If there was only one thing we could say about working with Notre Dame Athletics Marketing Intern Conor Montijo it would be: Fun. If there was another word it would be: Hardworking. Okay, this is our blog we can say whatever we want. Conor is both FUN and HARDWORKING. And well if you're going to be an intern in the sports industry you better have both traits. This "young pup" (that's what Robert calls anybody under the age of 30) is going to do a lot of awesome things with his career because his passion is truly infectious. We also really like that his pregame ritual involves the song "World's Greatest."
It's our pleasure to introduce to you the World's Greatest Intern, Conor Montijo:
Ella Odland, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator at North Texas Athletics, is known around Old Hat HQ as "The Mean Green Rowing Machine." You see Ella is a former rower from Washington State University and well, Robert is really good at rhyming. We collaborate with Ella on multiple sports marketing strategies and she's a perfect fit with the fine folks in Denton. Ella is great to work with and gives us the right amount of direction and creative freedom to create some really cool work.
This week, Ella answers our 20 Questions and we all find out she has great taste in karaoke songs, tv shows, food, and having a dog. Ella, let us know if you want to video conference in to discuss Grey's every Friday.
1. NAME: Ella Odland
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Marketing and Promotions Coordinator at North Texas Athletics
3. HOMETOWN: Seattle, WA
4. PREGAME RITUAL: Eating Pizza
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: Peanut Butter
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Being on social media all day and calling it “work”
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Not being able to bring my dog to work ☹
8. HOBBIES: Travelling and exploring new places
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Listen to your parents, they actually know what they’re talking about
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Ignition (Remix)
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: All the Disney movies
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: Friends and Grey’s Anatomy
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: *ROAR*
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Dick’s Drive-In
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: A special, fries, and a chocolate shake
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Mulan
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: Lion
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Flipped a boat… while I was still on the dock
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: How to Get Away with Murder
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Travelling the world
Sports can have a powerful impact on people's lives whether they're part of the action or simply rooting for a favorite team from the sidelines. We wanted to know more about the fan experience, so we asked a few questions. Here's what fans told us during our most recent online survey.
Pitt is It! Never have truer words been spoken. We've been partnering with the Pitt Athletics Marketing team for a solid two years now creating everything from schedule posters to web ads to social media packages. Chris Bain, Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing, is one of those guys our designers really look forward to collaborating with. We get to work with multiple teams and on multiple concepts. It's all-around awesome for our creative minds when Chris comes our way with a new project.
Now let's talk about Chris' answers to the 20 Questions survey: Simply amazing. Karaoke choice? Stellar. Boy band name? On point. Spirit Animal? Best response so far. Well played, Chris. Well played.
1. NAME: Chris Bain
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Assistant Athletic Director – Marketing at Pitt
3. HOMETOWN: Albany, NY
4. PREGAME RITUAL: Too superstitious to make public.
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: Not sure you would call it a snack but I love to chew gum. Sugar-free of course. Juicy Fruit Starburst or Trident Layers are my go-to.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: I love traveling to away football games with the team to see what game day is like on other campuses. It’s an opportunity to see what makes them unique and see if there are others things you’re not doing that we should be.
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Work-life balance. We have so many games and events we need to be at you need to tell yourself every now and again that it’s ok to miss a game or an event since family comes first.
8. HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: I really like to cook and BBQ. I got a smoker a couple of years ago and love trying new things in it. Ribs and chicken wings are my favorite.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Learn to play the guitar. I always wanted to and never got around to it.
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: Back to the Future
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: On now has to be This Is Us. Of all-time definitely Seinfeld.
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: Bane Of My Existence
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Barrell Junction
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: Cubano with a side of fries and baked beans and an IPA.
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Rapunzel
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: Goat King – didn’t know that until now.
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Quit a job without having a fallback plan.
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: Homeland Season 5
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: I’ve always dreamt of owning/running a sports bar.
In the summer of 2004, I took my first trip to Chapel Hill, NC. I had just started Old Hat and Rick Hart, then on staff at Oklahoma Athletics but now the AD at SMU did me the favor of calling UNC on my behalf to see if they might have some work for me. Fortunately, they did and we’ve been working with UNC ever since. I made my way out there to discuss the details of what we’d be doing for the Tar Heels and afterward, I went over to the nearest apparel shop to grab a souvenir or two. I picked up a navy blue Nike hoodie that had the word “CAROLINA” embroidered across the front of it and more than a dozen years later I’m still wearing that thing as often as I get the chance.
On a recent trip to Charleston, SC, I happened to be wearing that very sweatshirt as I made my way to get my wife some yogurt from the market down the street from our hotel room. A fella was walking my direction and as we got closer he pointed at me and said in a louder-than-expected voice, “Go Heels!” I’ll be honest. I was a bit startled and it took me a minute to figure out what he said and why he said it to me. I had to remind myself that I was wearing an UNC sweatshirt. Fortunately, I was able to gather my thoughts quickly enough to offer a stuttered, “Yeah! Go Heels!” back at him before my confusion became too obvious. This exchange served as a good precursor to the one I had no more than 2 minutes later when I was actually at the market and another man gave me a hearty, “Go Heels!” when he saw me. I was more prepared this time and was quicker with my response. I walked out of the market fired up ready to shout my support for UNC at the next passer-by but unfortunately, I didn’t pass any more Heels fans between there and the hotel room.
Working in collegiate athletics for as long as I have and with as many different universities as I have, my wardrobe is full of team apparel that has been given to me over the years. It is not unusual for me to be wearing an SMU sweatshirt and Kennesaw State hat one day only to be followed up by a Texas A&M t-shirt and Michigan basketball shorts the next. There have been more than a few times that someone has approached me in a public place and commented about how great “that game” was last night, referencing some sporting event featuring the team I am representing with my wardrobe. Problem is, I rarely recall what I happen to be wearing that day so I have to look down at my shirt or take my hat off to remind myself who they think I’m a fan of. Then, I either express my agreement with their statement or have to admit that I missed that particular event.
Believe it or not, though, the point of this is not to talk about my wardrobe or my interactions at the local grocery store. It’s to talk about the bonds we form as fans. Hunter S. Thompson’s quote references football fans specifically but the idea applies to any fan of sport. We share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and many personality types. We are never alone. We are a legion and sports is often the only thing we have in common.
When was the last time you were wearing your favorite Aerosmith t-shirt and some stranger yelled, “Sweet Emotion!” at you? Or the last time you were wearing that old Incredible Hulk t-shirt and passed a guy that gave you a hearty, “RAAARRRRRRR!!!!!” No, sports fans are in a justice league of their own. And for some reason, though startling, we don’t question it when a random person yells, “Go X!” at us in the restroom at the bar just across from Xavier University’s campus.
Sports creates a bond between people who would otherwise be complete strangers and gives them something to share in common. I recently met a fella on an airplane and we spent the entire flight talking about sports. We didn’t even share the same team in common though. Our bond was formed over the fact that I’m a Sooner fan, Barry Switzer used to coach at OU, Barry Switzer played at Arkansas and that guy on the plane is an Arkansas fan. We connected over a former coach of my team that is a former player from his team. Sports fans are just searching for something to connect over!
The camaraderie that is felt between sports fans is obvious. I’m not uncovering any brilliant revelation here. But I did want to see how many sports fans recognize it themselves. In our fan survey, we asked how many of the participants felt a sense of camaraderie with people at sporting events. We further clarified the question by adding that they should not include people they were attending with. In other words, to what extent do you feel connected with all of the people at those events that you don’t even know. 75% of them said that they feel “a lot” and/or “a great deal” of connection with all those strangers with whom, beyond wearing the same color and cheering for the same team, they have no known commonalities.
Isn’t that kinda nuts? 75% of sports fans feel a connection with people they don’t even know, if for no other reason than that those people are cheering for the same group of people on the field wearing red to score more points than the other group of people on the field wearing blue!
Like I said, the connection between sports fans isn’t breaking news. Every sports fan has experienced it. What you may not have realized, however, is the positive effect sports fans can have on an athletics program. The ever-important home field advantage is because of fans. The scholarships student-athletes receive through the athletic scholarship funds wouldn’t exist without the fans. A department's primary source of revenue (ticket sales) would obviously disappear without fans. Apparel sales, sponsorship dollars, local economy boosts, etc... All because of fans. 80% of those polled think that fans can either “probably” or “definitely” affect the outcome of the game. There’s no doubt in my mind that fans affect outcomes and could do so even more if we focused more on developing relationships with fans.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Sports does not happen without every member of the team working toward achieving success. It does not happen without the athletes. It does not happen without the coaches. And it sure as hell doesn’t happen without the fans. If you are a sports fan, take pride in what you give to the game. If you are an athlete, thank the fans for wanting to watch you play. If you are a coach, try to tune out the criticism of those people that think you should have gone for it on 4th-and-27 from your own 12-yard-line instead of punting and relish the opportunity you have to affect the lives of young people through your job. All thanks to these crazy fans.
Simon Whitaker. What can we say about the guy? Amazing attitude. Great sense of humor. Easy going dude. Associate AD for Sports Information/Game Operations at Presbyterian College. We love working with Simon. We've partnered with Simon and Presby (as it's affectionately referred to at OH HQ) since 2013. We're big fans of the Blue Hose and love how this small school in Clinton, S.C. is such a close community.
Simon had some buyer's remorse after sending us his answers: "As I am sitting here in the office about to watch "The Goonies" on AMC, I feel the need to change one of my answers. My favorite movie would have to be "The Goonies." If you can't change it, my other choice is still solid. OK, last time I'm going to second-guess my answers though, I should be second-guessing the pictures I sent."
I have so many questions after that exchange, but I guess the main one would be "why are you watching The Goonies at the office, Simon??" We'll have to wait for a response to that one. In the meantime, here's 20 answers to 20 Questions.
1. NAME: Simon Whitaker
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Presbyterian College Associate AD for Sports Information/Game Operations (and Video Services and a little Marketing and Promotions)
3. HOMETOWN: Charleston, S.C.
4. PREGAME RITUAL: Before football games, the first song I play at the stadium is “Beautiful Day” by U2. I typically play it before anyone is there and usually as the sun is rising.
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: I keep a desk drawer full of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip, otherwise anything with sugar.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: The challenge of figuring out how to do something that we haven’t done before, especially since we don’t always have the resources to do it.
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: The challenge of figuring out how to do something that we haven’t done before, especially since we don’t always have the resources to do it.
8. HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: Most people I work with, and even several friends, don’t know that I hunt. I actually bagged a nice-sized doe this past December, and I have deer antlers from a hunt in 2010, hanging on my office wall. It surprises people, though I think that is more of a surprise that I am handy with firearms.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Don’t take the red pill. Seriously though, don’t over-analyze and don’t be afraid to make necessary changes.
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: “Your Love” by Outfield
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: The Office
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: Uncoordinated Rattle & Hum
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Kickin’ Chicken in Charleston, S.C.
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: Chicken Fingers, small, with honey mustard and fries.
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Ariel. Up on the shore they work all day, Out in the sun they slave away, While we devotin', Full time to floatin', Under the sea.
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: According to three on-line quizzes I completed it is either a snake or a coyote or a wolf.
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: I left a $300 Columbus Blue Jackets hockey jersey in a closet hotel in Columbus, Ohio. By the time I realized it the jersey was no longer there. Stupid for someone who travels a lot and ALWAYS checks the closet before they leave.
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: House of Cards
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Secret Service or working for a politician
Think about the question above for a minute or two. When a fan arrives on campus or enters your arena, what is the first thing they hear? Is there a specific script or instructions for your staff? Do you rely only on the friendliness of the staff to welcome fans or have you also set up your facilities in a manner that is inviting?
The venues we visit always seem to be friendly, welcoming, and buzzing with excitement. Usually you feel the power and sense of community within a few minutes of being there. These elements help paint the picture of how truly unique your school is when compared to others.
Now, let’s think about the first thing fans hear or see on your website. Did you put as much thought into that greeting? Did you even think about that as a way to greet and excite your fans? The contrast between a website’s greeting and a greeting at a venue can be startling. And yet, the website for your venue or team is most likely the number one way fans interact with your brand.
You can no longer think of your website as just another billboard, brochure, or piece of marketing collateral. Your website is your biggest venue. It has the most information and will see the most interaction of any touch point. With that in mind, what is the greeting fans are receiving on the website? Are you yelling at them about all of your ticket offerings? Has the development team forced you to put five donate buttons on the home page?
When deciding what will be the focus of your home page, think back to the greeting your staff gives people at your venue or even on the phone. Most likely they do not open the conversation by running through every ticket option you have to offer.
Traffic on a website is diverse. Not everyone is coming to the website because they are ready to buy season tickets or put their name on a building. Some are coming just to figure out what options are available or to see what the school is doing. Your website has to be a resource for all different types of visitors. When a fan comes into your venue or calls about tickets, most likely your staff takes the time to figure out what they are looking for and tries to educate them on what is available that could suit their needs. A website is no different, you have to position yourself as that reliable resource. Once a fan views you as a resource, it is much easier for them to decide to buy season tickets or make that financial commitment to your program.
Look at your site. How are you greeting the visitors who show up at your virtual venue? If it doesn’t match how you greet visitors in person or on the phone, it is time to rethink your approach.
See that image up there? That's the header image for ZacLogsdon.com. What is ZacLogsdon.com all about? I'm glad you asked.
I'm Writing a Book
Not sure if you've heard, but I'm writing a book. And it's going to be amazing. See, what I've discovered in my nearly two decades of working in athletics is that sports is really, really important to people. And I believe that sports has a more positive impact on humanity than any other form of entertainment. The effects of what sports can do in the life of an athlete, a coach and even a fan are unbelievable and I thought it would be great to tell that story.
So, I set out to interview as many athletics directors and senior staff members from universities all over the country to get stories from them that back this theory. What I found was that I initally had no idea how important sports is. After interviewing more than 60 top athletics administrators, including the likes of Joe Castiglione, Barry Alvarez and Tom Osborne, I realized just how huge the impact of sports can be.
The book is in progress and I hope to have it released sometime in Summer, 2017. And I needed a place to promote that book. So I decided to do that on a website with the author's name as the URL. And that's me. Zac Logsdon.
Brad Sutton, Southern Methodist University Senior Associate A.D./External Affairs, is a man of big ideas and few words. He tells us what he needs, we execute the plan, and he says "looks good." It's a partnership that works well for an incredibly busy guy like Brad. He was one of our go-to guys with SMU's Sports 180 initiative nearly a year ago as well as the guy behind the massive Football Environmental Graphics undertaking. It was a beast of a project!
Do you know the #1 need on projects like that? Protein. We know that Brad has really gotten into working out and only eating protein. As in his pre-game meals will only consist of meat. He's a steak-loving guy after our own hearts...which are also chock-full of steak. Brad, we hope you get to load up often during the Mustangs march through the NCAA Tournament these next few weeks. It's time to Pony Up! It's 20 Questions with Brad Sutton.