From BOSS to UMass to launching a career in sports in New York
Greetings BOSS community! My name is Matt Wiener and I was the salutatorian of the first graduating class of this school back in 2013. In short, BOSS set the foundation for me to begin a successful and rewarding career in the Sports and Entertainment industry. That’s it. That’s my piece. If you want the main idea, it’s right here. However, the little details are vital.
Everything always involves a bit of luck. I first heard about the Business of Sports School as part of a New York 1 Morning News story sometime in late 2008 or early 2009. Had I been watching something else or started eating breakfast late that one morning I may not have even known about the school. This snippet changed the trajectory of my life. At the time I was an 8th grade student at MS 67 in Little Neck - Douglaston. It is a small town in the north-eastern corner of Queens on the border of Nassau. For the first 14 years of my life, it was all I knew.
In any case, I watched the morning news story about a new school that would utilize sports to teach high school students. Viola! My interest was piqued. I attended the high school recruitment fair where I met Dr. Solomon, at the time he was just Mr. Solomon, and Ms. Choi. I was hooked. I applied as soon as I could and by lottery was selected to be one of the 108 initial students of the school. This was my first experience in a career/academic fair environment, and it would not be my last.
At BOSS I flourished; I was out of my comfort zone and experiencing something so vastly different than what I was used to. And that is as important a lesson as I ever learned in the classroom. That is not to say the classroom lessons were not important. Entrepreneurship, Virtual Enterprises, Sports Journalism and so many more were courses that would not have been available to me had I attended another high school. They taught me concepts and skills that helped me succeed in their collegiate counterparts. I was able to take math, history, and English lessons and apply it to something I was interested in with sports.
I believe that to be successful you have to push boundaries; you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Here I was a 14-year-old kid, who knew nothing but his little corner of Queens, commuting to the heart of Hell’s Kitchen every day. I went from a place where everyone knew my name to a place where I had to make a name for myself. I excelled academically and athletically as I was a varsity athlete and an honor roll student. I started my own sports blog in my sophomore year which was featured on an MLBTradeRumors post in 2011. Over time, everyone got to know who I was. I led tours of our facility, I attended conferences, career fairs, speaker series events and I was able to network with people and organizations I otherwise would not have interacted with. From my point of view experience is the best teacher. The experience of doing all of these things; commuting, interacting with a diverse cast of characters, attending professional events, trying to start my own business at 16, succeeding academically and athletically, working 2 jobs, and learning to balance all of that with a social life was the the biggest lesson I learned.
I moved on to major in Sports Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the number 1 ranked Sport Management program in the country. Go U! BOSS had put a strong emphasis on being college ready which led to me being able to confidently make my decision. I had toured schools all over the country on my own, with friends, or as part of BOSS extracurricular trips. I felt I was more informed on the college decision process than my peers at other high schools.
At UMass, I broadened my ken of the sports industry through various courses within my major. History of Baseball, Sports Finance, and Sports Entrepreneurship were among my favorite parts of the curriculum. There were numerous times where I was able to complete tasks at the collegiate level by looking back at the assignments I did at BOSS.
Moving to UMass was a new and uncomfortable situation I had to grow comfortable with. It was another change, but one that was made easier because of my time learning to adjust to new environments that I got at BOSS. My time in high school exposed me to so many new and different people. Successfully going across the city for high school made the bigger change of moving a state away for college seem more manageable. During the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college I always thought if I could make the change I did for high school, why couldn’t I also make the change for college? It’s not exactly apples to apples, but it helped.
I graduated from UMass in May of 2017 and I have been working in sports ever since. Right off the bat, my first job out of school was for a small independent minor league baseball team in Nashua, New Hampshire. While Nashua is the second largest city of New Hampshire, it only has a population around 85,000. To put that in perspective more people live in Harlem than Nashua. I couldn’t even point to it on a map though I knew of it from being a secondary setting on The Office. For the third time in 4 years I was in a new place. I was once again in an unfamiliar situation in which I had to adapt.
I had met the key contributors of the organization at a career fair at Fenway Park in 2016. Career fairs and conferences have become second nature after having the opportunity of attending dozens over the previous years through both BOSS and UMass. To connect this to the very beginning and come full circle, my introduction to the BOSS leadership was at a fair, in case you skipped that paragraph. It was only fitting that my first job in the sports industry would come as a result of attending a similar styled event.
I knew I had to continue looking to grow. I continued to interview with various sports organizations, teams, agencies, and regional networks. I heard “no” more than I heard “yes”. Sometimes it’s not about the result, but how you react to the news. Turn a negative to a positive and roll with it. Rocky famously said, “it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.... That's how winning is done!” You need a winning mindset, but also a humble one. You need to understand that even in a winning season, you’ll have a few losing streaks. The 1998 Yankees for example, won a then record 114 games and the World Series. But along the way they still lost 48 games in the regular season. To be considered a successful hitter in baseball you only need to successfully reach base 35% of the time. Nobody is perfect.
Learning how to turn a negative into a positive is how I was able to get my second job in sports. I did a group interview for a position with a team in early 2017. As part of the group interview I was able to network with the other candidates. I did not get the job I initially interviewed for. However, the interview paid dividends down the line. One of the other candidates took a liking to me and we kept in touch. He eventually reached out to me in late Spring of 2017 when his department needed some extra staff in the middle of the 2017 baseball season. I joined the New York Yankees Premium Services team in July of 2017 because of this friendship. I was able to turn the “no” I got from the other organization into a “yes” from the Yankees with the power of networking. Turning that negative into a positive.
The Premium Service team is ripe with networking opportunities. I Interacted with premium guests and senior members of the Yankees organization. I moved up internally to manage the Will Call desk in the executive entrance. I became the gatekeeper to Yankee Stadium for the top guests of the facility. I handled tickets for Ownership, Corporate Partners, Community Relations, Player Families and so many others. Forthe last 3 baseball seasons I was the first face some of the most important people entering the building would see. Look at the pictures throughout this blog post, it’s a pretty good face to see, if I do say so myself. This opened the next door in my path. Utilizing my connections, I was able to join the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl Sales team in October 2017. I sold group and premium packages for the only NCAA College Football Bowl game in New York City. Just how I was part of the first class of BOSS, I was part of the first group of dedicated sales representatives for the Pinstripe Bowl.
Simultaneously to working for the Yankees I have worked for Madison Square Garden’s Guest Relations and Disabled Services Departments. It is as rewarding an experience someone can get. I assist guests with information and address their feedback. I also work with disabled guests to set up accommodations they may need to enjoy events at Madison Square Garden owned facilities nationwide.
All told, the Business of Sports School played a big role in preparing me for my career in Sports and Entertainment. Had I not learned the importance of networking or learning to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations, my life and career would look totally different. I benefited from getting experiences unique to BOSS at an early age. I will always be grateful for the head start I got by attending BOSS.