Spotlight On: Mike Mammarella-Smith, Rutgers Athletics

Mike Mammarella-Smith
Assistant Director of Facilities, Events and Operations
Rutgers University Athletics
Hometown: Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Education: East Stroudsburg; California University of Pennsylvania
Official bio
Twitter: @mike_smitty25

What do the first two hours of your day look like?

Before I start my day I make sure that I have a cup of coffee to prepare me for the morning.  Usually my first two hours consist of responding to emails, going over any post-game notes from the night before, creating new notes for potential meetings I may have and also checking my weekly to do list to make sure I am up to speed with everything.

Usually I try to get in the office pretty early to give myself some time to catch up on the D1 Ticker and Athletic Business just stay up to date with current news.  The best part I like about working in facilities and operations is that no two days are ever alike, which is amazing.  One day could be filled with events and your running around like a chicken with its head cut off and the next day could be slow and steady with nothing going on.

Name one go-to resource (or two or three) that helps you with your duties. 

One go-to resource that helps me with my duties on a daily basis is Teamworks.  Even though Teamworks is primarily used by the teams as an athlete engagement platform, we use it for scheduling our facilities (practices, competitions, rentals, and meetings).  One great thing about this app is that we can access every team’s schedule, which helps us because we know when they are practicing, off or traveling for an away competition.

Another resource I use heavily in the spring time for lightning detection is DTN (Weather Sentry Sports Edition).  Working in event operations we needed a system that we could rely on and feel confident about when it comes to detecting lightning in the area.  This app has been great in that aspect, which has allowed us to change game times accordingly depending of the severity of the weather.

Also CEFMA,, and are great resources to use because there is so much information sharing between people that it can benefit anyone.  There are countless of resources on these websites that can help answer questions one may have or even better see how other colleagues handle situations

Name one new thing you want to accomplish within the next year?

One new thing I want to accomplish within the next year is to create a manual that lists all of my duties, sports, facilities and other miscellaneous things that I may do, but no one thinks of.  This would be great resource because if I ever need someone to cover for me they can refer to the manual(s).  Another thing I would like to accomplish this year is to be fully knowledgeable of the NCAA rules for the sports I oversee.  I know the rules from an event operations perspective, but to understand to sport fully would be beneficial.

As you look at the athletic operations field, what is one area that is growing/changing the most?

In our profession it’s easy to say that everything is growing/changing, but facilities and security are the two most notable changes.  Every university wants to enhance the student-athlete experience by building new facilities to accommodate their needs (nutrition, strength training and academics).  We are seeing universities spend millions of dollars to create these facilities to not only accommodate to the student-athletes but to the fans as well.

I believe Creighton University just opened up the Ruth Scott Training Center for women’s basketball and volleyball.  This facility includes an automated volleyball net system which makes set-up and breakdown much easier than before.  Small innovations like this that are easily accessible make our lives easier.

When building these facilities, we tend to see new security measures added to allow access in the building.  I read an article that optic scanners are starting to make their way into how people can access buildings.  This brings me into the way we handle security in these venues.  Most of the events generate large crowds in a concentrated area, which makes them targets for attacks.  We are starting to see a large shift in venues having a clear bag policy and adding metal detectors prior entry.  Even the way our event staff is trained is always changing because they have to be prepared for any situation as well.  It is our responsibility to secure our facilities and protect the fans that come.

Best career or work advice you ever received.

My best work advice that I have ever received was “No job is too small”, which came from my boss at the time (Jason Nelson, Director of Operations at Southern Methodist University).  He preached this to me my first day on the job and it will stick with me throughout my career.  I think this is the greatest piece of advice because it showed me that no matter how big of a role you have, you can always lend a hand to help others to get the job done.  This could range from picking up a piece of trash or even helping the grounds workers, custodians, electricians and other members of different departments.  While doing this you get to form great working relationships with your co-workers, which helps develop one’s interpersonal skills.

First event, person or job that sparked your interest in this field of work.

The first event that sparked my interest in facilities, events and operations was when I was a track & field athlete at East Stroudsburg University and we hosted our annual Deschriver Invitational.  Not only was I competing in this meet, but I was also responsible for setting up the throwing area.  All of the events besides the throwing events take place in Koehler Fieldhouse, but the throwing events take place in Zimbar Gym which is a multipurpose space that the physical education majors use.  Normally we practice in Koehler with the rest of the team, but since the throwing events take up a large area Zimbar Gym was perfect.  The week of the meet we had to break down the throwing cage and transport it to Zimbar, so we could set it up the day before the actual meet.

Looking back, it’s funny because the throwers were in charge of setting the cage up, laying the tarps down, creating the throwing sectors to whereas there are crews who take care of this for you now.  After this I reached out the AD to see if I could be a part of the operations crew and help with set-up or even work any home athletic events we had and from that day on I knew I wanted to pursue a career in facilities, events and operations.  This opportunity gave me a chance to see sports from a different perspective other than the student-athlete one.


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