How I Became a New York Ranger and What I Learned My First Season
It was September, 2016, AKA my favorite time of year: football season. I was the Jacksonville Jaguars Reporter and On-Air Host for an afternoon drive radio show in Jacksonville, Florida. I had just begun my second season covering the team and I was so excited to feel comfortable in my role there. Not only was I confident in the relationships I had with players, coaches, PR staff, other media members, security guards, and coworkers, I truly loved everyone I worked with. They were family to me. Then, I received a message on Twitter.
Remember when your college professor preached the message that “every connection you make can lead you somewhere great?” Well, a friend I made while working in Tampa messaged me on a Wednesday afternoon saying that a mutual connection on LinkedIn had reached out to her asking about me. He worked in New York. I gave her my email address and so began my journey to New York City.
The “guy from New York” is the Digital Director for the New York Rangers. He was doing a nationwide search for a role he created to be the Team Digital Video Reporter/Content Producer for the New York Rangers. He emailed me and we set up a time to talk. The “guy from New York” is now my boss.
The interview process was short. We had a few Skype calls, I sent in a video audition, and then something within me freaked out. I loved my life in Jacksonville. How could I leave something I loved so much for something so unknown? When the “guy from New York” offered me the position, I was hesitant. I said no to New York City.
It was 11:30 on a Friday night when I got the email that changed everything (sounds dramatic, I know). The Senior Vice President of Public Relations for the Rangers, who oversees the digital team, decided this position was something they really needed. They began the search and the interview process and found me. He sent me a note saying that he felt this was a great opportunity for me and I should take the weekend to really think about it. Well, that did it for me. How could I say no to New York City because I was “scared?”
I moved to Manhattan 2 weeks later (maybe even one and a half) and started my job with the Rangers 3 days before the season began. I had three days to learn players’ and coaches’ names and faces, the subway system, and figure out my way around Madison Square Garden. Talk about a whirlwind.
Being one of the only females around any professional team 24/7 can be pretty intimidating. Not with this group. I was blown away by how welcoming and accommodating this team was right from the beginning. I’ve always had pride in forming personal relationships and interacting with athletes as human beings first, athletes second. Because these guys are so easy to get along with, it’s been fun for me to get them to open up and show fans who they are off the ice.
In seven short months, I worked 79 of 82 regular season games, all 12 playoff games, and traveled to 28 cities, spanning across the U.S. and Canada. After working for the team for less than a month, I interviewed The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Little did I know that was just the beginning of amazing people I would get to interview—Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey, Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay, Actor Milo Ventimiglia, Actor Justin Hartley, Former Ranger Martin St. Louis, Actor Ansel Elgort, and Pro Bowl DE Justin Tuck, not to mention our very own current Ranger greats.
In my first season with the Rangers, I worked really hard to soak up everything I could that was all things Rangers hockey. I spent a lot of time with our video coordinator going over game film and studying tendencies of our players on the ice. I spent as much time as I could getting to know each guy individually and learning about their interests outside of hockey. I came into this position eager to learn, with the desire to be the best I could be. I wanted to prove that a football girl from Florida, who grew up a casual hockey fan, could excel at a brand new sport and thrive in a brand new, huge city.
I have always been someone who knew what she wanted to do with her life. Because of that, I hustled hard. It almost didn’t seem fair that this opportunity seemingly "fell into my lap." I struggled with that for a while, knowing how many jobs I have applied for in my short adult life and how other people—many that I know personally-- apply for job after job and never get what they work so hard for, and this “guy from New York” just happened to find me on LinkedIn. But what I realized is that your work speaks for itself. If you work hard, people notice. People you don’t even know are paying attention to what you say, how you say it, what your mutual connections think of you, and how you portray yourself on social media.
The hustle isn’t always the physical grind of applying for jobs. The hustle is how you apply yourself to your current job and what you make of opportunities that stem from that.
Becoming a part of the New York Rangers organization has been the experience of a lifetime. I never could have made this move without the love and support of my incredible parents, my amazing best friends back in Florida, and my former and current supervisors and coworkers who have challenged me to be great and accept me for who I am.
Bring on the 2017-2018 season!