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PRODIGY SPORTS

NEWS

Author - Megan Meisse

Recruiters on the Conference Circuit

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

People often ask me and others at Prodigy Sports what our goals and objectives are at sports and entertainment industry conferences.  The initial inclination is that what we are trying to get out of and achieve at a conference is different than most attendees.  However, given our unique role in the industry (i.e.: not a team or league; nor a traditional vendor selling a product), it is a valid question.  Perhaps there would be value in our attendance at a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) event or recruiting conference but our industry is so different and specialized that those conferences wouldn’t come close to matching the value we get and return on our investment.  Given we dive deep into the sports and entertainment industries every day in our projects, it only makes sense to attend these conferences as well, even if we are not the traditional target audience that it may be marketed to.

In no particular order, as recruiters in attendance, we have several tangible and intangible boxes to check off:

  • Meeting our past, present, and future candidates.  Putting a face with a name is critical.  Building rapport with people we ask to trust us with confidentiality and private details about their career, personal life, and salary is paramount.  Networking is key at these conferences so what better opportunity than to meet face-to-face (regardless of whether it is a coffee break, luncheon, or cocktail reception/happy hour).
  • Meeting our past and present clients.  While we have easy access to New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C., our clients are spread out from Florida to California and everywhere in between and possibly out of the country.  Conferences are a great central meeting place and time to check in on our placements, ask for feedback and suggestions on our work and processes, and dialogue about current projects.  Most importantly – we must use this time to say THANK YOU.
  • Seek out and pursue new business.  Clearly, we’re not the only ones at a conference looking at bringing back a lead to the office and converting new business but given we don’t view ourselves as a “vendor”, it isn’t done at a trade show or sponsored lunch.  Our role and what we do is based on people, the human element, so therefore our value is best proven and shown through our relationships, transparency, credibility, and strength in evaluating executive-level talent.
  • Listen, observe, and ask questions.  Getting the pulse of industry happenings, following the “movers and shakers”, understanding trends, and actively/passively participating in the conversation are critical.  We must be informed, even as generalists, about who is doing what in our industry, why they are doing it, and what the results/reaction are or have been. This is also helpful for us to see which areas we can focus our outreach in throughout certain teams, leagues, and venues.
  • Connect with industry friends to build and cement relationships.  Celebrate the victories, show appreciation for their friendship and support, and offer to help with anything personally and professionally.

Everyone’s reasoning for attending conferences is different but the value remains the same for all…even executive recruiters.

 

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

RECENT PLACEMENT: Jeffrey Young – NHRA

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Jeffrey Young as Vice President of Marketing & Communications with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

Young previously was with Professional Bull Riders Inc. for over seven years in various capacities, including his most recent role of Regional Vice President, Live Event Marketing. Prior to his tenure with PBR, Young was Advertising Manager with the Nashville Sounds, AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

In his role with NHRA, Young will focus on advertising and promotions, fan engagement and communications and will develop and manage digital marketing initiatives, including social media, geo-targeted web advertising and local web promotions. Young will also develop tactical marketing plans and creative support for direct-to-consumer offerings including membership, event attendance, premium services and add-ons.

 About NHRA

 Headquartered in Glendora, California, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Jeffrey Young to NHRA!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Jordan Sherman – Gen.G Esports

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Jordan Sherman as Head of Sponsorship Sales & Revenue Operations with Gen.G Esports (formerly KSV eSports).

Sherman previously was Director of Corporate Partnerships with the LA Clippers where he sold to major brands & ad agencies to generate revenue through digital initiatives, social media sponsorships, integrated partnerships, and strategic acquisitions. Prior to his time with the Clippers, Sherman was Account Executive, Sponsorship Sales with Major League Baseball for over four years after time with Major League Baseball Advanced Media as Business Development Manager.

In his role with Gen.G, Sherman work in collaboration with the CGO & COO to set sponsorship objectives, strategies and specific implementation steps. He will be tasked with presenting the brand to potential national/international sponsorship partners and develop an integrated, solution driven approach to creating sponsorship packages.

 About Gen.G Esports

Gen.G Esports is an esports collaboration between Silicon Valley and Seoul, combining the skills and dedication of the Korean esports culture backed by the investment and global reach of California’s Silicon Valley. We take pride in our vision of creating and guiding homegrown Korean esports teams into champions on the international stage. Gen.G Esports owns and operates two Overwatch rosters, including Seoul Dynasty, as well as the former Samsung Galaxy League of Legends roster. We also carry a top-level Korean Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds squad & MVP Black’s Heroes of the Storm lineup. Backed by top Silicon Valley and Korean investors, Gen.G Esports represents the next generation of esports, bringing the best in esports management, event production, and fan engagement together in one company.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Jordan Sherman to Gen.G Esports!

Best of luck in your new role!

PRODIGY SPORTS & ALLIANCE OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL

CONTACT: Allie Koeck, allie@prodigysports.net or 732.303.9950.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release

PRODIGY SPORTS AND ALLIANCE OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE PARTNERSHIP

(Freehold, New Jersey, May 14, 2018)   Prodigy Sports, one of the nation’s leading search and recruitment firms solely dedicated to the multibillion dollar business of sports, today announced that they have been exclusively retained by the Alliance of American Football (AAF) to lead multiple executive level searches in preparation for their forthcoming, and much anticipated, launch.

“As we build out all aspects of The Alliance, we needed a trusted partner with the bandwidth and resources to quickly source several key positions within business operations, sales and marketing for our member teams as well as our League Office. We could not ask for a better firm than Prodigy Sports, whose integrity and proven ability to fully understand the culture of a start-up league like the Alliance of American Football makes them an invaluable asset,” said Tom Veit, Head of Business Operations, The Alliance.

Founded by brilliant media mind and entrepreneur, Charlie Ebersol, and NFL Hall of Famer, Bill Polian, the AAF will begin its inaugural season in February of 2019. The Alliance will be comprised of eight teams, each with 50-men rosters. The AAF recently announced that their first city will be Orlando, and the team will be led by legendary Head Coach Steve Spurrier. They announced their second city to be Atlanta, with veteran Coach Brad Childress at the helm, and their third city is Memphis, coached by Super Bowl Champion Mike Singletary.

Scott Carmichael, Founder & CEO of Prodigy Sports said, “We are thrilled and honored to be working with true trailblazers, Mr. Ebersol, and Mr. Polian, on this exciting new venture.  We are grateful for Tom Veit’s trust and confidence in Prodigy Sports.  Tom is a respected industry veteran whom we have known for many years and consider to be one of the most talented executives in sports and live entertainment.”

About the Alliance of American Football

Led by some of the most respected football minds in the game, The Alliance of American Football is high-quality professional football fueled by a dynamic Alliance between players, fans and the game. Fans will be able to stream Alliance matchups live via the free Alliance app while accessing integrated fantasy options with real rewards — for themselves and the players they are cheering on. Players will have state-of-the-art protection on the field and ample opportunities off it. The Alliance will provide players a comprehensive bonus system, post-football career planning as well as counseling and scholarship support for post-secondary education. Founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Famer Bill Polian, The Alliance features eight teams, under a single entity structure, playing a 12-week season kicking-off February 9, 2019 on CBS and culminating with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28, 2019.

Be sure to connect with the AAF on Twitter at @TheAAF and visit their website at AAF.com.

 About Prodigy Sports

With a staff that carries over 80 years of experience across multiple business segments, Prodigy Sports is a nationwide leader in senior-level executive search and recruitment, in which our distinction is Where the Best Brands Come for the Best Talent.

With thousands of deeply-rooted relationships with senior-level sports and entertainment executives and premier organizations, Prodigy Sports ensures our clients the most talented and accomplished candidates for their specific needs and corporate culture, resulting in a seamless, thorough and successful recruitment.

 

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RECENT PLACEMENT: Kyle Draper – IRONMAN

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Kyle Draper as Senior Director, National Sales & Global Partnerships with IRONMAN.

Draper most recently spent almost three years with Palace Sports & Entertainment as Vice President, Corporate Partnerships. Prior, he was with IMG College as General Manager, University of South Carolina. Before that, Draper was with the Tampa Bay Lightning/Tampa Bay Times Forum for just under seven years as Vice President, Corporate Partnerships. Earlier in his career, Draper held positions with various professional sports entities including the Golden State Warriors, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers.

In his role with IRONMAN, Draper will assist in the sponsorship sales efforts for all IRONMAN events in the United States and Canada.

About IRONMAN

 On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors came to the shores of Waikiki, Hawaii to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge. It was an idea hatched by John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his wife Judy during a swim club gathering. Collins’ proposal was a friendly test of fitness combining the three toughest endurance races on the island into one race: The 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 112-miles Around-Oahu Bike Race, followed by a 26.2-mile run on the Honolulu Marathon course. That very first race would go on to set the stage for what IRONMAN would become: not only the most challenging single-day sporting event in the world, but a brand symbolizing the belief that “Anything is Possible.”

Prodigy Sports welcomes Kyle Draper to IRONMAN!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Vince Cicero – IRONMAN

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Vince Cicero as Head of Sales, Global Partnerships with IRONMAN.

Most recently, Cicero was with Feld Entertainment as Vice President, Global Partnerships where he had direct oversight for the revenue generating team which was charged with crafting marketing partnerships across corporate America. Cicero also spent time with the Western & Southern Open as COO & Tournament Director after a 13-year tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals as Director of Corporate Sales, Marketing & Broadcasting.

In his role with IRONMAN, Cicero will drive the acquisition of Series wide partnerships, Title Sponsorships and overall Marketing Partnerships and contribute to the financial success of the organization. He will also oversee the sponsorship sales efforts for events in the United States and Canada with a combination of personal sales efforts as well as leadership role for the North American sales team. 

About IRONMAN

 On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors came to the shores of Waikiki, Hawaii to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge. It was an idea hatched by John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his wife Judy during a swim club gathering. Collins’ proposal was a friendly test of fitness combining the three toughest endurance races on the island into one race: The 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 112-miles Around-Oahu Bike Race, followed by a 26.2-mile run on the Honolulu Marathon course. That very first race would go on to set the stage for what IRONMAN would become: not only the most challenging single-day sporting event in the world, but a brand symbolizing the belief that “Anything is Possible.”

Prodigy Sports welcomes Vince Cicero to IRONMAN!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Hugh Lombardi – Target Center

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Hugh Lombardi as General Manager, Target Center with AEG Facilities. Lombardi will also assume the role of Regional Vice President of AEG Facilities.

Prior to joining AEG Facilities, Lombardi spent almost two years with SMG as General Manager, Chesapeake Energy Arena/Cox Convention Center. Before his time in Oklahoma City, Lombardi served as Senior Vice President/General Manager of the TD Garden with Delaware North after serving as COO, Senior Vice President and General Manager with Powers Management/Sommet Center, now Bridgestone Arena. Lombardi began his career with a ten-year tenure with Palace Sports & Entertainment.

 About AEG Facilities

AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment companies in the world with a network of over 120 owned, operated and programmed venues on five continents. AEG Facilities is a stand-alone division of AEG that owns, operates and consults with more than 100 of the industry’s preeminent venues worldwide. It has, at its fingertips, AEG’s vast network of resources and services, from live event producer – AEG Presents, to AEG Global Partnerships.

AEG Facilities is an elite collection of world-class venues with an unmatched level of resources, experience and talent. The Target Center Arena is a 19,000-seat arena in the heart of downtown Minneapolis is home to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, as well as concerts, family shows and special events.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Hugh Lombardi to AEG Facilities!

Best of luck in your new role!

RECENT PLACEMENT: Everett Coleman- H1Z1 Pro League

Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Everett Coleman as General Manager, H1Z1 Pro League.

Prior to Twin Galaxies, Everett worked as an Executive Product Manager in Las Vegas with Millennial Esports. His primary focus was on developing a team and building out the standardized documents. Before Millennial, Everett held a Project Management position with ESL where he developed financial reporting structures for projects and worked closely with product managers to discuss and evaluate their projects. One of his biggest accomplishments was pitching a prize money platform that he scoped from scratch.

Coleman’s job with H1Z1 is to Lead the global execution of high profile esports competitions and collaborate with internal stakeholders to design and iterate formats and systems that meet key game objectives, while also aligning with esports business priorities.

About Twin Galaxies, LLC

Focused on a “player-first” approach, the H1Z1 Pro League is a partnership between Daybreak Games and Twin Galaxies to create a sustainable, first of its kind, professional esports league for the “one versus all” battle royale genre. Through the partnership with Twin Galaxies, an organization built on community adjudication, the H1Z1 Pro League will be established as the pinnacle of integrity in esports. The truly unique partnership with Daybreak Games will allow for the close collaboration necessary to create a cohesive experience to go from average joe to professional player.

As the next generation of esports league, the mission of the H1Z1 Pro League is to operate with integrity and dedication to players and teams to establish a sustainable ecosystem. The H1Z1 Pro League is set to get underway in early 2018, with 15 teams of five players each competing in 75-player battles over two ten-week splits, followed by finals slated for late 2018.

 

Prodigy Sports welcomes Everett Coleman to Twin Galaxies!

Best of luck in your new role!

                                                                                                                                             

NFL Combine: From the Field to the Office

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

For a week in early March, college football players come from across the country to perform several physical and mental tests for their chance at a life-changing opportunity with the NFL. Showcasing their skills in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts from across the league, the NFL Scouting Combine has grown significance not only for the prospects but also for fans and media alike. With more than 300 prospects competing for their chance in the NFL, these prospects go through several tests and drills, from vertical jumps to offensive and defensive drills. These prospects also go through several rounds of interviews to test their mental strength, which could even be more important than their performance on the field or in the weight room.

As recruiters, we look at potential job candidates just as the NFL coaches and staff look at these combine prospects. To use some key NFL phrases throughout the week-long event, the prospects must show their value with their statistics and their measurables after their college playing career has ended. Similarly, the job candidate must show their value with their resume to highlight revenue generating, their experience, hard skills and soft skills. Blatantly showcase hard skills on a resume – technological, languages spoken; weave soft skills throughout. Prospects highlight their statistics including their numbers of sacks or games played so do not be afraid to also highlight your individual numbers. For sales, be confident in your comfort level with high-dollar amounts and explain your deep “rolodex” with examples. For more marketing/digital roles, promote your creativity and establish your own brand. Tell your story, use detail and examples.

Like NFL Combine prospects, interviews take place when seeking a new job opportunity and they can be just as important, and nerve-racking, as those that the athletes go through. Just like the active job seeker, athletes prepare for any question that can be asked of them but for some questions, there is just not enough preparation to answer the tough ones. Showcase your ability to think quick on your feet.

Aside from the skills behind a potential NFL prospect or a job candidate, one of the most important aspects of a person is their personality, which is highlighted in their interview. There have been several articles throughout the media coming straight from the Combine listing some of these unique questions. In a job search, be prepared for the tough questions. Aside from explaining your background, be prepared for questions like: Tell me about your greatest accomplishment? What do you know about our company/this role? What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome? The biggest mistake any candidate can make is not being prepared for their interview, simply because you are selling one of the most important brands – yourself.

A key phase in the NFL world is also viewing tape/film, which is seen any place from the NFL Combine to the locker room to the Super Bowl. It is critical for teams to review certain players and plays to see what they are truly made of or what to improve on. Hours are spent reviewing film for prospects and players and the same goes for the active job seeker in a similar fashion. Think of having good tape or film as your professional references. Of course, it is easy to pick the references who will say all the general “fluff” that you are a great person and hard worker but think outside the box when submitting references for a job. Think of clients you went above and beyond for. Think of a former co-worker you may have had to overcome something with.

With the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine nearing an end, think of yourself as one of these young college students who is about to fight for potentially the biggest moment in their life. Never give up on that fight, no matter the difficult interview question or the other candidates interviewing in the process or the resume you submitted. Be your best self and be able to sell it. To the 2018 Combine Prospects, the best of luck to achieving your NFL dream.

 

 

As Senior Associate, Megan Meisse works across Prodigy Sports’ executive search division, handling various clients across the sports and entertainment industries. Aside from her executive search role at Prodigy, Meisse also handles digital initiatives and content creation for Prodigy Sports.

Contact: megan@prodigysports.net

 

 

The Offer Stage: A Lesson in Planning

By: Megan Meisse, Prodigy Sports

With many NFL teams making staffing changes this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts were another team looking for the person who can lead their team to success for the upcoming 2018 season. Now that the hype of Super Bowl LII has settled, there has been more buzz about the New England Patriots, outside of their tough loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It has been several days since Patriots Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniels, made the decision to stay in New England, passing on the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching position. One thing the Patriots did win within these last few weeks is the guarantee of McDaniels staying on their coaching staff.

After having fired their former coach, Chuck Pagano, the Colts were looking at many successors for his position from multiple teams including the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and of course, the New England Patriots. All signs pointed to McDaniels to be the lead candidate – he was offered the opportunity and agreed in principle to accept the role.

In a short amount of time, McDaniels changed his mind and decided not to accept the Indianapolis Colts’ head-coaching job and remain the Offensive Coordinator of the Patriots. Without much explanation from McDaniels on his reasoning, his decision blindsided many, including Colt’s ownership, who had announced the day before that McDaniels was scheduled to be introduced by the Colts as their new head coach.

As recruiters in the sports industry, we speak to candidates daily, whether it be prospecting, interviewing, or negotiating offers similar to this situation. With a database of 10,000+, candidates from various backgrounds, experience and compensation levels, and business disciplines, express interest in potential job opportunities and go through the initial application and vetting process through to successfully being placed into a new position. Situations like McDaniels frequently happen; a candidate goes through the entire process with us, as well as the hiring organization and unfortunately, back out at the last minute. Although the candidate may think removing their name from consideration is the best move for them at the time, he or she may not realize the short and long-term ramifications behind their decision.

If you are involved in a job search process, be sure to talk to everyone involved during the recruitment and keep the key stakeholders informed every step of the way. Educating yourself as much as possible on an opportunity is critical, in addition to knowing the culture and environment you are walking into. Aside from knowing the basic specs of a role from a job description, recruiters need to know the ins and outs of the organization they are representing, as an extension of that brand.

Often as recruiters, we see candidates back out of opportunities at the last minute, despite our best efforts. Although this happens, there is a right and wrong way to handle these situations. The most important way to properly handle is not to wait. Let the employer know as soon as you realize you no longer want to accept the position. Be tasteful in how you communicate with the hiring manager you were working with. Without saying anything negative about the company, explain the situation professionally, with emotions aside. If the opportunity just did not make sense in the long run, feel free to share that and be transparent so they can understand your reasoning. However, if another opportunity presented itself instead, be cautious not to burn bridges or give too much information away that the other company you are pursuing may be weary of. Finally, always apologize for the inconvenience and show appreciation for their consideration given the time, energy, and money invested into the process.

Aside from the candidate turning down an offer for a new job in an appropriate way, as a current employer of this person, you are just as important. It should not take your employee to come to you at the very last minute when they are telling you of their departure and have another opportunity lined up. If you value your star employees and do not want them to leave, then treat them like your star employees. Give them reason to stay within your company and help them grow to their full potential. Yes, at certain times, everyone may move on in life to something new or a growth opportunity but give them a reason to want to stay while they are currently employed working there.

Create an inviting corporate culture with open discussions to voice concerns or share current ideas. If employees get the chance to contribute to conversations, they generally feel more of a willingness to participate, collaborate and have more discussions that can help the company to grow. Value the opinions of your staff, even if they are not the same views as your own. Provide opportunities for your employees to grow and take on new challenges, keeping them engaged. Celebrate the win by encouraging one another to be the best versions of themselves and motivate those who need help. Create an environment that embraces unique and different ideas, because without them it will be difficult to retain notable talent. Build a culture with different personalities but with the same values. It is critical to establish a successful corporate environment in your organization, whether you are the CEO or an intern.

The Indianapolis Colts have since hired their new head coach, Frank Reich, who has agreed to a five-year deal. Reich was the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles over the past two seasons and after a tremendous Super Bowl win, he is returning to his roots with Indianapolis, having started in coaching with the Colts back in 2008. Confident in their decision, the Colts put McDaniels behind and look forward to seeing what Reich will bring to the team. Similar, should this happen to a company by their top candidate, know there are other great additions to your team out there. As for candidates, understand that although it may be the best decision in your mind at the time, realize there are other people who are affected by your decision and handle it in the best way as to not jeopardize your brand.