Kelsey Smith: Your Ticket into the Sports Industry - Work in Sports Podcast e102

Getting into the sports industry by learning the revenue creation side of the business - that's our topic today with Kelsey Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning Account Executive.

Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

When do you get started? How do you figure out what you want to do?

These are some of the most common questions I get each and every week from fans – what is surprising to most is that they are intertwined.

You figure out what you want in your sports career by getting started doing something.

So ask yourself what is available? Is there an athletic department at your college or university? Likely there is, so get involved – try media relations, communication, sales, sports information, ticket sales, operations, recruiting, fundraising.

What about a minor league baseball team, or basketball team – is there a golf event nearby? Road race?

By getting involved as early and often as you can, you figure out what you like and what you don’t like.

Say you worked in sports information at your college and figured out…nope not for me! That doesn’t mean it was a waste of time, quite the opposite, it means it was time well spent.. because what if you spent your entire college career planning for  ajob in sports information, then got a job and hated it.

Now what? You’re out of school not like you can change course with ease!

The earlier you get started the better suited you are to figure out your logical path. Don’t get crazy about exactly what, where or how --- just get in there and start doing!

I’ve known too many people that waited and waited and waited…and then the moment passed them by.

To further clarify this point – this week I’m bringing on friend of the podcast Kelsey Smith – Kelsey is in her second year as a Master’s student at University of South Florida and already has 10 legitmate experiences on her resume, including the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And you know what… she’s changed career objectives over that time, because by doing the job she learned what she didn’t like which is just as valuable as what she did.

Listen in and learn from this high riser in the sports industry – here’s Kelsey Smith!


Questions for Aspiring MiLB General Manager Kelsey Smith


1: The first thing I notice about you Kelsey, is that you have a clear vision for who you want to be – the very first words on your LinkedIn profile say “Future Minor League Baseball General Manager” – how important has it been for you to have clarity in your goals?

A: When and how did you figure out who you wanted to be?

B: Since you know where you want to end up, has it made your decisions on subjects like  – where to intern, what courses to take – has it made those choices easier?

2: You completed your undergrad at Miami Ohio from 2013-2017 – and right away in 2013 you began interning in the Athletic Department – what was that experience like as a freshman new to college but thrusting yourself into your career.

3: After that you worked for the Hamilton Joes collegiate summer league baseball team in their communication department, then as a sports information director for the Miami of Ohio swimming and diving team, then for Penn FC in media relations – all during your undergrad – you were hella focused.

These are varied roles, how important was it for you to get exposure to many different things in the industry in order to figure out what you really wanted?

4: All this on your resume by the time you finished your undergrad – but instead of joining the workforce, you went for your Master’s – why?

5: You and I have spoken before about Master’s programs and I feel many programs don’t do a good job preparing people for the real world – they don’t provide real experience, or hands on application of the classroom experience – but you’ve staunchly defended the University of South Florida program, why is that program different in your eyes and why did you choose it?

6: OK, so USF helps you get real experience – which is vital… and since you want to work in baseball, it made total sense to be an intern with the New York Yankees this past year at Spring Training – now these roles are highly coveted, why were you selected, and what kind of interview process did they put you through?

7: What was your role with the yankees and did it give you further confirmation of your desire to work in baseball long term?

8: Yankees finish up spring training and you are right onto the next thing – since may you’ve been an account rep with the Tampa Bay Lightning working on selling season tickets, group sales and premium suites – how important is it to work directly with the flow of revenue and understand the entire business operation?

9: You were also a part of the Minor League Baseball FIELD program – can you explain what that is and how you found out about it?

10: Look back on all of these steps so far, so early in your career – what is the biggest thing you have learned, your big takeaway?


I loved the subtle things in Kelsey’s conversation – the stuff between the lines of her stellar resume.

Did you notice when I asked her about how she got the internship with the Yankees she said – well, I had already emailed every general manager in minor league baseball and it turned out the person hiring for this role was someone I had already talked to.

That’s next level effort. She’s clearly not the type to sit and wait for magic to happen, she creates her own luck through her actions.

I’ve mentioned many times on the podcast that I got a little lucky with my first job, and that you can’t rely on luck, you have to be better and more driven than I was. Kelsey is your role model – go attack opportunity, don’t sit and wait.

That’s it for this week – some big interviews coming up in the next few weeks – Joe Legaz Director of Marketing for the LA Clippers, Bryan Hayes Senior Coordinator of Amateur and International Scouting for the New York Mets and Megan Ebeck, Arena marketing Manager for the home of the San jose Sharks – some great content coming you way so subscribe to this here podcast, share it with your friends and your enemies!

Thanks for listening we’ll talk next week.

By Brian Clapp | July 18, 2018
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