Sports industry pros pitch ideas for success

By Mike Ricchione

Vince Marcucci, Dylan DiSimine, Matt Hillman, Jeff Hurley and Lydia Rios discuss their time working for the Trenton Thunder baseball team during an event hosted by Sigma Phi Epsilon and Rider’s Business of Sports Club in the Sweigart Auditorium on Nov. 28.

Students interested in the sports industry had the opportunity to network with executives from the Trenton Thunder organization, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, on Nov. 28.

Sigma Phi Epsilon and the Business of Sports Club hosted the panel, which talked about the business of minor league baseball.

The group of sports professionals discussed their path toward the Thunder and the work that they have done since taking on jobs for the team. The panelists included General Manager Jeff Hurley, Vice President of Marketing Lydia Rios, Group Sales Account Executive Matt Hillman, Web and Creative Services Manager Dylan DiSimine, and Director of Corporate and Community Affairs Vince Marcucci.

The panel started with Marcucci, who is entering his fourth season with the Trenton Thunder. Before joining the organization, Marcucci helped with community outreach efforts for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, another minor league team. His piece of advice to the audience was to “take on additional responsibilities outside of what they ask.”

Meanwhile, DiSimine, who has only been with the Thunder for a month and a half, advised the audience to “make connections, keep connections, reach out to your connections, and don’t burn bridges.”

Previously, DeSimine worked with the Camden Riversharks, a sports radio station in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hillman is a Rider alumnus who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. His advice for the audience was to “think of sales.” Hillman, like Marcucci, took on additional responsibilities too. He also runs the Trenton Thunder’s Kids Club.

Hillman described his typical day as, “Making 40 phone calls, putting on the Boomer suit [the team mascot], driving to the elementary school and then going back and printing up 500 tickets.”

Hurley also provided insight on his job, mentioning the time commitment his work requires of him.

“I got to work a lot of hours, and I got to work weekends, but I can still do this and enjoy it as well.”

Hurley started out as an intern for the Thunder in 2004 and has stayed with them since.

“[I worked] in so many departments from game day operations to parking staff, merchandise, tickets, administration, accounting,” Hurley said. “I really do think this internship propelled me to where I needed to go.”

Hurley echoed that sales was the best approach to the industry.

After four months of working in the sales sector, Hurley made his way into media relations. In 2007, he went on to work as the team’s accounting director and used that as a launching pad to become the chief financial officer, and eventually, the general manager.

Hurley described his duties as “leading a staff of 30 full-time people, 250 part-time people to one common goal.”

Rios was the last to speak. She provoked the audience to think about their passion for sports.

“The hours are long, so you really have to love it,” Rios said.

She didn’t start out in sports. Instead, Rios began her career in corporate America. When she got into sports, she realized that it was completely different, noting that “this isn’t your ordinary 9 to 5 job.”

The panel was well-received by students, many of whom aspire to work in the sports industry.

“I think they were very helpful and just kind of bringing jobs to life, personality-wise. You can see that it’s not just about working hard. You can have fun doing it too,” said freshman marketing major Goanio Chavarria.

Former Business of Sports club president and senior marketing major Kyle Geissler was also pleased with the outcome of the event, adding that “they’re a resource that we want to use down the line.”

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