Chicago native Mark Iralson has always been a fan of NHL hockey. “My first purchase as an adult was one of the old seats from Chicago Stadium”, says Iralson, now in his fifth season with the Nashville Predators. “When I received my first check from working with the Chicago Wolves hockey team, I decided this was the first thing I wanted.”
Mark decided a long time ago that he wanted to work in sports, fortunately for him, he has chosen a career path that has enabled him to stay close to his favorite sport. While earning a Bachelor’s degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, Iralson took it upon himself to learn about the presentation of athletic events and games and how the fans react throughout these events.
“I went to the assistant athletic director, John Butler, and I told him I would like to see what this is all about, I want to get involved. He said, OK, we’ll see what we can do and I’ll get back to you.” Mark was not about to stop there.
“The next day I came in again and said, how are you doing, I was here yesterday, do you have anything today, I want to do this, I want to learn. It was that day he gave me something to do. It was a simple task that he gave me just to get me out of his hair, but I did it and I asked if I could come back tomorrow and he said OK. The next thing you know I was working in the athletic department and I was his right-hand man.”
Butler, now the General Manager of the Peoria Rivermen hockey team, still tells the story about the guy who came back the next day. “He gave me my first shot and I am honored because every time I go back there, he always tells people that I was the kid who came back the next day after he told me ‘we’ll see’.
While still in college, Iralson worked one season as an intern for Peoria when a memo from the league office surfaced announcing the expansion of a new team to the Chicago area. Shortly there after, he was hired by the Chicago Wolves who were at the time, an expansi...
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