September 10, 2007
Ryan Madayag, Fan Development Manager, Seattle Seahawks
Sports buff Ryan Madayag grew up watching Mariners and Seahawks games at the Kingdome. As a teen, he played running back for the Inglemoor High School Vikings, where he broke the school's rushing record. In 2003, the University of Washington communications graduate scored even bigger, landing an internship in the Seattle Seahawks' Fan Development Department, which manages the live entertainment at the team's home games. He's now the team's fan development manager, responsible for booking performers, producing pregame and halftime shows and planning community events.
Q: What kind of work did you do before?
A: I actually worked in television production for about two years. I helped write scripts and produce some shows, for a pilot of a reality-TV show and for "Northwest Afternoon." That taught me how to produce and write scripts, and that experience helps me produce halftime shows now.
Q: How did you make the leap from media to sports?
A: I was taking a certificate course at the University of Washington in sports management, and I was recruited from our class to interview for the Seahawks. In 2003, I started off as an intern. I did that for four months until they switched me to full time. I started off as a fan development coordinator and then I was promoted to a manager after two years.
Q: So what exactly does the job entail?
A: I work on halftime concepts and show ideas. Today we were [brainstorming on a] chalkboard, throwing out ideas for halftime shows for the holidays. We're looking to do a halftime parade, so who would we have, what would the costumes be.
During the season, I have a two-week game-day checklist for every game. My checklist includes updating game scripts -- our stadium announcer, all his reads. I also help with the arrival times and the rehearsal times of the performers. I make sure everyone has the right credentials. I coordinate who meets the performers and what green rooms they'll be escorted to. There's also confirming the audio crew is ready at rehearsal times and start times.
Booking takes at least a good three months. When the NFL schedule comes in April, we start booking the talent. I connect with local and national artists or their managers. I do a lot of research on tour schedules, concert performances. I read Billboard magazine. Playoffs are where we get a lot of national acts. If they're touring through town, we try to pursue them. We did have Carrie Underwood at our national championship game two years ago. That was a big deal.
Q: What's your routine on game days?
A: On game day, I manage a five-person entertainment crew. It's definitely the busiest day of the week. It usually starts five hours before kickoff, with rehearsals. [For an evening game] at five o'clock, two hours before kickoff, we're just wrapping up rehearsals. We do the halftime rehearsal first, and then we do the national anthem and color guard rehearsal. We also have a 43-person drumline, so I make sure they have their schedule for the game. And I make sure the mascot has his schedule and knows where to go during the game.
About one hour before kickoff we do a lot of the presentations on the field, and the performances. At the last game [August 25], we had over 300 performers here. Just making sure that they get here on time and they know where to perform, it takes a lot of coordination, a lot of lists and spreadsheets.
Q: What hours do you work during the season?
A: You work six days a week during the season, I'd say between 50 and 60 hours a week. If the game's on Sunday, I take Saturdays off. And during the off-season, it's five days a week, more like 40 to 50 hours a week. I go to bed early and I get a lot of sleep. You need a lot of energy for this job.
Q: How does your job change once the season's over?
A: I kind of switch hats in the off-season. I manage a lot of the youth football programs. One of the main things I do is called the Gatorade Junior Training Camps. We did over 10 camps this year. We go to different high schools and bring two-hour football clinics.
We also had the Blue Tour this June and July, where we went to Eastern Washington and took two Seahawks players with us to do free football camps.
More education tips for aspiring Ryans:
"The college courses that really helped me were public speaking courses. Being able to effectively communicate instructions to large groups of people during rehearsal is crucial because you only have a limited time to do it. Also, media relations classes really help you gain a good understanding of media and producing. News and sports reporting classes teach you how to interact with sports professionals and celebrities. And even those English courses help, just learning how to write well. Because all the performers that come in, I write their bios in the game-day program."
Q: How much do you get to interact with the players?
A: A lot of the players have given me national anthem suggestions: "Why don't we have him sing? Why don't we have her sing?" A lot of them want to sing, too, but they have to play in the game. Craig Terrill, one of our defensive linemen, did sing the national anthem last year when he was injured.
Most of the interaction with players is during the off-season, when we do the youth football camps. They're there for two hours, teaching, coaching, and then they sign autographs.
Q: How competitive is it to get a job like yours?
A: It's really competitive. We had an intern and it was his last day today and there were just hundreds of applications to get in here.
Q: What advice can you give aspiring sports event producers?
A: Stay active in the music and sports community. Read the paper every day, especially the sports and entertainment sections. Go to games, go to concerts, festivals. I coached a youth football team right after college. That was a nice way to get into sports. It's not important to have played in sports before working in sports. But having a strong passion for sports really motivates me to succeed in my career. I'm currently in graduate school [at night] for sports administration at Seattle University. We get a lot of speakers who come talk to us, so that's a great way to network, too.
I also encourage people to volunteer. That's a great way to get experience with a big community event. And internships are huge. I had seven internships in college that were huge in opening doors for me. Don't be afraid to make that hard phone call to get an informational interview. It was tough to get those internships. It took a lot of persistence.
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