Tonight's panel consists of five different women who work here at University of Wisconsin in different roles revolving around sports.
Sheridan Blanford: Director of Inclusion
Marija Pientka: Senior Associate AD
Katie Smith: Senior Associate AD in Compliance
Jackie Crum: Assistant Women's Hockey Coach
Bridget Woodruff: Assistant AD for Career & Leadership
What is some of the best career advice you've received over the years?
"Crush the job you are currently in. If you do your job really really well, it will be noticed." - BW
"Always be thinking and planning about what your goal is in the future." - KS
"Learn to play golf. It's a great opportunity to network and get to know other people in the business." - MP
"You're not always going to be able to enjoy the shade of the trees that you plant. Even if you can't necessarily enjoy the fruits of your own labor, others will benefit from your hard work." - SB
How was the transition from a different university and city?
"I was hesitant transitioning from a smaller school and city. My old job at Northern Illinois felt like a family and I was nervous interviewing, but when I interviewed I knew this place was different. Even though there was a bigger microscope on us in compliance, I was excited and knew this was a job I wanted." - KS
"I quit my job in Ohio because I realized I needed to be closer to my family and where I grew up. So when I did get an interview, I really wanted the job and needed the job. The structure here is very different and there are pros and cons to that." - BW
What are you some challenges you have faced being a woman in the sports industry?
"I found myself trying to be more like a man. I didn't need to do that and I shouldn't have done that. The best thing for me was being the best me that I can be and working hard at my job."-KS
"As a female coach there is definitely a microscope on you to be the best and to earn the respect of the men. You have to work harder to earn the respect of men unfortunately." - JC
"Not every sector is dominated by males, but lots of times my career has been limited by my age." - BW
Erik Haslam is a UW alum who started his own college basketball analytics website. He uses analytical methods to evaluate teams in multiple ways. By comparing teams to opponents they have both played, teams are compared against the average team and eventually ranked. A final score can be projected for any of the 62,128 possible matchups in college basketball. The data and algorithms can also be used to determine "bracketology deserves", meaning the teams that deserve to be in the tournament and at what seed.
"Analytics are only successful if you can successfully translate them for the consumer".
Limitations are still occurring:
Data acquisition can be challenging and expensive
Injuries aren't accommodated into the data
Q. Do you take into account a star player, like a Trae Young?
A. No, I treat all teams as a constant. You could add in a piece for a star player but sometimes a star player can also be a negative if they start to try to do too much.
Q. What do you say to those who doubt analytics?
A. Analytics are a tool that can be used to help you get a better picture of the scene. It can be hard to accommodate them at first if you have a very traditional background, but they can be a really useful tool to help you turn an overtime game into a 2 or 3 point victory.
Q. Who's the biggest user of your data?
A. Fans and coaches historically. The gambling industry has led to a growth in those type of users as well.
Legends is a company who works behind the scenes with partner teams to help in multiple areas. They have three main segments: Global Planning, Global Sales and Hospitality. They originated by working with the Cowboys and Yankees as they opened their new stadiums and then expanded to other teams and properties across different leagues and even internationally. They're the team behind the naming deals for the Raiders, Chargers/Rams and LA FC's new stadiums. They also work with collegiate teams across the country and entertainment organizations worldwide.
The four members of today's panel along with their job titles are:
Lexi Van Camp (Social Media Marketing Specialist)
Zach Epstein (Ticketing Account Executive)
Andrew Snyderman (Ticket Sales Manager)
Daniel Jankoski (General Manager)
What is Legend's role with the University of Wisconsin?
DJ: Help to work with the University of Wisconsin's proposed expansion/renovation of Camp Randall, help with development and to help sell tickets for the three of the main sports here at Wisconsin. (Football, Men's Hockey and Men's Basketball).
How did you get your start in the business world?
AS: "I worked with NBC for the 2012 Olympics as well as working as a promotional internship with the Cincinnati Reds. Then I worked as a ticket sales account manager for the Lincoln Stars. Taking risks is very important to be successful in sports and I look back on that decision and am very glad that I did it. "
What did you need to know to be successful with Legends?
LVC: "Knowing what you know but also knowing what you don't know as well and being willing to ask questions."
Do you collaborate with your Legends colleagues who work with other properties?
AS: "Most definitely, I work a lot with other properties to work on best practices and to learn what works well for them that we can use here. It's also a nice to feel like there are other projects that are available to be moved to if your project ends."
SBC Alumni Weekend 2019
Welcome our Alumni back to Madison!
List of Activities
Friday, March 29th - Alumni Bar Crawl
Saturday, March 30th - Alumni Speaker Panel & Networking Event
Sunday, March 31st - Brewers Game Farewell
A HUGE thank you to everyone involved for making this the best Alumni Day yet to date, especially our "esteemed alumni" for coming back to share their journey's and incredibly valuable insights into their various career paths. Looking forward to this annual event for years to come!
Sammy Gelfand was born in Chicago and raised a sports fan. He attended George Washington University right out of high school gaining a degree in political science and history. Shortly thereafter, interested in pursuing a career in sports, he got a masters degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in addition to working in marketing and promotions for the school’s athletic department. After college, Sammy bounced around for a few years working various jobs in the industry. When he figured out that he wanted to work in analytics, Sammy got his start working for the D-League (Now G-League) affiliate of the Sacramento Kings. He then got his big breakthrough when he joined the staff of the Golden State Warriors in 2013, where he would be well-known in the analytics community for his work. According to this New York times profile, Gelfand has been called an “analytics guru” and was labeled the “left side of Steve Kerr’s brain”. In his time there, the team would go on to win three NBA finals. Now in his current role, Sammy is the Director of Coaching Analytics for the Detroit Pistons.
Q & A:
Thoughts on starting out with less than superior/unpaid positions in sports?
Sammy said that gaining those experiences earlier on in sports helped him narrow his focus of what he wanted to do and find out what his true passion was. Considering all the different and odd jobs he had, he says he was able to do some self reflection on what jobs he would be happy doing. Now in his current role, he has more compassion towards the business side because he has had experience there and understands where they are coming from.
When did you decide you wanted to do analytics full-time?
Sammy stated that he always liked analyzing and translating numbers into things that were actionable. Also, he had success doing it and enjoyed it thoroughly. In his first year with the Warriors, he had a lot of freedom to explore and have fun with the data considering the circumstances.
Story or moment from the Warriors success that you know they were gonna be special?
Sammy said that the defining moment when you could tell the team was special was the 2015 second round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. They were down 2-1 and at that point Steve Kerr made a wacky adjustment with the match-ups, specifically shifting to a smaller lineup. This signaled that they had the coaches creative enough to try new things and players with a willingness to implement it. The Warriors would go on to win the series against a Memphis squad that they could not seem to defeat previously in the playoffs. After that, the players had shifted their mentalities.
Thoughts on his Graduate School experience for Sports Management?
Sammy said that the main goal in going to graduate school for himself was to get more internships and experience. He did not think the classroom work was anything special in terms of what he gained. For instance, he said he took a statistics course and compared it to high school level work. Nevertheless, he was glad he went to graduate school because of the experience and the people he was able to meet.
Analysis of 2016 NBA finals (Warriors Vs. Cavaliers)?
Sammy said at the end of the day, the team was burnt out. A good chunk of the team had lingering injury issues and the team really did not have enough left in the tank. In addition, Lebron and Kyrie were incredible in that series.
How is your Job different during the playoffs?
Sammy said that it is less busy as there aren’t as many games to do. Nevertheless, it is the most important time of the year because the data is very clear and succinct at that point. So when you can make something out of the data, it can give the team a real advantage.
Advice for students to get into player operations/scouting?
Sammy answered this question by stating that the main thing is to start gaining experience now if there is something you're passionate about and want to do. For example, if you want to be a scout, start developing scouting reports right now. The reports may not be all that good, but it shows effort and a willingness to learn. He also suggested to take advantage of the resources you have available as a student. Finally, the last thing that Sammy said was that when he is looking to hire someone, he looks for someone that is gonna work hard and learn without trying to become a superstar within a short period of time.
Thank you to Sammy Gelfand for taking the time to share his invaluable insight with our club about the ins and outs of working for in analytics in the NBA, as well as his advice on how to succeed in such a competitive industry.
Reach out and connect with Sammy Gelfand
Jesse Temple writes about Wisconsin football and basketball for The Athletic, where he focuses on in-depth stories and beat coverage of players, coaches and recruits that take readers beyond standard daily beat writing. He previously covered the Badgers beat for seven seasons at FOX Sports Wisconsin, ESPN.com and Land of 10. His educational background includes stops at Knox College for a bachelor's degree in English Literature and at the University of Kansas for a masters degree in Journalism.
While speaking to the club, Jesse touched on the mission of The Athletic. He stated multiple ways in which The Athletic seeks to differentiate themselves from the competition in sports journalism. These strategies include:
Here are a handful of the articles that Jesse touched on from his impressive writing portfolio with The Athletic:
For SBC members actively seeking employment or opportunities in the sports industry, Jesse reiterated that “whatever it is what you want to pursue, get real world experience and that will set you apart”.
Thank you to Jesse for taking the time to share his invaluable insight with our club about the ins and outs of working in the field of sports journalism, as well as his advice on how to succeed in such a competitive industry.
Reach out and learn more about Jesse Temple
Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter: @jessetemple
The annual Winter trip continued for the club this year with stops at Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Columbus. We had great networking opportunities with a diverse set of sports organizations and industry professionals. The full recap is below:
January 15th - Indianapolis
Pat Boylan - On-Air Talent and Multimedia Producer
Sayna Sangster - Marketing Integration, Associate Director
Greg Rappaport - Web Coordinator
Chris Melby - Corporate Partnerships, Sales Director
Nic Hendrix - Director, Consumer Sales & Service
Mei Chao - Partnership Activation Coordinator
Aretha Thurmond - Managing Director of International & Championship Teams
Christopher Quetant - Anti-Doping Manager
Susan Hazzard - Managing Director of Communications
Ashley Mitchell - Marketing & Communications Manager
Zach Raubuck - Events Manager
January 16th - Cincinnati & Columbus
Greg Harrell - Senior Director of Sales & Service
Natalie Alderman - Ticket Sales Representative
Steven Hudy - Senior Manager of Digital & Social Media
Dave Tracy - Staff Accountant
Magda Stepien - Partnership Activation Coordinator
Matt Sikich - Senior Coporate Sales Manager
Jim Viers - Pro Video Coordinator
Leah Cover - Sr. Group Event Specialists
Sam Morgan - Corporate Partnerships Development Manager
Samantha Hagan - Partnership Activation Manager
Anthony Allocco - Digital & Social Media Coordinator
Carson Reider - Digital & Social Media Coordinator
Matthew Cacciato - Masters of Sports Administration Director
January 17th - Indianapolis
Amanda Benzine - Assistant Director of Championships & Alliances
Brandon Brunner - Assistant Director of Corporate Relationships
Andrea Farmer - Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives
Ryan Jones - Associate Director of Division II
Tiffany Martin - Associate Director of Championships & Alliances, Corporate Relationships
Ryan Lobsiger - Vice President of Corporate Partnerships
Eric Neuberger - Stadium Director of Lucas Oil Stadium
Attended Pacers vs. 76ers Game
@Bankers Life Fieldhouse
January 18th - Depart Home