Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Hope You Dance

During the rarity of spare time I have in my life, I found myself sitting on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This beach is located in the Outer Sunset District of the city, as far west as you can go as I like to say. For the first year I lived in San Francisco, I lived just three blocks from Ocean Beach and visited it regularly. Whether it was running five miles or just sitting listening to the waves crash, I found a sense of relief. I haven't been back in a few months, which makes me realize that it had been a little too long.

If you were to talk to my close friends, they'd tell you I'm terrified of the ocean. And for that matter, I'm not a big fan of the sand. I just hate the way it sticks to you and it never seems to escape your body. But, for the year I lived by the beach, it made me realize and see changes in myself I never thought possible. I guess you could say the beach is a giant metaphor of my experience in California.

Each time I visit the beach no matter if I run or sit, I always listen to Lee Ann Womack's 'I Hope You Dance'. If you're in need of an inspirational song in your life, that's the one I recommend. The song is about taking chances, something I've learned in my last year and a half. For example, visiting a place like the beach on a weekly basis even though it scares me. 

Moving out was scary, I won't deny it. So if you're from out of state or even down in SoCal and looking into this program up in the Bay Area, it'll be scary. But, the good news is, you're not the only one. As cliché as it sounds, the lyrics definitely describe everything I've been in taught from USF.

And in case you don't listen to the song, here's a few verses:

- - I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance / Never settle for the path of least resistance / Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin'

I hope you dance / Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along / Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean / Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens - -

First of all, there are a lot of mountains in the distance. I'm from Texas, the best mountain we have is made out of concrete and windows in the heart of downtown Dallas and it's not as scenic as the ones out here. 

The path of least resistance. Now that is a huge lesson you'll learn at USF. The first class you'll take with Dr. Cellini will remind you over and over again to get out of your comfort zone and to be different. There's a reason people you work with stay at the same position for years, they don't get out of their flow. Be different.

Taking chances that are worth taking. If I had the opportunity to go back and do it all again, hands down I would. Maybe I'm biased in the sense that I have come to like moving and experiencing new things, but that's something this program has done for me. Overall, this chance is worth taking. I'm 22 years-old, have worked in over five sport organizations and made so many connections, if not friends, along the way. I know they say life after undergrad is different, but they didn't tell me how much fun I'd be having too!

Time is always rolling. I think that sums up my last 5 days and the next 5 days coming up. In the last five days I've ran a half marathon, went to a country concert, worked a Warriors game with the PR team, and worked my day job at Pac-12 Networks. In the next five days, I'll work both Pac-12 men's and women's basketball media days, go to Arkansas for homecoming weekend and be back to work at Pac-12 Networks on Monday. And if you're wondering if I sleep, the answer is yes. I'm sort of like the human energizer bunny so not that much sleep is required.

Doors opening. With this program, doors are constantly being opened. I can guarantee there's someone from USF at each sport entity in the Bay Area, you'll always have some sort of connection. With that being said, finding a foot in the door isn't as hard as you may think, but it definitely takes a little bit more to get a job or internship than just having USF next to your name. For example, with my new position with the Warriors, a classmate in cohort 41 who is interested in basketball and PR was looking for an opportunity to fill the downtime he had during his weeks. I was able to help him get in contact with the Warriors.

So, when I'm sitting at the beach and listening to this song I picture my whirlwind of a time I've had in San Francisco. My experience here can definitely resemble a wave, always moving quickly. I've learned that the amount of effort I put into jobs and connections will only help what I get out of this program. And if Lee Ann Womack ever asks, you can tell her I've been dancing during my time at USF.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Full Circle: Why I Work In Sports

So that saying, “everything happens for a reason”, is a phrase I totally believe in. No matter what the situation is, I always know it’s for a purpose. For my experiences this last month, I know there was a build up that was longer than a month, but it was the best feeling knowing it all came full circle.

For obvious reasons, sports have always been a part of my life. Being a competitive gymnast since I was seven and up until college, I’ve had my fair share of what it’s like to win. Whether it was individually or next to the teammates on the Arkansas Gymnastics team, each time had a different feeling to the win.

After retiring from gymnastics after my sophomore year, I sort of felt like my glory days were over. Since I had been competing in gymnastics for over half my life, I never expected to have a winning feeling again. Because of my competitive nature, I knew sport would be the industry I worked in, mainly to try and fill that void of competition I no longer had in my life.

Because of my early and unexpected retirement, it allowed me to build my resume before applying for grad school. Without those jobs, who knows if I would have been accepted into this program, and who knows where I’d be now. As much as I didn’t want to realize it, I knew my early retirement had a meaning.

After moving here and being a gymnastics coach in the Bay Area, I still had yet to experience winning again. Last season I worked with the Oakland Raiders and they as well did not have a winning season. Then, I worked with Stanford women’s gymnastics team and even though they qualified to nationals, I didn’t travel with the team to witness it. I still had that missing feeling.

When Vinny Espinosa from my class talked to me about his job with an independent minor league baseball team, I sort of thought the league he was explaining was a joke. It’s not affiliated with a major league team and the guys were already graduated from college, so in all honesty I thought it was sort of like an adult league.

I really didn’t expect to be as attached to this job just because it had such a short time period. But, being around the same people for 90 or more days, those feelings changed. When I first started with the San Rafael Pacifics, there was hype that they’d be the best team in the league. After a few games and seeing outings of the other teams, I started to believe that they could be the best by the end of the season.

After winning the first half of the season I started to look forward to the end knowing I would get to be a part of the championship. Even though I knew it meant the season would be over, I was really looking forward to it.  With about a week left of play, it was looking as if the Pacifics would win the second half even before the season was over.

Of course with baseball, or any sport for that matter, anything can happen. That’s the beauty of sport in my eyes. No matter the amount of talent on a team, the preparation, a ranking or record, it all comes down to that moment. Sure enough, it came down to the last game of the regular season before the Pacifics won it all.

The anxiety and nervousness I felt that whole weekend was unreal. As an athlete I rarely got nervous, if anything competing was fun. Getting to perform and show what I had been training for was always a blast. But now that I’m behind the scenes and can no longer participate, I was sort of a wreck. Maybe it was because I knew I could have that winning feeling again and I wanted it really bad.

After losing two games in a row that could have clinched the championship, the Pacifics finally won it all in the most dramatic baseball game I’ve ever witnessed. They won 11 – 8 and the teams battled back and forth the entire game. Each inning had its own drama that made it that much more exciting. As I sat in the dugout for the last inning, I just knew we were going to win. I videoed the last out, that transitioned into a dog pile, and then to the team popping champagne.

Everything had finally come full circle for me and I was finally a part of that winning feeling again.  It may have taken three years since that last feeling, but it was well worth the wait. It sounds silly, but that was the energy and moment I needed to keep me going. Everyone has those ‘stuck in a rut’ times and for me I felt like lately I had just been going through the motions.

The Pacifics reminded me that winning tastes so sweet. Being a part of this win made me realize why I fell in love with sports in the first place: working hard, seeing results and being considered a champion.

With only eight months left until I graduate, I feel as if I’ve started to realize why everything in my past has led me to where I am now. Through the ups and downs, sports were always the common denominator. More importantly, USF has opened so many doors in the business world, but even more importantly, it helped me grow as a person. Without my retirement, I probably wouldn’t be attending USF. Without USF, I wouldn’t have worked for the Pacifics. Without the Pacifics, who knows when I would have experienced another winning feeling.

Sometimes it takes a moment like this to reflect on why things happen the way they do. With eight months left until graduation, I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I know they’ll put me in the place I’m supposed to be.

2011 Regional Champions - University of Arkansas
2014 San Rafael Pacifics - Pacific Association Champions

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August Updates

Ever since I was little, I've always thought of August as a new start. Mainly because that's usually when school starts, or at least it did for me from elementary up until college. As I've explained in previous posts, the Sport Management program at USF is a little different. Even though I've been in school all summer, I still anticipate a new adventure or beginning of some sort in August.

In the last month, I've been on a whirlwind of an adventure. To start, about every two years the Sports Management program plans an international trip that counts as an elective class. With the addition of Dr. Michael Goldman from South Africa, students from multiple cohorts will be given the opportunity to study abroad in January. I was lucky enough to be chosen, so I will be starting off the new year in South Africa! I will definitely be blogging about the experience in January.

Last week, my cohort and I started a new class, 'Social Media in Sports & Entertainment'. Our professor is Brian Srabian, the Director of Digital Media for the San Francisco Giants. Being in the Bay Area not only allows me to meet and work with so many great people, but learn from the best as well (how many programs have staff from a professional team teaching classes!?). To say the least, with my love for baseball and social media, this is about to be a fun eight weeks for me.

Speaking of baseball, I went on my last baseball trip of the season down to Los Angeles to see the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. Being in SoCal and knowing some classmates from the Orange cohort (C15S), I invited three of them to the game. I think having a class in SoCal is a unique aspect of the program because it expands our network as students even more.

Orry Night, Julio Alcaraz, Ryan Morse, and I

Finally, with baseball season winding down and football beginning, back in May I reached out to the San Francisco 49ers communications department, just wanting to pick the brains of their staff, learning about what their day to day jobs are like. I asked basic informational interview questions, the kinds I asked back the first class I had with Dr. Cellini. After a few e-mails and understanding football media and getting to know them, I basically asked if there were any opportunities for me to either shadow or work game days to have first hand experience. To my surprise, they agreed to bring me on board to allow me to learn and give me that opportunity!

Press Box View at Levi's Stadium
I've learned to never be afraid to reach out because you never know what could happen. Knowing the 49ers are a top and well-known organization, I assumed they already had people in line to work the games, not thinking someone like me who sent a random e-mail would be welcomed. Turns out my assumptions were wrong. Whether you're in the Bay Area or taking courses else where, always reach out! Even if it doesn't lead to a job, making that connection could help you in the long run.

Until next time... :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Last Year, Best Year

Hi everyone! 

I am posting from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, I'm on location for Pac-12 Football Media Days. I'm about halfway through day one and it has been an awesome experience so far. I knew I would be traveling a few weeks ago, so I was able to talk to my professor in advance letting him know about this trip. All of the professors are very helpful and understanding when we miss class for work and are always willing to meet on another day to catch you up on material you missed! It definitely puts less stress on me because I have never been one to miss class. The professors really understand your work schedule or if you have cool opportunities to travel, so they are willing to do anything to help.

For this blog post, I wanted to focus on the upcoming year I have left in California. I know two blog posts ago I wrote about my last year in a review, so I’ll try and not do that again. But every time I think about it, I can’t wrap my head around the fact I’ll graduate with my Master’s degree in 10 months. It’s so cliché to say, but time has seriously flown and if you get to be a part of this amazing program, cherish and take in every single moment! It’s seriously been the best year of my life and I’m so excited for this next one.

For those who don’t know me well or haven’t picked up on my interests through previous blog posts, one thing I really like to do is travel and explore new things. At the beginning of June, I decided to go on a new adventure with a fellow classmate, Nicole Loscavio, and move to the East Bay. She was living about an hour and a half from San Francisco and got a super, amazing job with Levi’s and needed to be closer to the city. I was previously living with Alyssa Nakken and Madeleine Larsen (also in my class) in San Francisco in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. We lived three blocks from the beach and were far away from the heart of downtown, which was great. It was so quiet and peaceful in comparison to the area I worked.

With my lease coming to an end and only a year (potentially) left in California, I definitely wanted to experience something new, and the East Bay was where I felt most comfortable. Even though I live on the other side of the Bay Bridge, getting to downtown San Francisco is a lot easier than commuting from Outer Sunset. Also, the East Bay is a lot cheaper than the city. So, for those of you looking at this program or those who were already accepted and are looking for a place to live, the East Bay is definitely doable. Even though you’re across the bridge, public transportation makes it all really easy to get places.

Going along with adventures, I decided to take on a challenge of getting another job during the summer since my work at Pac-12 Networks is a little slow. I’m halfway done with my first season as the media relations assistant of the San Rafael Pacifics Baseball Club. My classmate, Vinny Espinosa, is the media relations manager, so he allowed me to come and help him out for the season. The experience has been awesome and everyone I work is amazing from the general manager to the players. It’s also a bonus getting to work with a good friend from class.

Although my time at USF is halfway over, it still feels like just yesterday I was sitting at orientation. I never would have guessed I would be doing half the things I am doing, or everything I've already done, so I can't thank USF and this program enough. If you're looking for a change or experience new things or even go back to school, I wouldn't recommend anywhere else but here.

I will definitely give updates on the next blog with whatever adventures I get into!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Keeping Up With Mike Pacini

Getting the internship of a lifetime that could set you up for success is something the current students told my cohort at orientation. Some mentioned one job or internship where everything just clicked, and they knew what they wanted to do in their careers. Others were able to experience working in their dream organization where their futures were just starting to unfold. For one of my classmates, his future is beginning to unfold.

A few weeks ago, quite a few people from cohort 39 gathered together to have one last barbecue and gathering before Mike Pacini left for New York. Mike got an internship with NBA Entertainment in the programming department for 10 weeks. Amazing, right? 

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, USF not only provides us with opportunities to intern and work with companies in the Bay Area, but also the ability to reach out beyond the Bay Area. Of course there's always the option to transfer to the Los Angeles campus if we get an opportunity in SoCal, in fact, we've had quite a few classmates from the LA cohort transfer to San Francisco. But, no one has taken an internship outside of these two areas where weekly classes aren't available. 

Here's a little bit of information about how Mike got this awesome internship and how it's going thus far:

NB: How early did you apply for the internship?
MP: I applied back in late November. The interview process included one Skype interview at 6:30 AM where I wore a jacket, tie and sweatpants. The 2nd interview was over the phone and lasted about an hour. I didn't find out till about 2 months later.

NB: What are your day to day duties?
MP: I get tasked with small project everyday, all related to media content. It may be anything from data entry to idea generation. I also get to sit in all the staff meetings, which is cool.

NB: Because this internship is in New York, what was the process you had to go through with Stan and other administrators because you'd miss so much school?
MP: Stan was aware of my application process from day one. Because this is a rare opportunity, I was allowed to miss the two classes to move to New York to work for the NBA. I'll make up the classes before I graduate (either online or with another cohort).

NB: What has been the coolest experience you've had so far?
MP: The coolest experience I've had thus far with the NBA has been a Q & A panel with Adam Silver. We will have another one with him towards the end of the program as well as one with deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. I'm also looking forward to working draft night later this month. 

NB: Are there any major projects you will be a part of once you have more experience in this organization?

MP: We have this project called the "Think Tank" where myself and 6 other grad interns will ultimately present our research on global e-commerce to NBA Senior executives.

Just a few photos Mike has sent me over the weeks
Mike will return to us in August, so until then I'll keep everyone updated on his adventure in New York. As I've said before, having the ability to move across the country for an internship without putting a stop to classwork is just one of the perks USF provides. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One More Year

As my cohort and I sat in the third internship meeting, Dr. Cellini reminded us how we will be graduating in one year and to reflect on the last 10 months of our experience here at USF. My thoughts went 100 miles per hour, and I know these next 359 days will only go faster. As I sat there, I thought about all of the different things I've accomplished so far, and all the memories I've made with friends.

In the top left picture, while working as the meet director for Stanford's women's gymnastics team, I was able to see two of my high school teammates that I trained with in Texas. At each meet this year, I was able to see old friends and coaches who shaped me into the person I am today. Although we've been away from each other for about four years now, it's always a good feeling being able to pick up with people right where you left off. Having good friends is always a plus, but I think having that ability to keep up with contacts makes it easier to connect and network with people. And as you know, networking is everything.

In the top right picture, I captured a memory I'll never forget and that was working the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Days during my second week at Pac-12 Networks. That was definitely a day where I was tested by being thrown in the mix without much direction. That day actually went really well and seeing everything behind the scenes was definitely the highlight of my day. This definitely taught me that when you're hired for a job, they expect you to be able to pull your own weight and your hand won't be held through the process. I went with my instincts that day and it taught me to go with my instincts no matter what the situation might be.

The picture below that is of Krystal Temkin (cohort 39), myself, and Desirae Burkley (cohort 39) wearing helmets from the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Days. We had a little down time, so why not pretend to be football players? Sometimes I can take work and myself a little too seriously, so this always reminds me it's okay to take a breather and to have fun.

To the left of that is a snapchat I sent way back on July 9th of my roommate, Alyssa Nakken (cohort 39) and I. This was on our way to orientation. I still get butterflies thinking about how nervous I was! I always smile looking back on that day mainly because it was the start of an experience I never imagined. I can guarantee I wouldn't believe it if you told me everything I had done in these last 10 months during that car ride to orientation. I had no need to be as nervous as I was.

The picture to the left of that was the most recent picture I took. It was taken May 18th, after Heather Vandevanter (cohort 39) and I ran the Bay To Breakers race. It was a 12k race which is 7.46 miles. It started by the Bay Bridge and finished by Ocean beach so we literally ran across San Francisco. I've always been a fan of races, so doing one that is so well known in the Bay Area has been a highlight for me.

The next picture to the left is of Nicole Loscavio (cohort 39) and I at the Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics game. Although we're good friends, we were rivals that night as our favorite teams battled for a win. It's always fun when my favorite teams come to town, especially when I get to go with a friend rooting for the other.

The picture below that is of my father and I. Last fall, I worked with the Oakland Raiders as a member of the Premium Services Game Day Staff. Being so far away from my family is definitely hard, so when I knew what day the Kansas City Chiefs were coming to Oakland, I had to get my dad there. As an early Christmas present, I was able to get him a ticket and fly him out to visit and see his team. My dad and I have always been the sport fans of our family, so being able to work for a team and do this for him was something I'll always cherish.

The last photo to the right of my dad and I is when a few of us went to a USF Men's Basketball game where they were trying to set a world record of how many people could be in a room with fake mustaches. Mike Pacini, Thomas Sweeney, Nick Walsh, Austen Powers and I all went to this fun event (and even got Don's masks).

All these memories were made in just a short 10 months and those aren't even all of them.With each memory has a lesson, and those lessons I try to apply to my daily routine. Whether it's a professional or personal lesson, USF has been more than just a learning experience in the classroom. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

New Places, New Faces

Can y’all believe it’s already the end of April? I’m still in a little bit of shock how quickly this year has gone by. My cohort and I have been to seven meetings through our fifth class, which means next week, I’ll only have 7 classes left before graduation (the program has 12 classes, I go to school once a week, one class is eight weeks long). CRAZY. I still can’t figure out how to slow down time.

So, after traveling to Arizona in the last post, I decided to go back and visit again during the last weekend in March. I know, I’ve already been told I’m crazy. But, I did make a resolution to take advantage of my opportunities and I need to live up to it, right? Not only this but it has taken me eight months to explore outside the city, just because I was always working on weekends. Just like the last trip, I met with people within MLB organizations to expand my network. I’ve learned that no matter where you’re going (or if you’re favorite team is coming to town) you should always reach out to see if someone is willing to talk. You never know how far that connection could take you.

Two weeks later, I joined a couple of the guys in my cohort for a weekend trip to Los Angeles. Nick Walsh, Adam Johansen, and Thomas Sweeney (all from cohort 39) and I went down there to see the New York Mets play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Nick is from New Jersey and is a diehard Mets fan while Adam is the Angels fan. I want to visit every ballpark in the country, so I wanted to cross the Angels stadium off of my list.

Myself, Nick, Sweeney, and Adam at Angels Stadium
For the record, I couldn't wear red and have it be mistaken for 'Angels red', so I decided to represent my favorite team, the Rangers (I am a Dallas girl). The only one who didn't represent a favorite team was Sweeney (he's a Brewers fan and told me how lame I was for wearing a Rangers jersey). The game went to 13 innings and the Mets came away with the win, so at least Nick was happy. Overall it was a fun weekend and I definitely need to go back to visit the Dodgers Stadium, as well as the Padres which is two hours south of LA! While we were there, we tried to hang out with Cohort 15S (the LA cohort that started in July with us), but we told them of our LA plans a little too late to where they were all busy. But hopefully next time!

With all the traveling that I've done over these last two months, it has really given me another perspective of the sport industry. I already knew there's a lot of opportunity within this field, but I think lately living in the Bay Area for the last 9 months has only had me thinking about this area since there are so many people and so many opportunities in sport. 

Each day, all of the USF Sport Management students are sent e-mails with job and internship opportunities within the Bay, LA area, and even beyond state borders. I've been told a few stories about how a few people from earlier cohorts accepted positions for the summer outside of California but still managed to stay on course with their schoolwork. This definitely got me thinking about having a potential summer stint somewhere other than the Bay Area. After talking with Stan Fasci, he reassured that it's definitely possible, especially if it's an opportunity in an industry that I'm passionate about and hope to end up in.

I don't think many graduate programs can say that. I've already said multiple times how great this USF program is, but I don't think others could compete in the fact of their students staying on top of their work with an internship outside of where ever their campus may be. This is just another cool perk that this program has along with everything else that it offers.

As I've learned and said before, it's all about networking and who you know. USF not only gives you a large network within being in the program, but it also gives you an opportunity to create an even larger one outside of the Bay and LA area.