5 benefits to working in minor league sports
by zach fahey - manager, client services at the iowa wild | October 24, 2019
I’ve worked in sports for nearly four years and have had experience working on big teams and small teams and in both large markets and small ones. There are pro’s and con’s to every job but sometimes people don’t see all the pro’s that come with working in minor league sports. I currently work as the Manager of Client Services at the Iowa Wild, and given my experience working in minor league sports I wanted to highlight some of the benefits of those roles, hope you enjoy!
1. Every day is truly different - Sports is a unique industry, but it’s a fun one. When you work in sports, most days are very different. I know with ticket sales; it can sometimes get monotonous when trying to hit your daily numbers. That’s why it’s great when you work for a team that makes it fun and mixes it up. Since I started working for the Iowa Wild, I can honestly say that no day has been the same. One day I’m setting up the arena to make sure it’s ready for a game day and on other days I am driving the “Sun Tan City Tanboni”.
When you are in the minor leagues, you have limited resources. I am happy to say that the resources we get from the Minnesota Wild are remarkable. I have a hand in game operations, marketing and even community events. On game days, I can be visiting a suite with a CEO of a hospital or helping handout giveaway items. I know sometimes you may think its "boom or bust" when trying to get to the big leagues, but many people working in the pro’s often start their careers at smaller teams and it can be a great opportunity for you to get going.
2. You do what you love - When you first get started in sports, you aren’t chasing the money, you are chasing the dream. I love what I do! I had to go through different variations of working in sports to get to where I am today. This isn’t the final stop for me, but it allows me to do what I love, which is activating unique marketing initiatives with partners to help them accomplish their goals, and working in sports at the same time.
3. You work with the athletes of tomorrow - This may be a selfish take, but I get to work at a place where I will see guys fighting tooth and nail to get to the big leagues. I have seen guys like Matt Dumba, Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway play down here in Iowa. For the hockey fans reading this, it was great to see the future stars of the NHL get their start. Its also incredibly rewarding supporting these players as they play for their livelihood every night.
4. There is more flexibility - Working in the AHL allows us to have some fun with our games. We need to get people here and I think we do a great job of that. Our attendance is among the tops in the AHL despite being in a smaller market. As a team, we sit down and figure out fun theme nights. We just had Stranger Things night. We will be having Pucks & Paws here soon as well. It allows you to be creative and bring ideas to the table that you may not be able to do at a bigger market pro team. As a professional in the AHL, you can see things that you've built come to fruition. That flexibility allows you to see something from start to finish.
5. I'm developing a more diverse background - When it’s time for a new role down the road (I don’t know when that will be), I will have much to talk about during my interview. I will be able to say I serviced 115+ plus marketing partners, I was the event manger for a few events here with the Wild, I brought in new business and revenue for the club and renewed a lot of my clients. The list goes on and on, and working in the AHL allows me to have a unique background with lots of skills, that will surely help me in the future. People know working in the minor leagues is a grind; I have talked to some folks in the NBA, NHL and NFL who understand that. When they see that on a resume, they understand the commitment and grind it took to succeed, and that’s a skill most employers are looking for.
I hope this gives you some insight into how working in the AHL or at any other minor league team can be a great benefit for your career. Many successful executives in the industry have started their career in the minor leagues, and it can be a great spot for you too! But like anything, the experience is truly is what you make it. Best of luck.
I’m always happy to talk to anyone about jobs, or career, or share advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
Zach Fahey is the Manager of Client Services at the Iowa Wild. In that role he is responsible for leading the Corporate Partnership department's fulfillment and activation efforts. Individually he's responsible for managing 115+ corporate partnership accounts, overseeing contract fulfillment, sponsorship activation and general customer service. Prior to the role with the Wild, he worked for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA and for the Chicago Bandits, a women's professional softball team. Zach can be reached on LinkedIN here