Name: Matt Guercio
Current Job Title: Coordinator of Athletic Operations and Special Events
Company Name: C.W. Post Campus – Long Island University Athletics Department
First sports job: Intern/Game Services Assistant – New York Jets
College education: Dowling College, B.S. Sport Management (2003)
Executive most admired: Kenneth R. Zore, Jr. (New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P., Director of Operations & Fan Experience)
Brand most admired: Nike
Matt Guercio is now entering his fifth year with the C.W. Post Athletics Department. He oversees the athletic game day operations, special events, internship program and various marketing aspects. He also serves as the department’s liaison with the university’s Public Safety, Audio Visual, Catering and Conference Services departments.
Some of his other responsibilities include organizing department alumni functions, as well as the annual Student-Athlete Recognition Dinner. Guercio assists with the oversight of the C.W. Post athletic venues, including the Pratt Recreation Center Gymnasium, Hickox Field, and the C.W. Post Softball Complex.
Guercio also works with many external vendors to coordinate operational logistics for NCAA and conference tournament post-season events. He works in conjunction with the university when hosting for Nassau County Public High School Athletic Association (Section VIII) and New York Catholic High School Athletic Association (NYCHSAA) athletic events.
Originally from Kings Park, N.Y., Guercio earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management from Dowling College in 2003. In the summer and fall of 2002, he was an intern with the New York Jets as a Game Services Assistant.
Prior to arriving at C.W. Post, Guercio was employed as a Paralegal for the Law Offices of Frederick J. Giachetti, P.C., a bank attorney for J.P. Morgan Chase, specializing in real estate law.
A member of Collegiate Athletic Operations Services (CAOS), Guercio and his wife Mary Ellen, reside in Seaford, N.Y. He is currently working on obtaining his master’s in Public Administration from C.W. Post.
What was your first job in the sports industry? How did you land it?
In the fall of 2001, one of my sport management class assignments required me to interview a person or executive that worked in the sports industry. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to interview my high school athletic director for this assignment. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked me what my future plans were. I told him that I was in the process of looking for an internship, which was a major requirement for my degree. He then asked me if I would be interested in an internship with the New York Jets for the summer. I literally jumped out my seat and said, absolutely.
Through a networking contact he had, I applied, interviewed and was eventually accepted for the Jets internship at their former training facility at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) for the upcoming summer. This internship oversaw multiple different responsibilities including operating “Jets Fest”, an interactive theme park for the fan experience, training camp operations, and assisting with player appearances. I was then hired on a part-time basis as a Game Services Assistant for the 2002 season with the team. To this day, it was the best three credits I ever received.
What advice would you give to people in established careers trying to make the transition into sports?
Have a plan and make sure you stick to it. The great Tom Landry once said, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” There are going to be frustrating days and times through this process. It’s inevitable. You can’t change it; you can only find ways to counter it. Stay motivated, be creative and innovative. Build your own personal brand by volunteering, interning, networking and using social media outlets. An executive I spoke to recently said that he wants a track record of people “getting involved.” You have to exceed
expectations and go beyond your job description.
You also need a support system around you. I remember when I made my transition into sports. After working 3½ years in real estate, I wasn’t happy anymore and decided that it was time to get out. I sat down my parents and my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) and said that I didn’t want to work in this field anymore and I wanted to get back into sports. I told them that I needed to make this decision now at 25 rather than 35. I made them understand that getting a position in this field is not going to happen overnight. It would take some time as I would have to start from the ground up as nothing would be handed to me. They understood and it took me two full years to obtain my current position. Without them, I would not be where I am today, especially the people in the same field that had helped me along the way.
We all know that working in sports generally involves long hours. What are the perks that offset this?
The long hours can take their toll, both mentally and physically. For me, working intercollegiate athletics is one of the most rewarding experiences. Meeting, learning and interacting with administrators, coaches, faculty, staff and student-athletes is something, unless you are a part of I cannot describe.
The people you come across and learn about their goals, values, philosophy not just in athletics but in life are amazing.
To me, the student-athlete is unique. It’s not meant for everyone because to handle both athletics and academics is not an easy task. I try to remember every day that what I do is what’s best for the student-athlete and to give them the best experience.
Two words that put everything in perspective: “Thank you.” People do not realize how strong those words mean to us after running an event, whether it’s from a student-athlete, parent, fan, spectator or an official. If those two words are said to us, we know we’ve done our job. Therefore, we can’t be complacent and have to move on to the next event.
The long hours also are offset when you are rewarded for your work. In 2007, I traveled with our softball team to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Akron, OH. In 2008, I attended the NCAA Division II Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA with colleagues from our conference members. Furthermore, in 2009, I traveled with our men’s basketball team to Springfield, MA for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Championship, where I was able to visit and have dinner at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
When hiring, what major traits do you look for in a candidate?
We look for internship candidates that can demonstrate three attributes: professionalism, efficiency and organization. Attention to detail is another strong element. Candidates have to understand that working for C.W. Post Athletic Operations is a sacrifice and a commitment. We never conduct phone interviews. It doesn’t matter if you live five minutes away, or five states away. We want candidates to see the environment they will be in and comfortable with their surroundings.
Come prepared to the interview: professionally dressed, additional copy of your cover letter, resume, a list of three professional references to provide and note taking material, a portfolio and/or any additional information. We want to know as much as we can about this person. We want candidates that ask questions and not are just here to go through the “interview process.”