Name one go-to resource (or two or three) that helps you with your duties.
What are the trends in athletic facilities and operations? What are other programs doing for their student-athletes? How can I build a better team or be a better leader? The best place to find this information is with publications, professional organizations, and leadership books. I’m constantly reading articles or listening to podcasts/videos on athleticops.com, ncaa.com, ncaa.org, d1ticker.com, collegead.com, etc. I am an active member of CEFMA which is the professional organization for collegiate athletic administrators with a focus on facilities and event management. It is extremely beneficial to be a part of an organization full of people who have the same passion as you do. Every one of us in CEFMA experience similar situations and challenges on a daily basis. We give each other feedback and suggestions to challenges which helps us become more efficient and effective. Two of the top authors I like to read are Simon Sinek and Jon Gordon. Two recommendations are Leaders Eat Last (Simon Sinek) and You Win in the Locker Room First (Jon Gordon/Mike Smith).
What’s the best piece of advice that you could give to your younger self?
I wish I could have told my younger self to get out of my comfort zone and look towards networking at an earlier age. It’s tough to get into this profession without the right connections. The second part of that is to work hard and be positive! The way you stay in this profession and continue to grow is by the positive impacts you leave with everyone that you encounter. This is an amazing career that I am fortunate to be in, but it is easy to take it for granted. You may have to work long hours, you may not be paid very well, you may not get a thank you every day, but we continuously have to remind ourselves of our “why”, and that is to make a difference in our student-athletes’ lives.
Name one new thing you want to accomplish within the next year?
One of the main reasons I took the position at Sacramento State is to build an Events Center on our campus. I believe in the leadership of President Robert Nelsen and our Director of Athletics, Mark Orr, to deliver this project to the Sacramento community within the next few years. I really look forward to get the ball rolling by spearheading this project over the next year. This will be a huge assignment for me, and something that I am excited to be a part of in the future. We are in the beginning stages of creating a better experience for our student-athletes, university, and community.
First event, person, or job that sparked your interest in this field of work.
There are so many events and responsibilities that will make you fall in love with this profession, but the people I have worked with will always have the largest effect on my career in college athletics. Kevin Sponzo (Sr. Assoc. AD, Seton Hall University) has been such an inspiration from the very beginning once I realized this was the profession for me. Formerly a baseball student-athlete at Seton Hall University, I was able to see how hard the staff and Kevin, my sport administrator, worked around all the student-athletes to offer us the best experience. I wanted that same rewarding feeling in a career, and here I am ten years later still on that mission.
Tell us a story of the most unusual, craziest, or unexpected thing that has happened during your tenure in operations and how you handled it.
When I first started my career in college athletics, I never would have thought that I’d be worried about wildfires. Now being in Sacramento, that has been a reality over the past two weeks. Camp Fire has been a devastation to Butte County, and has had lasting effects on the areas around Northern California. We have continually monitored the air quality throughout the past week, and have had to cancel or postpone a few games. We prepared by creating contingency plans for every possible outcome for our home scheduled contests during this period. Campus has been closed over the past week after the university’s Critical Response Committee met daily, and our department have been working behind the scenes to keep our student-athlete’s safety as our number one priority. It’s all about having the right people in the room, or on the phone, to discuss what the best scenario is for all parties. During the time of the cancellation of our previous football game, we had both institution’s presidents, athletics directors, head coaches, trainers, home event operations manager and media coordinator. We made sound judgments to come up with the decision, and then executed a proper communication plan to all groups.
Talk about a group or organization that you’re working with that is near and dear to your heart.
I have become heavily reliant on my campus partners to operate within the California State University system. There is a lot of collaboration and coordination that goes into the responsibilities of athletic facilities and operations. Teamwork is vital when working with several departments. Regardless if we are working with facilities management, university police, and/or any other campus entity it is vital to build relationships. Everyone from the night custodians, to the plumber, to the VP of Facilities, or the Police Chief are important. We need to know the right person to contact at any moment, and we need to know that they will be flexible and reliable on short notice. I know that my team and I are extremely thankful for every department on campus that has supported us when we needed assistance. I was even able to throw a thank you gathering together to thank our campus partners by serving breakfast burritos and athletic gear!