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Ryan Ritchey: The Human Definition of Perseverance

Front Office Sports

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This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

By: Chase Kostellic, @kostellic

Ryan Ritchey, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Louisville Bats

If you were to open up a dictionary and look up perseverance, it would be no surprise to see a photo of Ryan Ritchey, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Louisville Bats, Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Ritchey is a recent graduate of Spalding University in Louisville, KY, where he was awarded a B.S. in Communication. Throughout his studies, Ritchey’s steadfast and determined mindset helped place himself in a position that many aspiring sports business professionals dream about. We are proud to have been able to speak with him and share his story.

Before starting college, Ritchey knew that he wanted to work in sports with a focus in baseball. He started putting these plans into action during his senior year of high school by landing a position as a staff writer with FanSided.

“Back in that time, I wanted to be a sports writer. That was something I enjoyed doing. I would only write about baseball, but I felt it was something that would lead me in the right direction.”

In his freshman and sophomore year of college, he continued working at FanSided and became a site editor for their Washington Nationals fan site.

“I covered the Nationals on a daily basis and was in charge of staff writers, getting stories on the site and tracking the analytics. As a team, we also were able to put together a few campaigns to see what worked best and what times of day to share content.”

In conjunction with being a site editor at FanSided, Ritchey knew he wanted to help with the school baseball team and see what he could offer.

“When I watched a game, I noticed patterns. I noticed things that were happening and needed to be fixed. I brought it to the coaching staff and they later decided to bring me on as a student assistant. I got to have my hand in recruiting, keep stats and make note of patterns during games. We learned what we could do to help the team win.”

Although the opportunity to help the team directly was great, Ritchey knew that in order to move forward, he had to a make a more career-minded move.

“The spring hit and an individual I was connected with wanted to start broadcasting games. After he got it approved, I had the opportunity to take part in it, but as a result, had to step away from helping the team. It was better for me in the long run, keeping my career in mind.”

As a busy baseball season came to a close, Ritchey then put his feet forward again and reached out to the individuals in charge at Spalding Athletics to see if he could be granted permission to broadcast basketball games as well.

“Broadcasting seemed to be where I found my niche. I went to the necessary individual and told him we should broadcast basketball games. We got approval from the athletic director and department of communication to put these plans into action. I was the analyst and my partner was the play-by-play guy.”

During this time, Ritchey also pushed himself to take on even more by landing an internship. Little did he know, that extra push would end up leading to where he is now.

“My sophomore year, I started interning with the Louisville Bats. I was a Game Day Media Relations Intern. I was able to start one month before the other interns and stay one month after. That extra time helped me learn more about the business and build connections with the front office.”

At this point, his journey was only still beginning. He made another big step during his junior year to go along with everything he was already taking part in.

“I started working in the Spalding Sports Information Office, covering fall sports, such as soccer and volleyball. That carried over into my senior year, where I also kept traveling with the basketball team and broadcasted all of their games.”

Working hard and keeping his plate full started to show signs of paying off when another opportunity with the Bats presented itself at the beginning of the 2015 season.

“The director of media and public relations emailed me my junior year, offering me to be his assistant and work in the office full-time, plus continue to work games. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Being a full-time student with a full-time job and working on the side with Spalding Athletics, I had a full plate and had to switch to online classes to make more time. It was a busy junior year.”

As Ritchey’s senior year started rolling along, he continued working in the Spalding Sports Information Office and had plans to continue working his position with the Bats as an assistant director of media and public relations, but when March of 2016 hit, things changed drastically for the better.

“We found out the director of media and public relations was leaving. I was still in school at the time, so I didn’t know if I would be considered. At the end of that same day, the people in charge offered me the position and I accepted. It was hectic to fill this role right before the season started and while trying to finish school, but I’ve graduated and things have calmed down since then. I couldn’t be happier.”

As many know, working in Minor League Baseball means that you have a great deal of unique responsibilities that go beyond the basics and result in long hours spent at the ballpark on a daily basis. A day in the life of a 22-year-old Minor League Director of Media and Public Relations on game day goes a little something like this:

9:00 A.M. — 12:00 P.M.:

  • Arrive to the office and put together the current stat packet, consisting of about 20 pages of statistics that are made available for the media and staff.
  • Update headshots for teams coming to town/make sure they fit the video board.
  • Prepare team rosters.
  • Coordinate any plans with the media.

12:00 P.M. — 1:00 P.M.:

  • Jump on the organization’s “lunch train,” where the front office picks a spot to go eat together at.

1:00 P.M. — 4:00 P.M.:

  • Begin daily game notes (game number, patterns, transactions, etc.) to make the current status of the team available.
  • Put together the pitcher page that includes notes on the pitcher, his statistics, levels played, etc. for broadcasters to utilize.
  • Include player profiles into game notes with specific points on what they’ve recently accomplished (ie: hitting streaks, trends, etc.) for broadcasters to utilize.

4:00 P.M. — 6:00 P.M.:

  • Finalize any adjustments to the rosters and bring to the managers/front office.
  • Present stat packet to clubhouse.
  • Bring media to individuals they wish to speak with.
  • Prepare lineup cards.
  • Brief interns on game day expectations.

6:00 P.M. (Game Start) — End of Game:

  • Manage interns (social media, stat packet, story writing).
  • Manage the scoreboard and ensure accuracy.
  • Watch the game and make note of anything worthy of writing about.
  • Provide game updates on Twitter.

End of Game:

  • Help interns put together game story to publish on the team site/social media.
  • Bring media to talk to manager and players.
  • Oversee interviews to ensure no media-related rules are broken.
  • Attain worthy information from team manager that can be shared.
  • Address any concerns and begin preparations for the next day’s work.

For Ritchey, these busy days are all worth it because he’s doing what he loves.

“I’m around the game that I grew up loving. Every single day, I come here to Louisville Slugger Field and enjoy what I’m doing. When you’re working, you want to love what you do and I can confidently say that I do. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Being young and still in his first season as the Director of Media and Public Relations, Ritchey has a lot to learn, but still holds the dream of going to the big leagues.

“I will hopefully be in the big leagues in the future, but I have a lot to learn where I’m at. I’m in a great spot for my age, but my dream is still the same-get to the big leagues. For now, everything and everyone at the Bats is great. There’s still a lot to be done here that can help me learn and become better as a person along the way.”

With everything that Ritchey has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time, he knows that his internship with the Bats was the most important part of his development.

“Internships are very important. That’s how you’re going to get your foot in the door somewhere. They’re the most important thing that you do in college. You can take that curriculum you’re learning and put it into action. Do as many and as much as you can.”

To go along with internships being a great way to apply what you learn, Ritchey also noted that they present a big opportunity to build long-lasting connections.

“Don’t burn any bridges. Internships may not always be exciting, but it’s a chance to build meaningful connections. Those are people you can use as references or even as sources to help open more doors for you. Everyone in sports has multiple connections, which means the ones you build can lead you to others, and those others could be where the job opportunities are.”

Ritchey left us with a final piece of advice for aspiring sports business professionals: ensure you are well rounded.

“No matter what time of year it is, do as much as possible and don’t feel restricted to one thing. You want to build a background in multiple aspects. Marketing, operations, media relations and so on are all related and very important. Have a vast variety of skills that you can pull out of your hat when the time is needed.”

Front Office Sports would like to thank Ryan Ritchey for sharing his story and insight. We wish him the best of luck in meeting all his goals.

Ryan Ritchey is happy to connect with others! You can email him at rritchey@batsbaseball.com, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Kyrie Irving Expected to Sign with Roc Nation

Kyrie Irving is expected to sign with Roc Nation, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Michael McCarthy

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Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving is expected to sign with Roc Nation, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Irving, who was most recently repped by Jeffrey Wechsler of 24/7 Sports Management, joins an NBA client roster at Roc Nation that includes the likes of Kevin Durant, Josh Hart, Justise Winslow, Danny Green and Caris LeVert.

The switch in representation comes on the same day that Irving took the first step toward his prospective free agency this summer.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving is not opting into his $21.3 million contract for the 2019-20 season and will become an unrestricted free agent.

By not opting into his contract, Irving can sign with any NBA team when free agency opens on Sunday, June 30th.

If he signs with a team other than the Celtics, he will be eligible to sign a max deal worth $139 million over four years.

If he were to stay with the Celtics, Irving can sign a five-year deal worth $188 million.

An industry source speculated that Roc Nation could be waiving the fees on Irving’s contract in order to retain his marketing rights.

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Meet the WNBA’s New Boss

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert will become the first commissioner of the WNBA and the first woman to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

Front Office Sports

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

For the first time ever, the WNBA will have a commissioner. Before now, all of the league’s previous leaders like Val Ackerman and Lisa Borders were given the title of president. 

Cathy Engelbert, the current CEO of Deloitte, will take control of the role on July 17th and will report directly to Adam Silver. 

What should you know?

1. By the time she is done at Deloitte, Engelbert will have spent more time at the company (33 years) than the WNBA has been a league (23 years)

2. Engelbert is the first female to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

3. She is the fifth person to lead the league after Val Ackerman (1997-2005), Donna Orender (2005-10), Laurel Richie (2011-15) and Lisa Borders (2016-2018)

4. Engelbert has spent the past four years in charge of Deloitte’s U.S. operation.

Basketball is in her blood…

Although she might be an accountant by trade, Engelbert is no stranger to the game of basketball. 

According to Bob Hille of Sporting News, she played at Lehigh for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and was a team captain as a senior. Her father Kurt also played and was drafted in 1957 by the Pistons.

What are they saying?

“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth. The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” – Adam Silver on the hiring of Engelbert

“I think that’s probably one of the reasons I was selected for this role, to come in and bring a business plan to build the WNBA into a real business and a thriving business, quite frankly.” – Engelbert to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel

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Adam Silver Wants More Gender Diversity

The NBA commissioner states his desire to get more women into the sports industry. The NBA currently has a 31.6 percent ratio of women in team management.

Front Office Sports

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Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

If Adam Silver has his way, 50 percent of the new incoming NBA officials will be women.

That number applies to coaches too, Silver said speaking at the Economic Club of Washington.

How do the leagues stack up?

The following numbers, outside of MLB, come from 2018 reports put together by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. MLB is the first league to have a report done on it this year.

1. NBA – 31.6% of team management are women / 37.2% of team professional admins are women

2. NFL – 22.1% of team senior admins are women / 35% of team professional admins are women

3. MLB – 28.6% of team senior admins are women / 26% of team professional admins are women

4. MLS – 26.5% of team senior admins are women / 31.6% of team professional admins are women

5. WNBA – 48.6% of team VPs and above are women / 58% of team managers to senior directors are women

6. NHL – No report done

Quotes from Silver… 

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing.”

“The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

That’s not all Silver wants to see change…

Silver, who has been adamant about getting rid of the one-and-done rule, provided some clarity as to when that might be achieved.

According to the commissioner, the 2022 NBA Draft will likely be the first one since the 2005 NBA Draft to allow high school players to go straight into the league rather than playing a season in college first.

Citing “active discussions” with the NBPA, Silver noted that they are still “a few years away.”

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