#MySportsBizStart – Devin Leon: “Be Your Own Hero”
by devin leon - membership executive at the seattle sounders | February 11, 2020
My start in the sports industry is best described as a long road. I grew up playing soccer and pursued that passion to become a professional. I had opportunities to play abroad and the game took me to several countries. I knew it was time to find a steady job, and I knew I wanted it to be in sports. I began working for AEG, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Los Angeles Kings as an inside sales representative. When I started, it was minimum wage with a cap of only 30 hours a week. Needless to say, this was not the easiest of times financially. I knew this was not permanent, but it was a start to a career that I wanted to grow. The only person that could stop me was myself.
My start came with the LA Galaxy, my childhood team. I love soccer, I love the team, but what I didn’t know was how well I would do. Jack MacFarland, who is now with the AHL offices, and Travis Case, who is now with the Los Angeles Kings, believed in me and gave me the opportunity to get my true #SportsBizStart. I came in every day ready to grind and make the most out of what I had in front of me. The inside sales program I was in had 12 total reps. It was the first class that the AEG offices opened with half of us Galaxy and the other half Kings. However, we were able (and expected) to cross sell. I have always been one to build relationships and keep those thriving and have lived with the mantra, “for the culture.” I know how important it is to have a bought-in culture where everyone is working hard for themselves but also for those around you. Through this, I became a leader within my class and began taking all the opportunities to grow because my goal was to make it out and earn a full-time job.
I was the leading revenue producer, and was a leader within the organization but with good times, there are rough times. The tough times really teach you more than when things are good. It came time for full-time positions and I figured my best bet would be to find a bigger role within the Galaxy. I thought (along with my managers) that I would earn the Galaxy job and to my surprise, I didn’t. The situation was hard to swallow and gave me a decision to make. Do I push through? Do I pursue another job? I decided to push through and focus more on my leadership qualities. Shortly after that, I was approached by the Kings and Ryan Miller (VP of Ticket Sales and Business Development) who offered me a full-time job. I asked to think about it and the very next day, I was approached by UCLA athletics and the Galaxy for roles in their organizations as well.
It was time to make a decision and I decided against my comfort zone and accepted my first full-time role with the Los Angeles Kings. Hockey is the only sport I NEVER played. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately, I took the role because of exactly that, I NEVER played it. I wanted to test myself and see how I could perform in an environment where I knew nothing and where I’d be starting from scratch. I went over to the Kings with two other Inside Sales reps in my class. I was the only one to make the jump from soccer to hockey. I went from talking about deals of $3,000 for season tickets to deals more than $10,000! Talk about intimidating. I knew I had to grind and fight to earn my spot. I did just that. Through the grind, it’s hard to remember that you are a human at times. But one thing I made sure to do was always extend a hand of help to my teammates as much as I could. I was blessed to work for the LA Kings for one full season before I had to make another decision.
In May of 2019, I made the move up north to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in Seattle, Washington. With the help of my old Ticket Sales Manager, Daniel Hernandez, I was able to get connected with the Seattle Sounders and Aaron Lampkin. Soccer has been my sport and my passion so it was fitting that I found myself back in the MLS. Through a few phone interviews, we sealed the deal and before I knew it, I was making the drive up the coast. I started on a match day in May as a New Membership Consultant. From day one in the organization, I have had a goal to further develop my current craft but also prepare myself for the next step of my career. On the field, I couldn’t imagine what would happen in my first year with the club, the Seattle Sounders won the MLS Cup!
Off the field, I can’t thank Aaron Lampkin (Director, Ticket Sales & Service) and Sam Pritikin (Manager, Ticket Sales) enough for the belief they’ve had in me to allow me to continue to grow; now as a Membership Executive and hopefully into a future leader within the industry.
Ultimately, my story may be different or could have some similarities to yours, but what I want everyone to look for and remember is:
Be your own hero – Think where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years and grind to be better than you are today.
Be unyielding – Things are going to be challenging, you may fail, get back up and keep learning.
Treat others the way you want to be treated – Be a light, be a human, be someone that people look up to.
My name is Devin Leon. I am currently a Membership Executive for the Seattle Sounders. In my role, I am responsible for 400 current season ticket member accounts and responsible for acquiring new business through the full-menu selling. Prior to the Sounders, I spent nearly one season with the Los Angeles Galaxy and one season with the Los Angeles Kings. I graduated from Biola University in La Mirada, CA and from the University of Cincinnati with a Master’s Degree. I look forward to giving back and help be a stepping stone to the future leaders and SportsBiz professionals as much as possible.