by Gerri Marroquin

Sports dominate the South. It’s a way of life, and there’s no escaping it. Growing up, you play every sport imaginable, and it becomes a part of you. The dream of possibly working for a professional sports organization begins to form. For a few this dream becomes a reality, and for University of West Georgia alum Jeremy Sheffield, it has.

Jeremy SheffieldSheffield ’12 recently accepted the operations manager for Spurs Sports and Entertainment position with AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs.

“I’m looking forward to learning from a top five organization in the field of sports,” Sheffield said. “I can take my experience to AT&T Center and make a difference. This is a whole new adventure for me, and I’m excited to continue doing what I love.”

As the operations manager, Sheffield will be responsible of all the set-ups and breakdowns of large events taking place at AT&T Center, such as NBA and WNBA games, hockey games, concerts, rodeos and circuses. This, he’s no stranger to.

After graduating from the University of West Georgia in 2012, Sheffield landed a full time position at the UWG Coliseum as the event coordinator. During his time at the Coliseum, his duties included supervising undergraduate students who were responsible for event and game set-ups and breakdowns. He also ensured that clients, on and off campus, and their events were in compliance with university and Coliseum policies.

“Working at the Coliseum definitely gave me the necessary experience to move onto a higher level,” he said. “It gave me the essential tools to keep expanding my work, and it has qualified me for this amazing opportunity.”

The Coliseum played a big role in Sheffield’s AT&T Center application process. The Coliseum and its staff is part of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), a professional venue manager organization. As a member of IAVM, Sheffield receives new job postings from the organization, which is where he was notified about the AT&T Center position.

Sheffield began his UWG career in 2008 as a freshman majoring in business management. During his four years as an undergraduate, he worked for University Recreation (URec) as an event supervisor.

He has always been into sports and has always enjoyed putting on events for others. However, Sheffield never really thought about working in sports as a career until he figured out how and where he could transition his event experience into athletics.

“When I started school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, maybe manage a business, but then I started working in the sports industry and that’s when I realized that through the work experience and UWG I had found my niche,” he said.

And that he has. Now that he has made a career out of event management, Sheffield now knows his ultimate career goal: general manager of a large professional sports venue.

As his new journey officially began on Monday, September 19, Sheffield took the time to reflect on his UWG experience.

“The entire UWG family will be what I’ll miss the most,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to meet so many people the past eight years and to watch all the sports teams and the Wolves evolve in the university athletic world.”

UWG has also given Sheffield the chance to create relationships with people who he now considers mentors. As a student, he credits Josh Stewart, his first boss at URec, for giving him his first opportunity to work in event management.

In his professional life at the Coliseum, Sheffield praises Trent Ross, director of the Coliseum, for playing a huge role in the last four years.

“After I graduated, he gave me my first opportunity professionally to get some real work experience to get started and build my resume,” he said.

Trent was the first person Sheffield turned to for advice when he began his AT&T application process. Ross reassured Sheffield that this was the best opportunity he could have at the moment, and that even if the application process ended quickly, he would still benefit from it because he’ll receive quality interview experience with a professional sports organization.

“The best advice that Trent has ever given me was to never stop learning, no matter if the experience was good or bad, to always learn from it,” he said.

Sheffield’s own piece of advice to those who want to pursue a career with a sports organization is to focus on that a specific field, and if you cannot find a paying job doing what you want to do, then take the time to volunteer within your career field.

“Volunteering will do a few things for you,” he said. “It will put your name in a hat so if you’re doing a great job and they’re looking to hire, you’ll have an upper hand. It will also give you a taste of what you’ll be doing in that career, and it will make you realize if it’s something you really want to do.”

Posted on October 3, 2016