Thursday, October 9, 2008

So You Want to Work in Sports?: Ryan Knapp, President/GM, Queen City FC

Over the next several weeks, HHR will be interviewing 20 and 30-something-year-olds in various careers in professional, amateur and collegiate sports to get a take on how they broke into their respective industries and to offer tips how ambitious sports-related job seekers might do the same.

Today, we interview Ryan Knapp, 25, President/GM for Queen City FC. A world traveler and soccer enthusiast, Ryan used his passion and, subsequently, blogging about the sport he loved to land a Media Relations gig with a club on the verge of becoming professional, and eventually a role as its President and GM.

Name: Ryan Knapp
Age: 25
Position: President/GM
Organization: Queen City FC (National Premier Soccer League)
College Major: MA Linguistics
Prior Sports-Related Experience: Director of Media Relations (Queen City FC); Soccer blogger

How was the club formed (both amateur and professionally). How were you part of the transition from amateur club to professional?

Well, the club was formed on the simple dream of four college friends (note I was not part of the forming of the club but I am now President and GM). One day Chris Keem, one of the founders of the club, was driving into work on a winter day and looked at his Liverpool hat and said "Wouldn't it be amazing to own our own soccer team?" And shortly after, Queen City FC was formed.

The four founders (Chris Keem, Michael Strangio, Dennis Behrens and Brandon Murphy) spent months organizing all of the paperwork, finding investors, developing business plans, marketing plans, and creating ALL of the Queen City FC files and ideas that would run the club for two seasons.

Developing a National Premier Soccer League franchise is not terribly difficult, despite what you may think. Basically, you need to develop a business plan, have a board of directors, register your team as an LLC (which you would be silly not to do) and then come up with the money and you are set. To get a NPSL franchise now in the Eastern Conference, the entrance fee is $10,000, so it is not peanuts, but if you are in a good location, and have the drive and determination you can do it.

The professional aspect of the club is in the works for 2010, as we work with the new ownership and new coach to ensure we will be the most competitive at that level. However, with the talent coming in this season, I am sure this will happen in the next year.

You took a truly unique path in turning your passion for soccer into a prominent position with a professional club. It almost gives us lowly bloggers a glimmer of hope to get out of our parents' basements! Tell us about how you went from covering the sport, to working in a PR capacity, to essentially managing your own club.

As I was not around for the founding of the club, this is where I can really give you my experience and tell you how I started on the path that I am on now.

Back in 2006 I lived in Villacañas, Spain, a small town located about 30 minutes to the East of Toledo. There I was a headmaster at an English School, coincidentally called We Speak English. It was a town of 10,000 people, so needless to say nothing was really going on during the week as everyone in town was stuck working and most of my friends lived away during the work week.

About half way through my time in Villacañas, I decided to start blogging, thanks to a nudge from a friend of mine who runs, one of the biggest Buffalo Sports Blogs around. Based on this, I started Lets-Go-Buffalo, a sports blog with a twist. I covered mostly Buffalo Sabres hockey (still a passion of mine) but I did it from Spain, and stayed up most nights until 3am to watch games via Sopcast (essentially a program that broadcasts channels over the internet).

I ran LGB for about 6 months, and when I moved home, it started to lose interest to me. However, I realized that now that I was back in the states, I would start blogging about soccer, which was much more interesting to me, as well as less widely covered, allowing me to actually receive hits and make an impact.

Based on this, I sent out emails to other soccer bloggers asking them to come on board and make a multi-pundit website. Two bloggers answered, Breton Bonnett and Jeff Bull, and together we formed Center Holds It. My main soccer focus was on Spain's La Liga. This allowed me to be one of the few bloggers that primarily focuses on La Liga, and I was able to utilize my Spanish to translate and provide content to English speakers who were not able to read in Spanish. We went with Center Holds It for one year, as we were originally hosted on wordpress, Soon after, we were approached by BigSoccer about our content and we ended up jumping ship to the BigSoccer website, and we are still there today.

During the time that Center Holds It was small, I also started doing tons of guest blogging, on BfloBlog and other various spots. At this time I also approached Daryl Grove, who is the head of The Offside, about running a The Offside-Sevilla page. When I lived in Spain in 2004, I lived directly across from the Sevilla FC stadium. I wanted to try to recruit new Sevilla FC fans that were not versed in Spanish football, and also could not read in Spanish. Daryl allowed me to start The Offside-Sevilla and I was able to gain a small following for Sevilla FC.

Sevilla FC's stadium, Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Capacity: 45,500.

In getting involved with The Offside, we soon developed a podcast, and I was featured weekly on the Podcast in round table discussions about soccer, with my focus being on La Liga. I also wrote on the weekends for the front page, and had posts with upwards of 20,000 daily views.

Word quickly spread that I was the only blogger in the world writing about Sevilla FC in English, and was invited on Sevillistas por el mundo (Sevilla fans throughout the world) by Jesus Alvarado, who is one of the most widly respected Sevilla FC minds in the world. I also was placed in contact with other Sevilla FC fans living in the United States and the first Sevilla FC supporters club was formed a short while later (, in which I am one of the first members.

Now, while all of this happened, I decided to focus my blogging efforts back home in Buffalo, and was turned on to Queen City FC, a local semi-professional team playing in the National Premier Soccer League. I went out to cover a free clinic they were giving to local kids, and spoke with Chris Keem at length about the club. I offered my blogging and writing skills and was given the position of Director of Media Relations with the club.

It should be said at this time that I had NO experience with Media Relations, Business or anything of the sort. I simply was willing to learn and devote 100% to the cause.

Soon I was writing press releases, conducting interviews, writing stories for local newspapers, going on radio and TV interviews, and talking with potential investors and writers for the club. I quickly became absorbed into the world of soccer, and into Queen City FC.

The more I did, the more I became involved with the President and GM and wanted that to be my next position. I started attending meetings and became responsible for more and more day to day activites in the club, in a way neglecting my role as Media Relations Director.

After the end of the NPSL season, Chris informed me he would be stepping down as President, and that he would hand the club over to me to run. Easy right?

Well, I inherited a club that was $22,000 in debt, along with having a terrible season and not making the playoffs. Quickly, I realized that running a semi-professional soccer club would be an incredible amount of work, but work that would soon pay off.

During this time, I was approached by Mike Share, who is a former professional soccer player who lives in Marbella, Spain. Mike was interested in setting up partnerships between Queen City FC and professional clubs in Europe and abroad. I informed Mike about the current financial situation and in only a few days, we had a potential owner lined up, and started working out deals for a Dutch businessman to come on board and purchase the club.

We are close to cementing this deal in the next week, and we will be announcing the deal on our website as soon as it takes place. With this new ownership, Mike Share was named coach of Queen City FC, and will help us reach our goal of being NPSL champions and beyond.

In the last two months, we finalized a deal between Queen City FC and AFA Marbella, one of the top academy programs in Southern Spain. This will allow AFA players to come over to the states in the hopes of gaining college scholarships. The deal opens up many doors for American players to play in Spain, and also for Fulham and Peterborough FC in League 1.

We are also working on deals with clubs in Brazil, South American and Thailand in the upcoming months.

The thing with Queen City FC is that I have NO formal Business training, except for a few small seminars taken while I was program director at a local YMCA. That is is. I essentially went from blogger, to bigger blogger, to Media Relations Director, and to President and GM in literally one year.

Why do you think you were given the keys to the car as opposed to others within the organization?

All of the people in the organization were willing to work hard, and everyone put their work in, but the time in my life was just right. I was in my PhD for Linguistics at the time, but was able to put all of my free time into the club (by working some part time jobs and also with the good graces of a loving girlfriend). All of the work that we did was volunteer, except for coaching, which I never wanted to be paid for and would rather have it put back into the club.

When Chris gave up the club, I just said 'I wanted it' and that I would bring it back from debt into a fiscally stable business, and make it a successful one at that, and here I am.

I was willing to work so hard to get paid nothing, so he knew that I would work even harder to get this to be a paid position.

How does your professional experience compare with your counterparts in the same position with other teams in the league - how unique was your path?

I'd like to think of myself as the youngest Chairman in soccer, and I'm pretty sure that is a fact. Other presidents and GM's in the league have been at it for years, have played professionally, have their 'A' coaching licenses, and here I am, a 25 year old Linguist who just started to get his coaching badges, and who many have called as 'too young,' which seems to be a theme with the young professionals you are profiling on this site.

My path is unique because I come from a very limited business background, but look at some successful companies in your area and chances are they do not have any business background either. I have been involved in soccer, and interested in soccer for years. I've lived in Spain and have been a part of the soccer culture over there, so I know first hand what we can do with Queen City, and how to do it.

My favorite quote ever is 'Lo que en los libros no está, la vida te enseñará' (What you can't find in books, life will show you'). That is my motto. It doesn't matter that I have no business class experience, but rather I have a better chance than any of those guys. Students are busy working internships where they make copies and maybe a phone call or two. I am running my own club because I have the drive and determination to do so. I have some great advisors in the club and abroad that give me great advice. I use plenty of business social networking sites (LinkedIn, SportsManagement2.0, etc) that help me connect with other owners, players, marketing directors, and that is my classroom.

From what I've seen, the NPSL is rapidly growing. Has the expansion affected the quality of play or are there more than enough quality players to sustain a high level of competition in the US?

There are plenty of quality players in the US to field teams. The toughest part is trying to convince players in your area to play for your club. Also, foreign players can play for your clubs as long as they have amateur status, which most do because they are playing in university and need to find a quality soccer club to play for in the summer.

Expansion hasn't affected most clubs, but rather helped them because now we do not have to make terribly long road trips and it gives more of a 'regional' and 'rivalry' feel to the games when you play another team that is 2 hours down the road instead of a 10 hour marathon drive.

Andy Larracuente taking a free kick in a pre-season scrimmage.

How does the club recruit its players?

Actually, we do it two ways. I probably receive about 20 emails a week from people literally all over the world wanting to play for Queen City. Most do it because they want to come to the United States, and I have to inform them that I cannot give out visas, and they have to get here themselves, which is normally a no go. I also get emails from local and players in the states that want a try out and we look at game tapes, and invite them to the open tryout right around Christmas.

The other players we go after we get through recruiting. We talk to college coaches, go on college websites, and head out to as many games as possible. Former players are great help as well as they can talk to the new players coming in and tell them what we have to offer.

Aside from the two normal ways, we put out ads on our website, and on message boards and via the schools. You never know when you can find a diamond in the rough that does not play in their college team, but is a stud.

Captain, Al Franjoine in the US Open Cup game against Danbury United.

Most of the squad consists of "NCAA players and some who have recently graduated from college and are looking to make the step to the next level." What are they paid and do most of these players work other jobs to supplement their income?

Players are paid $0. They are amateurs and we cannot pay them for anything, except for any expenses that we incur on the road (food and room and board). Other than that, they are on our own.

Most players work for us during the summer, training our house and travel teams, coaching in our summer camps and other local summer camps, and during our clinics. Some players get other jobs as well, but if we can provide them with enough hours through soccer, it is better since they are getting more touches on the ball as well as having a good time. What player wouldn't want to make a living coaching and playing soccer.

Have any players made the jump from Queen City to the next level?

Andy Lorei (forward) was signed by the Rochester Rhinos in the USL. Shawn McDonell (keeper) was one of the last cuts for the Vancouver Whitecaps and also for Toronto FC. Daine Merrin went to the A-League in Australia.

Speaking of income, if you don't mind us asking how much does a President/GM of a NPSL soccer team typically make - if not you personally, on average?

I currently make $0. Yes, I do not make any money in my position. That is because I had to bring the team out of debt, so in essence I've probably made about -$2,000 so far.

I cannot speak for the rest of the clubs. I know that some make good money, mostly through running tons of youth teams and programs and clinics. However, each club is different in what they focus on. Queen City FC is mostly focusing on developing top level players to send abroad, and when this happens, we can make about $200,000 on each player that gets put into the European ranks.

When it is all said and done and we get the club up and running, I forsee myself making around $50,000-$70,000 a year, with the income coming in from all sides, with players, international camps, merchandise, etc.

But until the money comes in, I'll be making just enough to make ends meet, which for me is around $1,000 a month.

As with most clubs, Queen City FC has various levels of competition and development teams. How has that played into energizing the community around the club and in recruiting and developing good young players at a young age?

Having various levels of competition allows us to 'advertise' to a wide range of kids. However, we do things a bit differently at Queen City.

When we formed the club, we took a lot of slack from local youth clubs who did not want us to 'steal' their kids into our club, essentially taking away their revenue. Let's face it, a U-6 player is great, but it is revenue, sorry to say. We tried to keep the Youth Academy up and running, but kids and local clubs were avoiding us like the plague.

When I came into the position, I got rid of the youth academy and decided to simply focus on doing the training for the clubs around the area. When you see U-6 coaches, they are mostly parents (mom's and dads) or local people who want to get involved, but probably have almost no knowledge of the game. So, Queen City gets paid to go into these clubs and help train the youth teams. In this way we simply can go in, train the kids and have a good time doing it, see which kids are good, and we do not have to run the youth program and deal with all of the angry parents, etc. And, we get paid money for doing it, we do not piss off the other clubs, and when all is said and done, we can hit up more teams in more areas this way.

You can also form tournament teams to recruit players and you do not have to worry about having them be dual carded (playing for two teams with two separate player cards is prohibited in WNY soccer). But, tournament teams simply travel to tournaments and play in the best ones around. We will also be organizing trips abroad with tournament teams, and running striker, goalkeeper, and other clinics to recruit the best players in the area who want to hone their skills with us, but they can still play with their friends in their house league.

Tell us about the facility you play at and what requirements were necessary for having the team as part of the NPSL.

We play at All-High Stadium which was used as Wrigley Field in The Natural. It's all redone with $6.5 million pumped into it by the Buffalo Public Schools. 4,500 seats, all covered.

The league requires the following for game facilities: min. 500 seat stadium, home/away locker rooms with showers, ref’s changing room with showers, PA system, scoreboard, clock, US Flag, 65x110 minimum size.

You are not only running a business, but also facilitating financial partnerships locally and internationally. How much of a factor, positive or negative, does your age and experience play on the business end of things?

If I said that my age and experience doesn't play a factor, I would be lying. I love when I simply get rejected because I am too young. I just kindly tell them that when they see the team on TV this season and going pro in 2010 that they can come to a game if they want and support us, and maybe we can talk then.

My age is normally not a problem. I am extremely lucky to have Mike Share on board at the club, who has done most of the work internationally with the partnership clubs. He is the reason the clubs are drawn to us because of what he can give them. But, again, Mike is only 24 years old as well.

Once we show the investors and the partners that we are ready to do this, and come in with all of our business plans, master plans, and the like, they know we are serious. They also like that we are young, since we are willing to go after it.

Another important aspect to have in place is a solid core of advisers, or a board of directors who can advise you, and who can give your company some clout. We have several of the biggest developers in the region on board with us, and local coaches, some of whom have coached abroad. This gives us a sense of having the 'old guys' on board but still having the younger guys ready to go.

It's more of a 'What can you give me?' argument, than a 'You are too young.' argument.

My experience doesn't hurt me, but rather I learn from every experience that I have, whether it be a meeting, a sponsorship presentation, or a phone discussion. I make mistakes, but I learn from them, which is important. I'd rather learn by experience than learn by reading out of a book and never having a chance of doing it.

Take us through your typical day, and how does it change in the offseason?

Typical day? My girlfriend makes me put up a weekly schedule on the fridge so she can know what I mean when I say 'I have a game tonight.' because that could be about 10 different things. My days are pretty much the same in the season and offseason, except if we have games and I have to go into the stadium.

For instance, I'll give you my schedule from yesterday. Mind you, I have a girlfriend (soon to be fiancee) and a 5 month old puppy, plus I'm still taking some masters classes (Phonology II, Neurolinguistics and Historical Linguistics). So, my days are busy.

6:00am-Wake up to my 5 month old Sheltie Puppy barking-Take her out
6:15am-Drink my obligatory cup of tea and have breakfast watching the 1:00am taped version of Sky Sports News to see what's the newest soccer headlines.
6:45am-Start checking and returning my emails (normally have 20-30 a morning since Spain time is 6 hours ahead and they are already in the middle of their day).
8:00am-Work on advertising and marketing for our USA v CUBA game at our soccer bar in town, making phone calls, arranging the food, talking to the guinness distributor.
10:00am-Take the dog for a walk and listen to my soccer podcasts to hear what is going on in Spain and abroad.
11:00am-Talk to my contact in Brazil about forming a partnership and a school in Brazil via MSN and talk to a new contact I found on SportsMarketing2.0. Discuss the club and soccer and everything else related.
12:30pm-Eat lunch infront of the computer watching a Youth Soccer coaching DVD.
1:00pm-Prepare coaching plans for the night. We have U-6 training on Tuesday nights from 6:00pm-7:00pm.
2:00pm-Send out the obligatory text reminding everyone about training, hope no one cancels.
2:15pm-Update the website and check the message boards for any NPSL news, or any new contacts in college.
3:15pm-Return phone calls that I've let go to voicemail during the day (future players, solicitors, parents, possible partnerships).
4:30pm-Leave my apartment with my girlfriend and dog to head out to the park for training.
5:15pm-Arrive at the park, set up training schedule and fields
6:00pm-Train my U-6 team (6 teams total, one trainer a team)
7:00pm-Clean up, drive my girlfriend and dog back home
7:45pm-Eat a quick dinner
8:00pm-Leave my house and pick up my Spanish friend to head to our mens league game
9:00pm-Play my BSC International mens league game, we win 4-0.
10:00pm-Talk to the owners at the sports complex I play at about possible trial dates, etc.
10:45pm-Head home,spend some quality time with the family.
11:30pm-Girlfriend heads to bed, I head to the office to answer emails, listen to podcasts, read top stories, and finalize my schedule for the following day, and do whatever else I need to do for the club.
2:15am-Head to bed.

Amazing dedication for zero pay.

The club appears to have close to 20 front office employees. Are all of these positions full-time? What qualities do you look for in filling these positions? How much oversight do you have in each of the various aspects of the club?

All of the positions are volunteer. In order to fill the positions, you have to be motivated, and willing to work hard, that is really it. I look for experience and for passion in each of the positions, but experience you can learn, I'm an example of that.

I oversee everything that happens in the club. I dole out the jobs and advise them on how to complete them, when to do it by, etc. Most of them know what is expected, and I always tell them to go out and find new ways to do things. We need to become a bigger club, so if they are bored, they should be doing something new!

When the club grows, the positions will become full time, starting from the top down.

There are obvious glaring differences between European clubs, where futbol is a religion, and those in America. From your experience in Spain and that in Buffalo, what are those major differences? What elements from Europe would you like to see adopted in the US? And which are most realistic?

This could be a possible thesis topic! The major difference is that in the US, soccer has to compete with tons of other sports (Hockey, Football, Basketball, Baseball). Whereas, in Spain it's soccer, and maybe basketball, and that's it. So, there is no choice when it comes to soccer. It is a part of the culture, as much as religion is. If you want to see this, read Franklin Foer's book 'How Soccer Explains The World' and it will explain all of this in more detail.

I don't know how much of the soccer life in Spain we can really adopt here in the US. Personally, I think that some teams try to do what they do in Europe without changing anything, and this doesn't work in the states. We want to have the culture and atmosphere like they have in Europe, but it needs to have an American flair about it as well.

Realistically, if the product on the pitch is better, it will help grow the game in general. The more we do away with the typical American kick and chase style of play and rely on more of a European style, our players will be more coveted abroad. Now more than ever Americans are traveling abroad to play and are being recruited by European teams.

Also, the game will grow is teams from all over make their clubs 'professional'. This will force the soccer hating mainstream media to finally get off their high horse and realize it is coming. But, that is a whole other story.

For some time, soccer has been said to be on the verge of hitting it big in the States, yet despite youth soccer being as popular as ever, they never seem to be able to get over the hump. What in your opinion has held it back? What would you do differently than is already being done to promote the sport.

More kids than ever are playing the sport, but promoting it is difficult. Promoting it to kids is only a small fraction of the market you actually go after. I like to characterize the market into 7 different sections, with men and women the same in these sections.

1) Joe American Soccer Fan.

Joe Fan is the FIRST to tell you that we all need to raise the profile of the game in the country, and that he (bear with me, as a linguist I wish we had a gender neutral singular pronoun, but we don't) is pissed off that writers are still bashing the game, and that David Beckham coming to the states was a bad idea. They will talk MLS all day long, watch US MNT games, and even play a few games of kickabout themselves.

But propose the idea of coming to an amateur game to support local talent, and you would think you were selling them the plague. These fans are the ones that can kill you. The ones that swear they love the game, but will drive 1 hr to support a MLS team, but will not pay $5 a family and drive 2 minutes to watch your local PDL or NPSL team play. Hell, they probably even know a few of these kids.

Solution:? You HAVE to get a fan base that can give them the atmosphere that they want. They want drums, they want to post 1000 times a day on forums, they want to have supporters clubs, a bar, places to hang out, tailgates. So you give that to them. You give em season ticket packages with T-shirts, you give them beer coosies, and you make them want to come. The more 'professional' you make it for them, the more they want to be a part of it.

2) Euro Snobs

This group is almost hopeless. You know these guys, the ones that wear the newest Manchester United shirt, but wouldn't dare to show up at your game because 'If It's not European, it's crap' (channeling Michael Meyers' character on SNL). These guys just hate American Soccer in general, and do not want anything to do with it.

Solution: ALWAYS ADVERTISE FOREIGN PLAYERS. They hate the local guy, but love the foreign striker from Brazil. Many people are of the mentality, if it is European, it's better. And, trust me, it does exist. When I do PR spots, I always send a guy with an accent, and it works. Trust me on that. Make it as European as possible. Since I lived in Spain,I've lived Spanish soccer, and it's in my blood. I run things that way anyways, but we always have scarves, and a club song, and walk out onto the pitch with mascots (kids) hand in hand with every player. Again, make it professional.

3) New Soccer Fans

This group is the most interesting to me. New Soccer fans seem to have this intense fear of being wrong, so they never seem to integrate themselves into any specific group. They are the ones who are chastised for not knowing what offsides is, or why away goals seem to count for 2 goals. But, you want these new fans as they want to be involved in the games, and will root for a local side because that is often where they are from, and they can feel involved with the club, often forming or becoming part of a supporters club within your team.

Solution: Make things welcoming to new fans. Incorporate the laws of the game on the website. Encourage new fans to get inovlved with the club, volunteering or coming out to practices. Do little trivia contests with the rules, give them a drum to beat or a scarf to wear. Make them feel welcome, and they will come back.

4) Kids (and their parents)

Let's face it,when you market to a kid, you are also marketing to their parents. Kids want to come to games because it is fun. You HAVE to promote events for kids to peak their interest. For one of our games, we have a 2 hour skills competition that runs before the main game, where kids can test their skills against Queen City FC players, dribbling, accuracy, speed, agility, etc. We keep the top scores and at halftime they can go out and compete against one-another for prizes (of course EVERYONE wins a prize, that goes without saying). Invite the kids to jump into chanting and cheering by having your Public Address announcer acknowledge them at the games.

For the parents, you should be marketing it to them as fun for the whole family. Little Jimmy who is 3 can have his face painted and jump in a bounce house, while the 8 and 12 year olds can do the skills competition and mom and dad can get some hot dogs and burgers and just have a nice time. Provide parents with a place to sit, and plenty of opportunities to also become involved with their children.

5) Men's soccer players (rec league, mens league)

These guys sometimes are not the best to get into the stadium as they are already full of soccer, probably with most of them coaching themselves and playing too. These guys are 'soccered out' as we say here. You have to provide them with a reason to come, mainly free tickets, and get them to spend the $ on merch or at the stands.

6) International students

My Queen City FC games are littered with my Spanish friends who I always get to support us, simply because it is a way of life to support a club. With this being said, go after international students at the local university, even for volunteer coaches, or to come to games.

What we did as well is we partnered with a local bar to make it the ONLY soccer bar in Buffalo. Now, on Saturdays and Sundays the bar is filled with 20-40 people watching soccer, and who will become ticket holders this season because they now know we have a team thanks to their love for the game in general. Most international students are used to watching games in big groups, so give them a place to watch the games and watch the crowds form.

What are your ultimate career goals?

I would love to take Queen City FC to the next level and see us win a USL championship. After my girlfriend graduates with her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience, we want to take off to another country to live for a while, possibly Spain again, or Australia, New Zealand, England, who knows? I'd get into working with a professional team.

My true passion is coaching, and I will continue to get my coaching badges until I can hopefully coach at a collegiate or pro level. I will remain active in the front office, but who knows where my career will take me. Just a year ago I was planning on being a Sociolinguist and now I am here. So, things can change.

Short term, as long as Queen City FC is successful, then I'll take it one step at a time.

What's the most rewarding part of your current job?

Coaching U-6 kids who get mad if Coach Ryan is 1 minute late. And seeing the excitement in their eyes when we practice and when they know they've done their best. I'm not just a figurehead as President, but I'm out on the pitch training constantly and promoting the team.

Biggest perks?

Well, now I don't have many! Generally getting free kits, boots, jerseys, from companies who want me to buy their stuff. Soon to be added to the list is traveling to Spain and being able to work with professional clubs around the world!

Biggest hassles or obstacles?

Having to work all the time and not being able to spend enough time with my family. Balancing my life.

Anything you would have changed during college to better prepare you? Relevant courses or internships you'd recommend?

Ha, um, not be a linguist? I honestly don't know. Maybe taking that Native American Languages class didn't help that much. The best part of college is GO AND STUDY ABROAD!!!! It doesn't matter what major you are, go and study abroad, somewhere. It is always looked highly upon by potential employers, and will help open your eyes, especially when it comes to sport.

What advice would you offer those looking to follow in your footsteps or even break into sports in general?

I'll give you my two quotes I live by, and I follow every day.

'Lo que en los libros no está la vida te enseñará' (What's not in books, life will show you')


'Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho' (From saying, to doing, there is a lot of distance).

See all our "So You Want to Work in Sports?" Features Here.



tanyaa said...

In his normal life, Ryan is a PhD student studying Linguistics at the University at Buffalo, New York where he researches Catalan Language Policy and Planning, along with immigrants and their feelings and thoughts on Catalan policies enacted by the Generalitat.In his second life, he is involved in all things soccer related. He is the founder of Center Holds It, which is a featured blog on BigSoccer ( where he discusses all things La Liga.
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