Even though you may have never heard of her, she is one of Minnesota United FC’s most important people.
By Amari Dryden, @Amari_Dryden
Have you ever wondered how all the equipment gets to an away game on time or how a team knows which jerseys to wear or when they need to be on the field? These are just a few of the tasks that Angie Blaker oversees as the Director of Team Operations for Minnesota United.
Blaker, a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, studied Organizational Management and Marketing while in school. It wasn’t until a year after she graduated that she found an interest in working in sports.
While attending a sports internship career fair the Minnesota Twins were hosting, she came across the booth for the then Minnesota Thunder soccer team.
“Being in Minnesota we have all of the major sports teams,” Blaker said. “I grew up watching Minnesota Thunder matches so I was a most interested in what they had to offer and I knew I had to try to get in with them.”After being offered an internship with the Thunder for the spring of that year, she tried to learn everything she could about the business as a whole because she was told there wouldn’t be a full-time job available when she finished. As the season came to a close, she was surprised to get a call about an opportunity with the team.
“I started full-time with the team in the capacity of doing administration work for tickets and the camp program,” Blaker said reflecting on the early days of her time with the Thunder.
In 2009, due to ownership issues, the Thunder folded. Even though a new ownership group took over and changed the soccer club’s name to the Minnesota Stars, Blaker stayed on in an expanded role.
“I started doing more of the team administration, such as travel and day-to-day scheduling while still assisting in the ticket office,” she said.
Through multiple ownership and name changes (most recently to Minnesota United FC), as well as a jump to the MLS, Blaker has seen it all.
“I am one of the very few who have been with the team through all of the name and ownership changes. This will be my 11th season.”At first, Blaker hadn’t thought about working in the sports industry, but now she can’t see herself anywhere else. She loves the variety of work because she never knows what the next day may bring.
“This is some people’s dream job. It comes with fun perks. I experience one-on-ones with athletes and travel with the team. I’ve been with the team when they’ve won a championship and when they’ve lost in a championship.”
Her favorite part of her job is trying to stay one step ahead so everything will go flawlessly.
“I want to do anything and everything possible behind the scenes so it appears that everything is going off without a hitch.”
Some of those specific tasks are making sure boarding passes are printed and baggage is checked. The players don’t even know that’s happening so it makes it easier on them and the coaching staff to focus on their game.
Blaker has done all the preparations that go into game day starting with her time as an intern setting up all the signage, banners, tents and chairs. Her role now is narrowed down to focusing on the home team and making sure the visiting team is taken care of.“I oversee the timeline of the game. I’m the one in standing in the locker room telling the guys they have five minutes until they must get to the field.”
Blaker’s theme of advice for those who wish to work in sporting operations is don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
“There’s a lot of things I should be above doing after being here for 11 years, but I still do it because I know it needs to be done. If I have to go get and set up the lunch for the players or carry a bag for the kit man, I will do it. Be willing to learn and absorb everything, that’s the only way you’ll be successful in the sport because it’s a team sport. Help wherever and whenever needed.”
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