combine tennis and academic support in their youth program. Some of these organizations started out with no money or staff and now, years later, are incoporated nonprofit organizations with $200,000+ operating budgets.

I also manage a Junior Team Tennis league, that boasts over 1,500 participants yearly. I coordinate with many local tennis clubs and facilities on who is participating and when. I have to keep track of available court time for these youth teams and create and publish a schedule on a sport database, TennisLink. Teams qualify for the Connecticut USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championship each season and they meet at the end of the year to compete for the championship. I act as tournament director here and it is tough work but a lot of fun. Winners are the state level move on to New England Sectionals and then Nationals. The championships are held in the Summer and are is my busiest and most favorite time of year.

For a more in-depth view of what we do for an organization please see the article "Granting Tennis Wishes in Bridgeport".

Alumni SportPath: Matt Ouimette - Three lessons for success

Matt Ouimette (2012)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Matt Ouimette (Sport Management, 2012).

As an incoming freshman to the University of Connecticut, I knew I wanted to get involved with the athletic department. While I was still in high school I emailed a former classmate working in athletics in the hopes of obtaining a position. After a few emails back and forth I found a home in the football equipment room- not what I had hoped for but I graciously accepted. Soon thereafter I was asked to fill a vacancy as a video assistant to the men’s basketball program. What started as a simple email resulted in working over 100 UConn basketball games all over the country.

Lesson 1: Maintain and utilize connections.

My position as video assistant required me to work home games and the occasional practice. Instead of limiting myself to the required duties, I tried to get as involved as possible. I attended as many practices as I could, assisted team managers when needed and completed each task I was given quickly and effectively. Due to my commitment I was given more responsibilities and was fortunate enough to work events such as the 2010 Preseason NIT, 2011 Maui Invitational and the now historic 2011 Big East Tournament.

Lesson 2: Take pride in your work no matter how small the task may be.

In the excitement following our victory over Louisville to take the Big East crown and complete “5 Games in 5 Days” I was approached by a stranger. He told me UConn had forgot to cut down the second net and the MSG staff were about to remove the basket. He provided me a ladder in exchange for a piece of net. Unbeknownst to me, the man was the CEO of the software company I had used the previous four years at UConn. He offered me an internship on the spot.

Three months later I was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the sidelines of Heinz Field testing Still Shot equipment for NFL use. Through the course of my internship I was exposed to numerous NFL, NBA and NCAA clients, creating valuable relationships in the process. I was also able to test instant replay software that was eventually adopted for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament.

Lesson 3: Network! Not just a simple exchange of contact information but tell your story and detail where you want to be. You may just find yourself in the right place at the right time!

During my sports career I have worked over 200 NCAA basketball, NCAA football, FCS football and NFL games from Connecticut to Hawaii- and it all started with an email.

Matt Ouimette
SMP Class of 2012

Alumni "SportPath": Ronnie Balzano - from UConn to Major League Baseball Advanced Media

 

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Ronnie Balzano (UConn Sport Promotion major, Business minor, Class of 2014).

Ronnie Balzano ('14)

 

UConn Sport Management Program alumnus Ronnie Balzano (Class of 2014) applies his talents at the cutting edge of digital media operations for one of the most influential sporting institutions in the United States - Major League Baseball.

So how did Ronnie make the leap from engaged college student to employment at MLB's Advanced Media team as a Digital Client Services Coordinator?

"I believe that 100% without a doubt, my internships have got me to where I am today", said Ronnie. "I have been fortunate enough to say that I worked for IMG College at the football and basketball games for all four years while I was in college, spending the last three as the Head Intern. I was able to use my experiences to get an internship as a Global Sourcing and Marketing intern at NewsCorp for the summer after Freshman and Sophomore year. Finally, I was able to really crack into the sports industry by accepting an Ad Sales and Consumer Insights internship within the Research and Analytics department for ESPN."

Following Ronnie’s graduation in May 2014, he worked as a Digital Sales Assistant for the National Football League. He was originally directed there by his old boss at ESPN, who believed that would be a great place for him to start his career. After 15 months of working there, his new boss was looking out for his best interests in terms of room for growth and directed him to his current position at MLBAM. While the recommendation of his boss went a long way, he also utilized LinkedIn by finding a 2nd degree connection.

So what is it that Ronnie actually does for MLB Advanced Media?

He works in Digital Ad Sales for MLB.com and Boston.RedSox.MLB.com, which means he is responsible for everything from pre-sale all the way through the post-sale of digital advertisements. He leads the process of getting the insertion orders in house, tracking down creative tags, running sweepstakes and sponsored social media posts, taking screenshots, maintaining the pacing and delivery of all the various placements and reallocating the money elsewhere if need be, creating wrap-up decks to summarize the campaign, and billing.

Suggestions for current students? Internship, network, internship, network - make the most of every opportunity!

Alumni SportPath: Fernando Carrasquillo - From UConn to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & the San Antonio Spurs

Fernando Carrasquillo (2013)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Fernando Carrasquillo (Sport Management, 2013).

Growing up in Puerto Rico, I looked up to my grandfather, Jose Julian Alvarez, as he was involved in sports ever since I was young. He was heavily involved in developing the Little Leagues, knew many of Puerto Rico’s top athletes and was the Secretary General for the Puerto Rico Olympic. Trying to follow in his footsteps, I decided at a young age to study Sport Management at a school in the USA, and was blessed to have been given the opportunity to fulfill my dream starting at UConn.

I knew that working in sports was really competitive, so I did my best to getting as much experience as possible to continue in this journey, both during the semester and over the summers. During the four year stretch I worked for the UConn Men’s Soccer team and Athletic Marketing, the Central American & Caribbean Regional Games, renowned baseball agent Melvin Roman and Puerto Rico Islanders Football Club. During the winter break of 2012-2013, I formed part of a mission trip with Varsity Catholic, a subdivision of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which focuses on combining sports and faith on college campuses around the nation. This mission trip set in Puerto Rico, and as a local I volunteered to serve as the bilingual leader for the trip, setting up volleyball and baseball clinics for underprivileged children in the “Barrios”. This last experience was the deal maker in determining to pursue a career in sports in the community outreach area. On my last semester, I heavily focused on obtaining that coveted internship required for graduation, applying to many opportunities but eventually being offered an opportunity to join the National Baseball Hall of Fame & the San Antonio Spurs. I thought I had to decide between the two but instead was blessed enough to have done both, first the Hall of Fame one and a week later, moving to San Antonio to work for who would eventually be the 2014 NBA Champions.

These experiences have been very special for me. First, the Hall of Fame one was a lifelong dream of mine to arrive at Cooperstown, NY and experience the Hall, but who knew that I would end up spending a summer working there! It was definitely a blessing to form part of the Hall of Fame team and able to share experiences with fellow baseball fans. Afterwards, working for the Community Responsibility Department at Spurs Sports & Entertainment was a great experience that just made me more passionate about serving the community and doing good to benefit those in need. Also, winning a championship ring as an intern isn’t bad either.

After spending a year in San Antonio, I worked my way into the Orlando Magic, as their Youth Foundation, in charge of the in-game fundraisers as well as contributing to all other fundraising events such as the Black Tie & Tennies Gala and Golf Tournament. The $1 million raised went to grants for Central Florida non-profits that benefit children.

These last three internships after graduation have been very valuable for me. Not only were they with prestigious organizations, but also it allowed me to garner the necessary 1-3 years of minimum experience for all those jobs out there in sports. I’ll be honest, I had a couple of interviews with a few sports teams, some going to the final round but did not end up going through. I wasn’t disappointed, as I relied on my faith to continue working hard and hopefully landing the job most fitting at this time. Therefore, I resorted to search for Community Relations opportunities more specifically within the non-profit field, and was granted an opportunity to serve the community of Central Florida. The doors opened up and I worked my way into my current role of Relay for Life Community Manager for the American Cancer Society in Winter Park, FL. Eventually I hope to work my way back into sports, but for the time being I’ll be focusing on helping out those in need, impacting the community and continue gaining experience that will prepare me for the dream job in sports soon enough.

A big piece of advice I have for current students is to be involved, and quickly get your foot in the door as soon as you enter UConn as a freshman. Also, be open to change; you might want to be a sports agent like I did when I went into the Sport Management program, but after different experiences you’ll realize your true passion is another, like Community Outreach for me. You might not get your dream job as soon as you graduate, but continue working hard and gaining experience and soon enough, you’ll land a job that will lead you in the right direction to your ideal career goal.

Fernando Carrasquillo
SMP Class of 2013

Alumni "SportPath": Alex Friedman - from UConn to WME | IMG

 

Every UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) alumni has followed a unique path into the sport industry. As a part of an ongoing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn SMP Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today Alex Friedman (B.A. Sport Management, UConn 2008) shares a snapshot of his "SportPath" to working at WME | IMG with the UConn student community:

Alex Friedman (B.A. Sport Management, UConn 2008)

Currently, I work in Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Development at WME | IMG in New York. I work directly with our Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Development with a concentrated focus on internal M&A deal sourcing efforts across WME | IMG divisions worldwide. Acting as a proactive, process driven resource for the group who continuously pushes to move things forward, I work to engage with the leaders of the business units to not only relay corporate M&A priorities, but also help with developing a targeting plan for the respective business unit. When we say targeting plan, this is with regards to prospecting companies/organizations/products that are out in the marketplace that WME | IMG would potentially want to acquire that fit well within a respective business of ours or enhance one of our existing product offerings.

Looking back to where it all started, I began my career at College Sports Television (CSTV) as an intern when I was a junior in high school and continued to work there over the course of five summers. It was a great place for me to start as I figured out what I liked and didn’t like working on and made tremendous connections which continue to remain value to me through the current day (my initial introduction to IMG was through one of my strongest connections at CSTV).

After my last summer at CSTV, my next venture was to Stockholm, Sweden to work for Sport Business Nordic (a small boutique talent marketing sport agency) between semesters during my Senior Year at UConn. It was a great experience for me, again to network, but also to see how business works internationally between different cultures (I would suggest this to every student should they have the opportunity as it makes them a more knowledgeable, well-rounded executive).

Following graduation from UConn, I headed out to Los Angeles, California to do an internship at William Morris Agency. This was my most meaningful experience to date. Working in the Hollywood agency culture was something that I had never experienced before and I really took to it. I knew working at an agency was something that I really wanted to pursue and reinforced the prior vision I had for myself. I met great network contacts and friends during my time there and came back to New York with personal confidence and momentum moving forward onto the next step of my career.

Luckily upon returning to the East Coast, the U.S. Business Development group at IMG was looking for an entry level employee to assist in supporting the team. Utilizing my strong connection(s) at CSTV, I was able to secure an interview and at the end of the process was fortunate enough to have been selected for the position. Timing and networking are everything in today’s world.

Following a year in USBD, I made a move over to IMG’s Fashion Division where I eventually created a role for myself working with our Vice Presidents to oversee the day-to-day operation of the division’s Global Business Affairs, including the internal monitoring of sales and sponsorship revenue across all IMG Fashion events globally and the full facilitation of contractual agreements on a worldwide basis (i.e. sponsorship agreements, designer agreements, etc.) Although I had been progressing well within my role in Fashion at IMG, upon the announcement that IMG was to be acquired by William Morris Endeavor in December of 2013, I knew something bigger was in store. Everything had come full circle… a sense of fate was in the air.

Having worked at both William Morris and IMG, I had a good grasp of how both types of firms operated and the scopes of their respective businesses… I had and continue to expand on an incredible internal executive network at a high level across both companies… Over the course of my time at IMG, I had worked across a number of different groups in a number of different capacities… I knew I had something to offer that was unique. I knew I could be of help to the firm in some capacity with regards to fostering the communication across divisions that senior management was looking to create. I knew I could be of tremendous value to the new organization. I approached IMG’s Human Resources department about the new prospective role I had envisioned, continued to run with it up the WME ladder and months later find myself in my current new position.

A final piece of advice for students - no one can sell yourself better than you can. Be confident in yourself, be confident in your story and GO FOR IT. Throughout every chapter of your story, be proactive, pay attention to the details, treat every single person you meet with respect and don’t be outworked. The results will come.

 

UConn's SMP Class of 2011 – Four Years On

As the celebration quiets down for the Class of 2015, the UConn Sport Management Alumni Community takes a moment to check in with a group of its former graduates – this time, turning the clock four years back and focusing on the UConn Sport Management Program Class of 2011.

Are they continuing to pursue their sporting ambitions in a sports industry that is as competitive as it is diverse? If so, where are they now and what are they doing? Did their Sport Management degree from UConn help prepare them for the work they are doing? More importantly - are they enjoying it?

The answer from the Class of 2011 has been a resounding “Yes!

  • Abe Colwell – Director of Adult Hockey at Ann Arbor Ice Cube (Ann Arbor, MI)
    • The best part of my job is the freedom to make business/strategic decisions for the adult hockey program. I also like being able to connect with people over sports on a daily basis. I think the Sport Management internship requirements at UConn forced me to get hands-on industry experience as well as some great networking connections.
  • Jason Cvercko – Director of Football Operations, Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, NY)
    • “It's the people that I met through the program, and who the program put me in contact with. In the Football world it's not just who you know, but who knows you and will go to bat for you. It may seem hard now, but networking is key to success in any business – that is my biggest advice to anyone trying to get into football. Don't be afraid to try and meet/learn from people in the industry, especially because UConn has a big Alumni base in the profession.”
  • Lauren Gunning – Assistant Lacrosse Coach, UConn (Storrs, CT)
    • “I love that I get to be at UConn every day and work for the athletic department that gave so much to me as a student athlete. I am able to create an environment for my student-athletes similar to one I was able to experience. I am able to use my passion for the university each day. Being able to relate to my student-athletes from an athletic and academic standpoint makes it fun and exciting to come to work everyday!”
  • Sara LaMont – Tulane University Law School Student, Contributor to "The Sports Lawyer” (New Orleans, LA)
  • Emily Mattson – Office Manager University of Oklahoma Women’s Basketball (Norman, OK)
    • “The UConn sport management program introduced me to the many moving parts of the sport industry, and emphasized the importance of coordinating those parts effectively in order to have success in the field.”
  • Libby McCormick – Partner Services Coordinator at IMG College UConn (Hartford, CT)
  • Greg Mihailides – Admissions Counselor at 2U, Inc. for the MBA@UNC Program, UNC (Chapel Hill, NC)
    • “My academic training from UConn SPM helps me each and every day. In my job, I wear many hats, sales, marketing, customer service, project management, etc. Classes like Sport Marketing, Sports Law, and Sports Psychology provided me with great insight into many different fields and perspectives in the work place.”
  • Emmanuel Omokaro – Master Control Operator at ESPN (Bristol, CT)
  • Matt Sych – Manager, Sponsorship Consulting at Team Epic (Norwalk, CT)
    • “Our senior project was to develop a marketing plan to help the CT Whale (now the Hartford Wolfpack) increase ticket sales amongst college students. The entire process – from ideation to final client presentation – served as a great introduction to brand marketing. I love working with major sports properties such as the NFL and MLS, and helping drive sponsorship strategy for iconic brands like AT&T, Wells Fargo and FedEx. Free Super Bowl tickets are pretty great too....”
  • Jon Sazo – Assistant Football Coach, Stonehill College (Easton, MA)

Thank you to the Class of 2011 for sharing with the UConn Sport Management Alumni Community!

Alumni Focus: Marcus Easley - Buffalo Bills' Ed Block Courage Award winner

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 1.47.24 PM
Photo Courtesy of BuffaloBills.com

UConn Sport Management Alumnus Marcus Easley (Class of 2008) has seen his share of adversity on the road toward a career as a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. But every time a roadblock has been put up, Marcus has remained focused, risen above, persevered, and in doing so, inspired countless others through his conduct both on and off the field.

Marcus has never taken anything for granted. Nor was he ever simply handed success. All of his achievements have been a result of hard work, patience and diligence. And on March 16, 2015, Marcus was honored for these qualities by his fellow teammates by being selected as the Buffalo Bills' Ed Block Courage Award winner - a special award for NFL players who exemplify "a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage" and "symbolize professionalism, great strength, dedication and serve as a community role model for others." (Click here for more information on the Ed Block Courage Award.)

Photo Courtesy of UConn/BuffaloBills.com
Photo Courtesy of BuffaloBills.com

The awards gala honored Marcus and 31 other NFL team representatives who were chosen by their peers for displaying courage both on and off the playing field. As highlighted on Buffalo Bills' press release, "the award is named for Ed Block, the former Head Athletic Trainer of the Baltimore Colts from 1954 through 1977 and continued to serve the team until his death in 1983. Block, a WWII veteran, cared for his player’s physical health as well as for the well being of countless children. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation promotes the prevention of child abuse by raising awareness of the epidemic and assisting agencies who provide for the care and treatment of abused children in communities throughout the National Football League (NFL)."

Marcus has on multiple occasions recovered from injuries, health issues and setbacks to become a highly respected member of the Bills special teams unit, facing down the NFL’s best defenders on a weekly basis. Off the field, he has been an inspiration to local Connecticut youth football players through hosting the annual E.A.S.Y. (Excellence, Achievement, Striving, Youthful) Summer Camp, giving back to the community from which he came.

UConn and the Sport Management Department are proud to count Marcus among its distinguished alumni, and thank him for being an inspiration to us all.

For more details on Marcus' story, please see the Buffalo Bills' article "Marcus Easley's career anything but easy".

Alumni Focus: Leigh Michaud - ESPN Remote Operations

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumna Leigh Michaud (B.A. in Sociology, 2009, M.S. in Sport Management, 2012), who works in the remote operations team for ESPN.

UConn Alumna Leigh Michaud (B.A. in Sociology, 2009; M.S in Sport Management, 2012) is an excellent example of determination and perseverance for UConn students looking to break into the sports industry. Having set her sights in college on getting one of the highly-sought after jobs at ESPN after graduation, she never gave up, though there were periods where job prospects at the leading sport and entertainment broadcaster in Bristol, CT appeared to be bleak.

Without a doubt, her tenacity paid dividends, as today she holds a key role in planning the logistical and technical operations of ESPN College Football. So what did she do when her contacts and calls to ESPN failed to result in any job offers? She went to a local temporary job agency to get that all-important "foot in the door" opportunity - a temporary minimum wage job in the mailroom of the organization.

"The temp agency said that I probably wouldn't be interested in taking the mailroom position, as I was overqualified for the job," said Michaud, "But I jumped at the opportunity!" She was in good company starting in the mailroom, as number of other successful ESPN employees broke in to the organization through it as well. One prime example: former ESPN President George Bodenheimer.

It turned out to be a fantastic job for her, as it gave her unfettered access to all divisions and departments across the ESPN campus - which then allowed her to put her networking skills to great use. She got to know key people throughout the company, was able to learn details of all the different types of jobs at ESPN and find out what role was the perfect fit for her interests and ambitions. In two months she was hired out of the mailroom for a part-time job in ESPN3 Operations. Six months after that, she was offered a full-time position in College Football Operations.

She recently spoke to Dr. Joseph Cooper's Sport Marketing class, sharing her experiences in the industry and advice for persevering in one's attempts to break in to the industry. Leigh's advice to students? "Don't be afraid to apply for entry-level and part-time positions," she said. "Apply for all sorts of different opportunities... be open, be honest, be yourself... and don't ever give up!"

Alumni Focus: Mike Soltys - ESPN Vice President, Corporate Communications

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Mike Soltys (Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, 1981), who now serves as Vice President, Corporate Communications at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, CT.

On Monday, March 31, ESPN Vice President of Communications Mike Soltys came to UConn to speak with the university’s Marketing Club about his job. Soltys, an alumnus of UConn’s communications program, graduated in 1981 and has been working at ESPN for 35 years.

Soltys’ professional career started before he even left UConn. As a student, an ESPN representative came to speak and talk about internships, which led to his first opportunity with the company.

“I am the first and last unpaid intern,” Soltys joked.

Such dedication and tenure to the company has brought Soltys much success throughout his career. In his current position, he is in charge of public relations for television and radio outlets associated with ESPN, along with conducting research on viewer and listener ratings and interests.

However, things have changed a bit since he started. The advent of social media has made the industry even more fast-paced. Because of this, he claimed, handling public relations effectively and efficiently remains a priority. Nowadays, his operation uses Facebook, Twitter, and ESPN’s Media Zone , which was developed strictly for press relations, for branding and public relations purposes.

In all, though, Soltys praised the emergence of Twitter, claiming it is one of the best engines to connect the ESPN brand to a large audience.

“It is extremely important to have good relations with fans,” Soltys said.

Having been a recipient of networking from his days at UConn, Soltys was glad to come back to campus, share his wisdom, and serve as a fellow resource for the Husky community. Did he expect to be in this position 35 years ago? Not at all. But, similar to the sport product, life is certainly unpredictable.

“You have to be ready,” Soltys said.

Alumni Focus: Brent Colborne - ESPN Programming

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Brent Colborne (B.S. in Business Administration, a Major in Business Management, Minor in Sport Management, 2005), who works in programming at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, CT.

Brent Colborne

Although it has been ten years since he graduated, UConn alumnus and ESPN employee Brent Colborne has been to Storrs twice in the last month - all in the name of giving current UConn sport management students an insider's perspective on what it's like to work for one of the industry's broadcasting juggernauts. Making an appearance in both of Dr. Joseph Cooper's Sport Marketing classes, as well as speaking at the "Career Night in Sports" event at the UConn Alumni Center on February 26, Colborne shared his perspectives on what students really need to do in order to position themselves to break into a sporting organization.

"Entry-level positions in the sporting industry have become so much more competitive," said Colborne. "There's a rising tide of applicants with a variety of skill sets to choose from, so it's important to get as much experience as you can to help distinguish yourself from the crowd." He told students to make the most of the time and opportunities they have at UConn - whether its an internship, a part-time job supporting any of the 24 varsity sports on campus or even volunteering at local community sports activities such as fun runs. The key is just putting yourself out there - experiences and networking opportunities are created through every small activity you get yourself involved in.

It's also ok not to know exactly what you want to do while you're still in school - although Colborne is a veteran of the sports programming world today, when he was a student at UConn, the concept of the job itself unknown to him. That is, until three UConn alumni who worked in that department at ESPN came to Storrs to speak about their jobs in sports at one of his classes. Now he is regularly negotiating broadcasting rights deals for all of the college sports programming you see on ESPN.

Reccommendations for students? "When you're interviewing for a position, make sure you research the job," said Colborne. "Be prepared or within five minutes an interviewer will know you haven't done your homework."

One can start with a search online for "sports programming" at ESPN. In doing so, you might learn that according to the organization's website, the Programming Department's mission is to create, acquire, and schedule premier content to engage fans and maximize audiences on all platforms that ESPN delivers on - they lead the development of sport strategies across the company and manage constructive relationships with league partners and organizers. What does that mean in practical day to day terms? Thanks to Brent Colborne, attendees of the "Career Night in Sports" and in Dr. Cooper's classes not only know the answer to that question, they have a richer understanding of the role - and even more valuable than that, they now have a great contact in the industry to help guide them should they wish to pursue a similar career in the field.

Alumni Focus: Allison Cantor - ESPN Legal Department

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumna Allison Cantor (B.A. in Political Science, 2004, J.D. in Law, 2010), who works in the legal department of ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, CT.

Allison Cantor

"I love the fact that here's no such thing as a 'typical day' when working within the legal department at ESPN," said UConn alumna Allison Cantor during a recent visit to UConn's campus to speak to Dr. Joseph Cooper's Sport Marketing class. "One day it's cable and satellite affiliate contracts, and the next it's a consumer product licensing deal," she continued, "I learn something new every day and get to work with all sorts of different people through a broad array of projects."

February was a very good month for sport management students interested in an insider's view of legal work at one of the world's leading sport and entertainment broadcasters around the world. Allison has made several trips back to Storrs throughout the month to share her insights and experiences from her career at ESPN, most recently at the "Career Night in Sports", hosted at the UConn Alumni center on February 26.

What key skill does she highlight to current students looking to break into the industry? Networking. It is a skill that can take time to develop and requires practice - so she encourages students should be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to network when they can. To Allison, networking was a skill that was as important during her role as the UConn women’s basketball team manager as it was when she was completing her law degree... and it continues to be extremely valuable today in her job at ESPN.

Alumni Focus: UConn to ESPN - Three Alumni Pay It Forward

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. This week, we highlight three UConn alumni currently working at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, CT who came back to Storrs to speak to students about their experiences in the sport industry: Allison Cantor (B.A. in Political Science, 2004, J.D. in Law, 2010), Brent Colborne (B.S. in Business Administration, a Major in Business Management, Minor in Sport Management, 2005) and Leigh Michaud (B.A. in Sociology, 2009, M.S. in Sport Management, 2012).

ESPN's tagline says it all: "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" - and for any sport management student, it would be a dream come true to be able to work there. For Allison Cantor, Brent Colborne and Leigh Michaud, that dream is a daily reality and recently the three UConn alumni returned to Storrs to visit Dr. Joseph Cooper's undergraduate and graduate sport marketing classes to share stories with current Sport Management students about how they made the jump from UConn's campus to ESPN's campus in Bristol, CT.

Each plays a unique role in the organization - Allison is a lawyer responsible for licensing and affiliate contract drafting and negotiation, Brent works in programming, negotiating the broadcast deals that put intercollegiate sports on the air, and Leigh holds a key role in planning the logistical and technical operations of ESPN College Football. Despite the different kinds of work they do for ESPN, they all share three important characteristics: a love for sports, a UConn education and a desire to "pay it forward", to help current UConn students pursue their sporting dreams.

The ESPN crew took turns telling the students about their backgrounds, what they studied at UConn, what challenges they faced entering the sport industry workforce, all about the internships and jobs they held prior to their current positions - and shared their own personal recommendations and strategies for students hoping to break into the sports industry.

For Colborne, visiting Dr. Cooper's classes was a little like coming full circle - when he was a student, three alumni who worked at ESPN visited one of his classes to share their experiences at the organization. The connections he made in that class inspired him to pursue a job at ESPN - and guess what? The position he holds today is virtually the same as those who visited his class years ago. Now he stands on the other side of the classroom, and the time and insight he, Allison and Leigh share with current students will no doubt give a helping hand to the next generation of UConn students on their way to a career in sports. It is a great illustration of how the UConn experience connects all Huskies - past, present and future.

Alumni "SportStory": Tim Moriarty

 

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, Tim Moriarty (M.A. in Sport Management, UConn 1993), shares a "SportStory" about managing a crisis and improving operational plans from the experience.

Tim Moriarty (M.A. 1993)

 

 

While doing my pre-game walk around prior to the start of a men’s basketball game at Gampel Pavilion, a fan flagged me down with a medical emergency. When I arrived at the person’s seat, I discovered that he was in serious distress, turning blue and appearing to have a hard time breathing. I radioed down the floor to another colleague who was next to the team doctor, who came up along with the paramedics to provide aid. Before it was over, I had to run to the doctor's office in the building to retrieve the defibrillator kit while they performed CPR.

Thankfully, the man survived, and after this incident we decided to change the locations of where EMT/firefighters were stationed during games, in order to improve the potential medical response time for spectators. The experience taught me that during an event you have to be prepared for anything and be able to adjust on the fly; afterwards, it's important to learn from your experiences and take corrective action.

Alumni "SportPath": Greg Ferrara - from UConn to Team Epic

 

Every UConn Sport Management (SMP) alumni has followed a unique path into the sport industry. As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn SMP Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, Greg Ferrara (B.S. Sport Management, UConn 2010) shares a snapshot of his "SportPath" to working at Team Epic with the UConn student community:

Greg Ferrara ('10)

 

When I got into the Coaching & Administration program at UConn, my advisor was legendary UConn Men’s Soccer Coach Joseph Morrone. While he was certainly an “old school” personality, he taught valuable lessons on how to be a professional and respectable member of a team. And most importantly, he was able to set me up with volunteer hours within the Athletic Department. So that’s how I first ended up with a job in Athletic Development, just as volunteer student worker in the office.

After working there a semester, I really enjoyed it and did well enough that they hired me as a student worker so I could get paid a little bit through my work-study stipend. I continued to gain more responsibility within the department and ended up working there for about four years (until June 2012). After my contract ended, an opening came up at UConn IMG Sports Marketing and I already knew the General Manager from my previous work at UConn, so I was able to get an interview and ended up with the job.

After 18 months there, I started to think of what I wanted my career to be and I finally realized I wanted to work within Sports Marketing and at sporting events as an "event/hospitality planner". A co-worker put me in touch with another former UConn Husky at Team Epic and after a couple interviews, that's how I ended up where I am currently. As much of my job centers around golf events, I have the chance to travel around the country and work at some of the most iconic golfing facilities in the country - and indeed some of the most spectacular sporting settings you can find, such as the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge, pictured above.

Company: Team Epic - Sports Marketing Agency in Norwalk, CT

Position: Associate in Team Epic's Events and Hospitality department - responsible for the planning and execution of hospitality events at sporting events for various Team Epic clients.

Previous positions: UConn Athletics Development Office, UConn IMG Sports Marketing

Event experience: Intercollegiate basketball, soccer and football games at UConn; Various golf tournaments (U.S. Open in Pinehurst, NC, TOUR Championship in Atlanta, Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston); MLB games (Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees); NFL games (NY Jets, Dallas Cowboys).

 

Alumni "SportStory": Ashley Combs & the Spur's Learn & Play Center

As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, Ashley Combs (Master of Education - Sport Management, UConn 2014), shares a "SportStory" about helping to deliver a remarkable community legacy project with the San Antonio Spurs:

Ashley Combs ('14)

Growing up, I always imagined that I would work for an NBA team, but I had never considered what it might feel like to be a part of a team that was competing to win an NBA championship. Further, I never imagined that I would work on a project that would serve as an integral part of my organization’s NBA Finals experience. The San Antonio Spurs' run in 2013 was memorable, but my 2014 NBA Finals experience included working on a project that would teach me a great deal about how to be a successful leader.

During the NBA Finals, participating teams are asked to create a new Learn & Play Center that will serve the community. Work on the project begins in April and if your team makes it, will culminate in a nationally televised event where current and former players help to dedicate the new space. The 2014 project had both challenges and highlights. Some of the challenges faced included getting enough funding to create the type of lasting impact that we were hoping to create. Deadlines also served as a major challenge, as the opportunity to complete and display all the hard work that my group put in depended solely on the work that our team did on the basketball court.

I also had to manage not only multiple elements of the project, but also colleagues from our team and the NBA, vendors, etc. to execute the project. The project was all worth it when we finally unveiled our newest Learn & Play Center. The school that we worked with, its students, our players, executives and local dignitaries were blown away by the work we had done and acknowledged that the contributions that we made would be impacting the quality of education that students in our community would experience for years to come.

Check out a great video snapshot of the Spur's Learn & Play Center by clicking here.

 

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On a regular basis we will profile a member of the UConn Sport Management Alumni Community. It is important to be able to share real-life stories about the joys and challenges of the world of Sport Management with other members of the community.

What’s your story? Contact the Sport Management Alumni coordination team and share your story today!