March / April Facts & Figures
Year in Review
SBC Executive Board Graduates
Alumni Feature Spotlight
Q & A
Please describe your journey to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee?
Following several internships at Wisconsin, my first real-world, full-time job was as a communications intern at the Big Ten Conference in Chicago. In that role, I managed media relations for several sports and helped execute the Big Ten Football Championship Game and the Big Ten Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. The ONLY reason I was able to start my career at the Big Ten is because SBC visited the office during its annual winter trip, so I was able to network and make connections during the visit.
After nearly two years at the Big Ten, I really hoped to next work in community relations. I moved to South Florida to work as the communications coordinator for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, which is a nonprofit within the Miami Dolphins that raises money for cancer research. Shout out to SBC vice president Amanda Wiener, who had been working for the Miami Dolphins and helped me get that role - I wouldn't be where I am today without her. While I only stayed with the DCC for one season, it was incredibly rewarding to know that every ounce of work I did was ultimately helping those who are fighting cancer.
When I was in Florida, I would daydream about living in Colorado - the outdoors, the lifestyle, the activities and the seasons. While I don't encourage daydreaming at work, it was very clear to me that I wanted to live in Colorado, so I decided to focus my job search there. In early 2016, I learned of someone who used to work at the Big Ten that worked for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, so I set up a networking call. With a bunch of luck and fortunate timing, the USOPC opened a communications role a few months later. I was able to interview, get the role as communications specialist and move to Colorado Springs, Colorado in April 2016. I've since been at the USOPC for four years, spending one year as a communications specialist, three years as a Paralympic press officer and then Paralympic communications manager, and recently transitioned into my current role as marketing communications manager.
To summarize the long-winded answer, I would not be where I am today without keeping in touch with my contacts, working hard and, most importantly, having incredible luck and timing in my job searches. Searching for the right job can be a tough, long process, but things have a way of working out!
What does a typical day look like for you and can you describe your favorite day or favorite part of your job?
One of the best parts of my job is that each day is so different. Whether it's showcasing the incredible talent and stories of Team USA athletes, pitching positive storylines about the USOPC, managing publicity campaigns, executing marketing campaigns, helping plan USOPC media events or assisting other departments with communications, I feel very fortunate to be in the role I'm in. I work with some super incredible people and genuinely enjoy going into work each day.
The best part of my job is being able to work with such amazing athletes and help tell their stories. I have to rewind a bit to talk about my favorite day, which happened when I was in Paralympic communications. As the press officer, I traveled to several world cups and world championships, spending a lot of time with athletes and getting to know their story, accomplishments and goals. Over time, I have become close with Oksana Masters (three-sport athlete and eight-time Paralympic medalist - she's a badass, look her up!!). Oksana is such a powerhouse and was projected to win A LOT of medals at the PyeongChang Paralympic Games in 2018, but three weeks before leaving for South Korea, she slipped on ice and dislocated her elbow. She was absolutely crushed. Yet somehow, I was able to watch her win TWO gold medals in PyeongChang - injury and all. I don't cry often, but I bawled like a baby when I met her at the finish line and saw her face light up at her first Paralympic gold medal. Best day EVER.
What would be your message or words of advice to students seeking employment in sports currently or people within the industry in general?
I know that everyone says this, and you will probably roll your eyes as you read this, but networking really does make a huge difference. Having an "in" with a company or knowing someone who can give a good word for you is clutch. Spend some time on LinkedIn to either find professionals who have your dream job, or pinpoint your dream league, team or agency and network with those folks. Most people are genuinely happy to help others in their careers.
My other piece of advice is to look outside of sports as you try to build your resume, whether it's internships, unpaid work, volunteering, etc. As best you can, determine the area of work you wish to pursue and build up the skillset that is relevant to what you want to do. If communications is your passion, build your resume with work in that field across ANY industry. Skillsets transfer over to sports. At the end of the day, you want to show that you have worked hard and have familiarity in your area of work, but don't feel it has to only be from the sports industry.
How have you all handled the Olympics and Paralympics being postponed and what has the process been like?
First off, what a surreal and unprecedented time we are all in. There's no blueprint to how any of this works or how we all should adapt.
The Olympics and Paralympics postponement definitely turned our world upside down. People - whether it's athletes, families, friends, NBC, USOPC, sponsors, the organizing committee in Tokyo - have been planning for this sporting event to come to life for, quite literally, years. Our team has to go back to the drawing board on so many things - budget, athlete qualifications, travel logistics, sponsor assets, donor asks, media events…the list goes on and on. It's definitely been surreal to be part of, but as always, we'll adapt and move forward. When the Olympics and Paralympics do come to life next, it will be such an incredible moment that will prove sport has the power to bring together people from all corners of the globe.
How do you see sports changing as a result of CoVid-19? Do you anticipate normalcy after a period of time or do you see this changing sports as we know it?
I'm not a medical or science professional, so I don't know anything more than what I read in the news. I feel the sporting world will look incredibly different this year - for athletes, fans, media, front office staff, sponsors, etc. We may see games without fans, media rooms without journalists, more digital/virtual activations for sponsors. We'll all get creative as we adapt to this pandemic. I'm hopeful that we'll return to a new "normal" in a few years, but I think this year will look unlike anything we've ever seen.
What is your favorite sports moment as a fan or as an employee?
One of the most surreal, "what is my life" moments happened during the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. I had just moved across the country, moved to a new city where I knew no one, started a new job…and somehow found myself sitting in the media section of the pool in Rio de Janeiro, watching Michael Phelps (G.O.A.T.) swim the final race of his career. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.
What was your favorite moment during your time with SBC and/or why were you drawn to the club and what made it the right fit for you?
SBC was such an instrumental part of my experience at Wisconsin. I met some incredible people along the way who I still keep in touch with today. The club had everything I wanted, whether it was learning from speakers, going on trips to the Packers or Bulls, getting career advice or meeting people in the industry. I truly wouldn't be where I am today without the connections I made and the experience I gained through SBC.
2020-21 Club Leadership
A Word from the New Alumni Director
Hi alumni, my name is Michael Neiman. As your incoming Alumni and Development Director, I look forward to getting to know you all better in order to provide an enjoyable, insightful, and beneficial year for yourselves and current SBC members. To do so, I will be bolstering the alumni mentorship program by adding a supplementary competition to the program where we are looking to crown our inaugural SBC Mentor of the Year. Details TBA. I also am excited to plan Alumni Weekend in a way that maximizes the impact on our members while still accommodating for the busy weekend. Finally, I am looking to identify and support ways to retain our 343(!) members to create a more inclusive and dynamic environment for all.
As for myself, I am a coastie. I was born on Staten Island, New York and grew up in Northern New Jersey. My dad, a born and bred Pennsylvanian, made sure to quickly pass on his generational fandom for the Philadelphia Eagles before I reached the New York Giants’ target demographic. By the time I chose to come to Madison, I was quite comfortable being in enemy territory. Since meeting the Sports Business Club and committing to pursue a career in team-side sponsorships, I have completed a marketing internship with the Madison Capitols where I founded the @dollarbeernation on Instagram. I have also spent the past two seasons with the UW Ticket Office. This summer, I am holding onto the hope of summer baseball and being able to represent the Madison Mallards as an activations intern.
I can’t wait to get back and get started!
SBC Alums & Podcasts
March / April / May Events Recap
March 2nd - UW Athletics Panel & Networking
March 9th - Mock Interviews
May 11th - Alumni Video Chat