By: Joe Barca, @BarkyCat
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Ricky Volante, Principal and Director of Consulting Services for Core 5 Sports Management, LLC. As a student-athlete at Lake Erie College, Ricky earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management. He then earned his Doctor of Law degree at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Ricky’s smart decision making along with the relationships that he made have led to his current success.
Where did you attend school? What did you study?
For undergraduate school I bounced around a little but ended up getting my degree from Lake Erie College. I was also a collegiate baseball player. My studies geared toward Sports Management and that’s what my degree was eventually in. From Lake Erie I went directly to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law which is Cleveland State University’s law school. I obtained a law degree there.
Was sports business always your area of interest? How did you break into the field?
Yes. Ever since I was little sports has been a huge interest for me. For the longest time I believed that I would be a professional baseball player but injuries sort of derailed that. At that time, between my freshman and sophomore year, I had to figure out how else I could be involved in the world of sports. Fortunately, I was able to meet a really great mentor at Lake Erie who took me under his wing. As soon as I started taking the Sports Management courses there everything made sense and it all clicked for me.
What is your current position?
Currently I am with Core 5 Sports Management, based in Cleveland. I began this company with an NFL Agent and with my mentor from Lake Erie College. It’s a sports consulting, management and agency firm. One partner heads up the NFL agency portion of it. His focus day-to-day is working with players and representing players. The other side, my mentor and I, we focus on the consulting side of things. We work with athlete endorsements when the agency side of things needs it but currently we are working on international projects relating to soccer. We offer a wide range of services mostly focused on business development, business organization, and things along those lines. Currently we’re working with a company in Europe that is trying to get a sports drink into the market here in the U.S. We’re working with them to secure distribution sales agreements as well as securing endorsements for the products. We’re basically the head of the U.S. campaign. Another example is we’re currently working with a professional sports franchise in Spain where we could offer a wide range of things with them such as team/player development, coaching structures, youth academy, and sponsorship opportunities. I don’t really have a single thing that I do from day-to-day.
How important is branding?
With the way that sports works today you can entirely ruin your brand with one click of a button because of how in demand the lives of athletes are and how quickly the information gets out. From our standpoint, it’s always best to have [the player] as educated as possible to at least try to mitigate circumstances. It’s also making sure they know what they should or shouldn’t be saying or doing in the public. Brand management is one of the most crucial parts for athletes today.
How did you get to where you are now?
One of the most crucial things that happened for me was initially meeting the mentor I have today. He really took me under his wing and made me more than just another jock interested in Sports Management. He showed me the way to go and he was actually the one who recommended I go to law school. Then when I was in law school I hooked up with another really great mentor, Peter Carfagna, who is incredibly connected throughout the world of sports.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
One would be that it’s more of who you know rather than what you know. So again it goes back to building relationships. A lot of people say you have to network but I put a little bit of a different spin on it. If I walk into a room of one hundred people, rather than speaking for a minute to all one hundred people and making those ‘connections,’ I would rather talk to five or ten of those people and really get to know them for ten minutes, because that relationship is more important than just saying, ‘Hello,’ and trading business cards. I think that’s crucial, finding people, developing relationships and maintaining those relationships. Also, you have to be willing to play in any role in a project. You have to be willing to go outside your comfort zone from time to time. Final thing is make sure you have a strong team around you. That’s one thing I think Core 5 is particularly strong with. We’re not all the same but we have complimentary skills and are willing to support one another when we need it.
Words of wisdom for students and young professionals trying to break into the sports business field?
Go into it with an open mind. The world of sports is always growing and there’s always new things. You have to be willing to take the path less traveled. There’s not just one way to get into this business, there’s thousands upon thousands. You have to be willing to put yourself into a position that no one else thinks about. I went to law school with no intention of being a lawyer and knowing that I was going to go there, meet people I needed to meet, and gain a particular set of skills throughout that would assist me with what my ultimate dreams would be. Now I can read, write, and understand contracts completely.
We would like to thank Ricky for his time and insight and we wish him the best in his future endeavors!