Interested in a career in sports? Manchester Parks & Rec helps

By Sally Tippett Rains

Breaking into the sports industry can be overwhelming for someone who knows they want to pursue a job in the field of sports, but can’t narrow down what they want to do. Some don’t even know all the jobs that are out there.

The Manchester Parks Department organized a “Career in Sports” panel discussion with people from various sports jobs on Feb. 9. The idea for the presentation came from Drew Hill, Recreation Specialist for the Manchester Parks and Arts Department. He wanted to create a panel that brought many years of experience and insight in the sports industry and invite people to come hear about their jobs and ask questions. Hill, shown left, was the emcee and kept the discussion flowing.

“The idea to offer the seminar came to me when I first started in my position back in June,” said Hill s  “As I looked back through my own career in sports and the different things I’ve done, I began to realize just how vast the sports industry really is.

“Trying to decide what you want to pursue in sports can be overwhelming and intimidating, given the number of options that exist. So, I thought to myself, what can I do to help in my new role? I decided that putting together a panel of local sports professionals could be a great resource for young individuals that are interested in working in sports and don’t know where to start.”

The first speaker was Jacob McGillicuddy, Directors of Operations for Soccer Shots. He is responsible for program operations including season start up, scheduling, in-season programming, program growth and community involvement. Soccer Shots is a children’s soccer program which focusses on character development. Someone who might like to be a coach or instructor could choose a career like that. McGillucuddy has a degree in Health and Human Performance.

One of the things stressed at the seminar was the vast number of degree types that one could get to have a career in sports.

Riley Flynn, a trainer and sports performance coach at Athletic Republic was an example of someone who likes to play sports and wanted a career where he was active. He attended Webster University and was a successful athlete who graduated with a B.S. in Science in Exercise.

Flynn, shown right, and the other panelists stressed the importance of taking internships. When. He was a student at Webster, he got an intrn with NutriFormance and Athletic Republic where he worked with a pitching program called Mach I. He was hired by the company and since he had been on the Cross Country team he aspires to train endurance athletes such as Cross Country runners.

The organizer, Hill, had previously worked at Lindenwood University so knew many with sports jobs at the university. There were several people from Lindenwood displaying how there are various types of sports job even under one umbrella.

Blake Bunton, shown, left, the Athletics Communications Director for Lindenwood University wears many hats which take advantage of several aspects of sports such as website, statistical data, press release writing and others. He  talked about his job and wanted prospective students aiming for sports careers to know the hours are not always easy. He is often at work very late at night.

Rob Rains, of said it’s important to have a family or circle of friends who understand you may have to celebrate a holiday the day before or after if it falls on game day. There are long hours and you don’t get weekends or holidays off.

Fans love game days and often get to relax and have a social. gathering around a game, but to a sports journalist or someone working at the game in any capacity, it is their job and– their office is the ballpark.

Rains also stressed that getting practical experience is just as important and maybe more important than the college classes. If a student wants to be a sports writer they should watch games and then practice writing stories. The same goes for someone who wants to go into broadcasting. They should turn the sound down and practice doing play-by-play into a tape recorder.

All panel members agreed that while they worked long hours, sometimes many right in a row, it is a fun career. Some of the good perks of a career in sports are often you get to wear jeans, golf or tee shirts and you are doing something you probably grew up loving.

Matt Kenyon is a broadcaster from Lindenwood—he’s the “Voice of the Lindenwood Lions Men and Women’s’ Ice Hockey” as well as other sports. He also stressed internships are helpful as he had one at Fans 590 the radio station. He was also an intern as a digital media coordinator with the St. Louis Junior Blues. Along with his broadcast abilities, he has knowledge of graphic design, video production, media relations, sports management and sales so if a position would open up in another department, he would have options. That seems unlikely for a while as he portrayed to the crowd that he really enjoy what he does.

Austin Holtgrieve, shown left,  is the Lindenwood Athletic Event Operations Director. Though his daily work may be in the area of setting up and running events, he stressed that he has people under him so he has to work on budgets and financials as well as website and statistical data. Being well-rounded can help when looking to get hired.

One person who knows that it takes many different skills and hard work is Matt Roach the Activities and Athletic Director for Parkway South High School. For 14 years he taught physical education and health. He was the Boys Basketball coach and Girls Cross Country coach before becoming Athletic Director. He has an advanced Secondary Administration Degree and like Holtgrieve he has to work with budgets and financials.

Every coach feels their sport is the most important and those who run activities feel theirs is most important, so it is the director’s job to work with all of them. Besides the classes and degrees, someone in those positions require good decision making skills as well as management and people-skills.

Sometimes working in sports is just not “sports,” it is working with people and finding ways for everyone to feel valued and included.

Overall, most of the panelists encouraged anyone who may want to consider a career in sports to explore all the different aspects to choose from. They all talked about the importance of interships and getting noticed. If you get a job or internship, volunteer to do things others might not be willing to do.

One panelist was told on his first day he could go around and observe, but he was warned that if he went to the general manager he would be assigned jobs. He headed straight for the general manager and volunteered.

The seminar lasted an hour with a half-hour reserved for people in the audience to come up and meet the various panelists and ask individual questions.

Event organizer Hill was very pleased with the great turn-out and enthusiasm of those who came.

“We were fortunate to find a group of professionals that were willing to participate as panelists, with their experiences spanning areas such as journalism, broadcasting, operations, coaching, performance, marketing, among other things.”

If interested in finding out about future events of his type, contact the Manchester Parks, Recreation and Arts.


Editor’s Note: Sally Tippett Rains was one of the panelists at the event, talking about a career in sports from the woman’s perspective and there were several young women in the audience with interest in pursuing a sports job.


Sign up for our free STL Sports Blast Newsletter: CLICK HERE


About stlsportspage 2424 Articles
For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.