This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.
By: Andrew Sproul, @AndrewSproul90
When I was hired as an intern for the marketing department of Utah State Athletics, I did not know how quickly my career would progress. In the spring of 2015 my career in sports began when I was assigned to work the final home game in the Spectrum for Stew Morrill, a historic men's basketball coach and personal idol of mine. I had no experience in marketing and got a crash course in executing promotions from a senior intern at the game. It was exciting and overwhelming, but I knew with surety that this was what I wanted to do. I spent the rest of the year rolling and throwing T-Shirts for softball games and learning all that I could by watching the marketing team.
During the summer I volunteered to help with handing out posters at New Student Orientations, which led me to being trusted to take on bigger responsibilities. Prior to soccer season, I started to do office hours and assisted with a variety of assignments. This was crucial to what would come shortly after. Within the month, I was in charge of scheduling my fellow student workers, and shadowing the GA at football games and the Assistant AD for Marketing at men's basketball.
I was given these responsibilities and opportunities because I was willing to work and do the tasks that I was assigned, as well as stepping in even when it wasn’t expected of me. Becoming a lead marketing intern in my first year was sudden and unexpected, and I have loved every aspect that comes with this position. I take pride in every area of the job, from playing the in-venue music right down to stuffing envelopes. A vital lesson I’ve learned is that the most successful people in athletics don’t look at even the most monotonous tasks as beneath them. If they see something that needs to be done, they do it, regardless of their pay grade.
My journey continued when the GA accepted a position at another school in early January. In his absence, I became lead contact for women’s basketball, which was a whole new realm of experience in working with coaches, budgets, and the process of reorganizing and executing a revised marketing plan mid-season. Although this was a difficult and time consuming position, the experience was richly rewarding, including an attendance increase of 10% occurring that season and becoming acquainted with many of the coaches and senior staff members in the department.
Although these experiences were great, one of my favorite things was the time I spent as co-lead contact for softball during the best season in USU’s recent history. I helped to increase fan engagement and attendance by creating entertaining promotions such as frozen t-shirt contests, “sing for your supper," and removing any promotions that didn’t involve the crowd.
Starting out as an entry level game-day assistant who folds T-Shirts and transitioning into bigger responsibilities such as designing and implementing a marketing plan was a unique leap that I didn’t feel prepared for at the time because I still had so much to learn. As I’ve become more comfortable with being a leader amongst peers, one of the most important things I have found is that a little motivation and encouragement go a long way. When people on a team feel appreciated and supported, they can work together to achieve just about anything.
I'm grateful for the marketing team at Utah State and for all the mentors and friendships that I've made along the way. My journey is still in the early stages and I can't wait to see what comes next.