This feature is presented to you by the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration
By Dan Freeman, @DanTheInternMan
When running an event for a collegiate sports team, it’s all about the atmosphere. However, not all athletic departments have the kind of leverage and support that big-time Division 1 schools do. For most universities, especially FCS schools like James Madison where Joey Cutting works, it takes hard work to create the desired atmosphere.
Cutting is a graduate assistant for athletics marketing. His duties involve working with JMU Athletics to generate increases in attendance, engagement and promotional incentives towards all JMU sports teams and fans. As a rising star in our industry, I asked him what it’s like to be in his shoes.
At sporting events that he runs, you can expect to see and hear the unexpected. His department does their best to fill every small gap of time when the ball is not in play with some sort of engagement, which can include anything from music, sound effects, giveaways, jokes, dances, sing-alongs or in-game promotions.
“Each game is attempted to be a better ‘show’ than the last – it's up to us to keep our devoted fans happy and returning for every home game. With the heavy use of myself being the in-game host/Emcee, they are able to connect with a lot of our fans on personal levels in order to grow the belief in our sports programs,” explained Cutting.
Though Cutting has extremely busy weeks with school, work, his personal life and looking into full-time positions for fall 2017, he is never lacking enthusiasm. The last two years of being a Graduate Assistant have been the two hardest years of his life.
Balancing everything in between is no easy task – sometimes you have to take an entire day off from work in order to finish a massive school project. He explains that there are hardly any days that you ever truly get to yourself, but you can find ways to incorporate a hobby or "me-time" into your day if you do a good enough job managing your time wisely and prioritizing everything well enough.
Cutting identifies the real grind that completely consumes him with a lot of early mornings and late nights, is prepping resumes and cover letters in order to apply for the jobs.
“There is such a thing called work-life balance, but it's impossible to achieve if you're not working smart. Working hard just isn't enough anymore, so everyone needs to do a lot of the little things necessary to complete any work task from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. However, this can't be done without a lot of sacrifices and personal prioritization. Make sure you have a plan for each day, week and month, and usually life will take care of itself,” Cutting stated.
Philosophy of working in sports:
For Cutting, making a good first impression is paramount.
"You never get a second chance to make a good first impression," he said.
If you can find a way to continually leave an impact on every room that you are in, you will always be able to have someone advocate for you.
As far as athletics marketing goes, Cutting sees himself and his team as the overall ‘fuel’ of sporting events. If they can move the crowd to be more energized, the crowd will then ‘fuel’ the players on the team to succeed. Eventually, the entire process multiplies and it all comes back around full-circle.
This "fuel" and overall energy can be a significant factor in home court advantages, continued fandom and team success. Cutting believes that this "fuel" is the reason why his teams are 3-for-3 in conference championships, his team has the "fuel."
While his time at JMU is almost up, he is looking forward to what is next.
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so I'm hoping to stay uncomfortable so that I can grow and develop at an accelerated rate,” Cutting explained.
One of Cutting’s biggest hobbies is fly fishing. His mind is at total ease when he’s ‘wetting a line’ on a river, lake, ocean, etc. Fishing is his ‘me-time’ (refer back to where he speaks about making time for yourself) and really helps him calm down and escape the busyness of an athletics marketing lifestyle.
Not only is Cutting enjoying himself on the water, but he is learning life lessons as well.
Whatever you're going after, you may not be able to see it until you get there. Just keep on being yourself, working hard, learning from mistakes, moving forward and trusting the process until you hook into that big fish or job that will forever change everything for the better.
I want to thank Joey Cutting for taking the time out of his hectic schedule with five softball games in five days to answer some questions and share his philosophy on life, fishing and growth.