First Look – Champions in the Field: Mount Alumni Make Strides of Success in Cleveland

July 22, 2016

First Look – Champions in the Field: Mount Alumni Make Strides of Success in Cleveland

For many in northeast Ohio, Cleveland sports are everything.

It comes as no surprise, then, that so many Mount Union sport business alumni choose “The Land” when pursuing and continuing careers in the sport industry. Whether it’s working for the Cavaliers, Indians, Lake Erie Monsters, Browns, or other sports

organizations headquartered in Cleveland, many alumni are beginning and furthering their careers in northeast Ohio.

“The Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Cavs family of teams (Cleveland Cavs, Lake Erie Monsters, Cleveland Gladiators and Canton Charge) are highly regarded in the sport industry for their employment of best business practices,” said Dr. Jim Kadlecek, associate professor of human performance and sport business at Mount Union. “This provides graduating students with entry-level opportunities at organizations that will train them well and commit to their professional development.” 

Read more about some of Mount Union’s exceptional alumni working in the sport business industry in Cleveland throughout the story.

 

 

Pavilack

 

 

 Huzicka

 

 

 Kalister

 

 

 Wall

 

 Stehlik

 

 Strauch

 V

 Henegar

Robbins

 

Parsons

Austin Pavilack ’15
Account Executive, Cleveland Browns

I work closely with businesses and individuals in northeastern Ohio in regard to purchasing season seats, groups, suites and premium hospitality for Browns games at First Energy Stadium.

What do you enjoy most about working in Cleveland?
The passion of the sports fans in this city is second to none. Working with these people has been a ton of fun. I also enjoy a lot of the food spots around the city.

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland sports?
The community feel. You truly feel as if you are a part of something greater than yourself. I don’t think that is the case for a lot of cities around the country. In Cleveland, everyone roots for the sports teams no matter their performance.

How did Mount Union help you find your passion for sport business?
I took a sport sales class at Mount Union my junior year and it really opened up my eyes to the possibility of sales. From there, it inspired me to pursue a few internships before graduation. I believe that class propelled me to where I am today.

In your opinion, what is the best part of your profession?
I truly enjoy connecting with individuals and businesses around the area and helping them bring their passion and love for the Browns into First Energy Stadium every other Sunday. Meeting clients on a game day and seeing their excitement is what it’s all about!

 

 

Bridget Huzicka ’02
Director of Corporate Partnership Activation, Cleveland Browns

The activation team manages all of our current corporate relationships by delivering marketing programs to our partners to help enhance their business. Our team works hand-in-hand with each corporate partner to make sure they are receiving the best possible business return on investment with the Cleveland Browns.

What types of opportunities does Cleveland offer sport business professionals?  
Cleveland is a great city in which to pursue a sports career. The teams are progressive in how they approach their businesses and how they look to develop positive and memorable fan experiences. We see this with upgrades to facilities and venues for the fans, usage of data and analytics on both the team and business sides, the innovations around social media and digital platforms and more. If you have passion for the industry, understand the importance of hard work and have a desire to be creative and innovative, you should pursue any opportunity that is available with our sports teams. 

Why would you encourage current students to major in sport business?
The opportunities that the Mount Union sport business program provides are fantastic. The professors have decades of experience in the industry, have a strong and connected network of sports professionals and provide their students with the first-hand experience that every student should be given. The industry is beyond books and exams. You’ll quickly learn if the industry is for you thanks to the experiences you’ll get from the Mount Union sport business program. 

 

 

Matt Kalister ’05
Director of Ticket Sales and Service, Lake Erie Monsters and Cleveland Gladiators

My role is to oversee our ticket revenue teams for the Monsters and Gladiators at Quicken Loans Arena. We have a sales and service team that sells and services all of our season tickets, partial plans and groups for both the Monsters and Gladiators.

What do you enjoy most about working in Cleveland?
I feel like this is a turning point in the city of Cleveland’s history. The city is booming with young professionals coming to work and live downtown. It’s exciting to be a part of something bigger than just our day-to-day job.

How did the sport business program at Mount Union help prepare you for your future?
The amount of experience I gained while I was in school was priceless. I was much more prepared to start working in this industry than some of my other coworkers from around the country. Whether it was internship experience or class projects that forced me to think about the bigger picture of the sports world, it all helped prepare me for the first steps in my career when I graduated.

In your opinion, what is the best part of your profession?
I love walking into a packed arena and knowing that I helped play a part in creating that environment for our teams on the ice, court, field, etc. It’s an amazing feeling to see that all of the hard work our sales and service teams put in has a true impact on game days.

 

 

Gina Wall ’15
Group Event Specialist, Cleveland Cavaliers

My main focus is to bring in new groups to Quicken Loans Arena.

What does the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship mean to the city?
It means so much to both myself and the City of Cleveland. It will open opportunities for everyone. It finally gives people hope for more successes in the future.

How did Mount Union help you find your passion for sport business?
I played soccer throughout my four years. I didn’t want to leave that bond behind. Mount also taught me everything I know with regard to working in the sports world.

How did the sport business program at Mount Union help prepare you for your future?
We always had realistic projects that you could put on your resume.

Who was your favorite professor at Mount Union and why?
Dr. Lori Braa! She always made things so much fun and upbeat. She made me realize that I can make it extremely far in the sports world.

In your opinion, what is the best part of your profession?
I love making people happy! That is hands down the best part of my job. I love knowing that a product I sold someone is constructed to be the best fit for that specific person.

 

Brent Stehlik ’99
Executive Vice President/Chief Revenue Officer, Cleveland Browns

Currently, I oversee all aspects of revenue generation and marketing for the franchise, including corporate partnership sales and activation, ticket sales and service, suite and premium sales, concessions, merchandising, marketing, creative services, content and production, digital media, fan experience and special events efforts for the club.

In your opinion, what is the best part of your profession?
The ability we have to impact so many lives. From our staff, to our community, to all of the fans…sports can build friendships, transcend cultures and render even the most heated battles temporarily irrelevant.

What types of opportunities does Cleveland offer sport business professionals?
Seemingly unlimited amounts of opportunities to network and learn from open and honest industry professionals.

How did the sport business program at Mount Union help prepare you for your future?
It provided a great support system with the professors and pushed students outside of their comfort zones. One example is all of the presentations versus written exams.

 

 

Lindsay (Wise ‘04) Strauch
Manager of Corporate Partnership Activation, Cleveland Browns

I manage and retain our corporate partnership accounts.

Why did you decide to work in Cleveland?  
I enjoy working in Cleveland because it is close to my extended family, and I love living near Lake Erie.

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland sports?
I love Cleveland sports because of the passionate fan base. It is inspiring. I hope I am part of bringing this town a Cleveland Browns championship!

Who was your favorite professor at Mount Union and why?
Dr. Jim Thoma and Dr. Jim Kadlecek are my two favorites! They both invested in me by helping me get internships and connecting me directly with other sports teams and executives. They are very passionate about their students and want them to succeed.

How did the sport business program at Mount Union help prepare you for your future?
I completed six internships while attending Mount Union and the opportunity to work at the National Sports Forum allowed me to build a great networking base.

 

Nick Volsko ’08
Director of Corporate Partnerships, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

I am responsible for increasing organizational revenue through strategic partnerships for Greater Cleveland Sports Commission-owned events.

What do you enjoy most about working in Cleveland?
I enjoy the lifestyle. The vibe here is so different than any other city. You can sense that people have great pride for their city and they are not afraid to show it.

What types of opportunities does Cleveland offer sport business professionals?
Not every city is fortunate to have three major league teams and an AHL, AFL and multiple minor league teams nearby. Additionally, organizations like the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Home Team Marketing provide great non-team related opportunities. Sport business professionals have many options in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland sports?
I love how this city breathes sports. Win or lose, this city has passion for its teams.

 

Cari Henegar ’00
Senior Manager of Partnership Development, Cleveland Cavaliers

I grow and renew existing partnerships/sponsorships. 

Why would you encourage current students to major in sport business? 
There is definitely a cool factor to working in sports but it’s key to remember that it is still a business and not always fun and games. You are playing a role in helping someone make memories.

In your opinion, what is the best part of your profession? 
After 18 seasons, it is always different and always changing.  I’m not sure there are many other industries that can say that. I feel like no two days are the same. Obviously at this moment, I am at the pinnacle of my career and I can proudly say I work for the NBA Champions!

 

Ryan Robbins ’00
Director of Corporate Partnerships, Cleveland Indians

In my role at the Indians, I lead our Premium Department in sales and service, which includes all of our suites and the Infiniti Club.

Why did you decide to work in Cleveland?
I’ve worked in other markets around the country, and I’ve always said that if I can do what I enjoy doing and do it for a team in Cleveland then that is the best place for me.  

What is your favorite thing about Cleveland sports?
There is such great history with our teams, and that connection is what makes Cleveland special. People appreciate that and when we take Indians alumni players around to meet fans, there is always a special story from when a client was growing up and what game or play they remember.

How did Mount Union help you find your passion for sport business?
The passion of the professors comes through in their knowledge and network with leaders in the industry.

Why would you encourage current students to major in sport business?
It is a very rewarding career and you can really have an impact on people’s lives in a positive way. That can come in the form of creating a memory for a family or helping business clients transform their businesses.

 

 

MacKenzie Parsons ’14
Account Coordinator, Home Team Marketing

I communicate daily with parent companies, contact new business leads, create contracts for new clients, organize the new hire on-boarding process and complete data and analytical research.

What do you enjoy most about working in Cleveland?
My favorite part about working in Cleveland is the diversity. Cleveland brought me to some really incredible people.

How did the sport business program at Mount Union help prepare you for your future?
The professors in the program provided me with so many opportunities to help prepare me for a future in sport business. They set up guest speakers, interview assignments, real-life sales experiences, event planning projects and so much more. Throughout my career thus far, I’ve come across multiple projects that were assigned in sport business classes that have been applied to real-life scenarios.

 

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