By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Andy Sinwald, Recreation Supervisor of Special Events for the City of Isle of Palms. He is an alumnus of Bowling Green State University where he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He studied Sport Management during his undergraduate career and Leisure and Tourism with an emphasis on Parks and Recreation management during graduate school. He gracious enough to offer up his insight on how you have to really love your job to work in sports, how difficult but fun it is to manage the long hours of work, and why he chose to get out of the sports industry. He definitely offers up a unique perspective that is a first for Front Ofiice Sports.
What were your previous positions if any prior to your current position? How did they help you get where you are today?
I have held a number of positions in the sports and recreation industry. I will provide a list of my positions and the team or organization I worked for:
General Ice Arena Assistant — BGSU Ice Arena
Team Shop Salesperson — Lake Erie Crushers
Group Ticket Sales Intern — BGSU Athletics
Usher — BGSU Athletics
Media Relations Intern — Lake Erie Monsters
Facilities Graduate Assistant — BGSU
Groundskeeper — Erie MetroParks
Concessions Manager — Bowling Green Parks and Recreation
Business Operations Intern — Fiesta Bowl
Operations Assistant — Myrtle Beach Pelicans
(Recently hired as Recreation Supervisor of Special Events — City of Isle of Palms)
I’ve experienced a variety of aspects in the sports/recreation industry and each job helped me learn what I like and what I don’t like. They have also provided me with a good base knowledge of how to manage events and facilities. I was able to portray this knowledge in my interviews which helped me get the job I have today.
What is the average day like for a person in your position? What is your biggest day to day challenge?
Since I’m just starting my new job, I’ll refer to my most recent position as Operations Assistant for the Pelicans. For somebody in Operations, everyday is a little bit different. Your job is to make sure the facility or organization you are working for is in top condition and ready for the next big event. This could mean anything from ensuring the facility is clean, safe and stocked to fixing broken seats in the stadium to working with a sign maker to place a new sign on the outfield wall. It all depends on what job needs to be done for that day.
On game days, there was a little more of a routine. Basically, throughout the day my job was to make sure the ballpark was ready for the game. This meant everything had to be clean, organized, and set-up. During the games I had to be on hand for any accidents, security issues, and just ensuring the fans at the ballpark enjoy their experience by doing whatever is necessary within my means.
What was the best career advice you have received?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
When I received this advice I made a point to try and get involved with any aspect of sports I could. Also, in any of my jobs I made sure that I could lend a hand wherever I was needed and I think that mentality has really helped me get to where I am today.
You never know what aspects of sports you really enjoy until you try it and many jobs in this industry have an “all hands on deck” mind of thought. By taking a job you are unfamiliar with you may find you don’t like it but at the same time you gain that experience which you can show future employers that you’re not afraid to help out in different departments within the organization. An example I can give is working with the Pelicans everyone was expected to run to the field to help out with tarp pulls to cover the field when it was raining. Ticket sales, operations, concessions etc. were all expected to land a hand if possible. If you work in sports I can guarantee you will be asked to help a different department at some point during your career. Rather than waiting for people to ask you for help, reach out to those other departments and see if there is any way you can lend a hand. If you are able to make their lives easier, they will remember you when you ask for a reference or are looking for a job.
What was your favorite part about working in sports?
My favorite part about working in sports was creating events that made people happy. There are long hours involved and at times it can be stressful but when the game or event is taking place and you take a second to look around and see people smiling and having a good time, it makes it all worth it.
How important is networking in sports in your eyes?
Networking is extremely important. Many people obtain jobs because they know somebody already in the organization one way or another. I was extremely lucky to make my way in sports the way I did because I knew nobody and my networking skills could have been much better. I advise anyone starting in sports to utilize any people you have talked to or worked with in the past to help find your next job. Becoming a member of school or outside organizations geared towards sport management professionals will help with this as well. Your network will be extremely helpful in your career.
What is your ultimate career goal?
My ultimate career goal is to obtain a job working for a community and becoming known for providing exemplary events and programs.
How did you manage the strange hours of working in sports?
Managing the strange hours of sports is definitely one of the most difficult things to do. Working for a minor league baseball team during a 7 game home stand, I would put in close to around 90 hours a week. What makes it easier is reminding yourself that you are going to work at a baseball park and creating a fun experience for anyone that comes through the gates. Another thing to remember is you aren’t the only one dealing with the long hours. Your co-workers are going to become your friends and you will rely on each other to help you get through those strange hours.
Why did you decide to get out of the sports industry?
The warning I received when I first got into the sports industry is it’s a lot of work for little pay. Those that love working in sports are the ones that are truly passionate about what they do. After working a number of jobs in the industry I realized I did not have that same passion and, in the long run, would not enjoy my job if I stuck with this as a career.
My passion is more on a community recreation level. I’m still not going to get rich by any means but it’s something that I truly care about and know I will enjoy. Working in sports isn’t for everyone but those that really like it can’t imagine doing anything else.