“Going to work is enjoyable for me,” says Damen Zier of the Colorado Avalanche. “That is one aspect I think that early on in my education I decided on. I decided I did not want to work strictly for the money and be unhappy, which I think a lot of people do. This is an industry that is not always rewarding financially, but it is rewarding in a lot of other ways. So it’s a trade off in many respects.”
Zier graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in journalism, and believed that would be his path to the sports industry. “After my sophomore year at Colorado State University, I transferred to CU and earned a degree in journalism. I transferred to CU with the intention of getting in their sports information office.”
The business of sports is very competitive, which means you have to have patience while you are waiting for your opportunity. “I graduated in 1993 and it was five years before I got a full time paid position in the industry. Leading up to that, I did several different things,” he explained.
“Before I graduated, I was hired as a publications intern with the Colorado Rockies, an expansion team of Major League Baseball. After graduation in 1995, I assumed a more permanent role with the Rockies and witnessed the construction process and eventual move into Coors Field.”
Baseball’s work stoppage in 1994 gave Zier some additional time he had not counted on, but time he made very good use of. “The Denver Grizzlies were the newest team in town, and I was consulting with them while baseball was on hold.”
Zier led the production of a team media guide and game magazine in a six-week time frame. He stayed on with the media relations staff during the 1994-95 season culminating in a Turner Cup Championship for the Denver Grizzlies.
“I was actually working in hockey with the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL before the Avalanche rolled into town. That was my road to the NHL.” “I started out with the Avalanche on a part-time basis as a member of the game-night staff.” That part-time position allowed him to experience the team’s 1995-96 Stanley Cup Championship. It was this memorable experience that made all the long hours he had spent working with the team worth it.
Again, Damen talks about patience when looking to get into sports. “You have to be very patient. This is a highly competitive market. There is a big demand for jobs like these because everybody wants to work in sports. Everybody wants to work for the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Red Wings or Colorado Avalanche. These jobs are coveted by many so when you do get your opportunity, you have to be very patient and work hard.”
Opportunities like these need to be earned, and Zier explains that you earn them by making sacrifices. “The main thing I tell everybody is to be ready to work for free. Put in your time in an internship or other capacity, and be willing to do anything and everything that somebody asks you. Like many industries, it’s a ‘who you know’ environment. To build relationships with the right people, you have to be willing to make sacrifices of time and expectations for making money.”
In addition to working for the Colorado Avalanche, Zier offers additional help to people who are looking to ‘Work in Sports’.
“Since I’ve come out of school, I’ve been able to stay close to my university. I speak with college students, try to give them guidance and on certain occasions I have done some speaking at job fairs and things like that. In addition, my responsibilities with my current job entail hiring our intern staff, so I’m very much in touch with students and those looking to break into sports. I have a good idea of what it takes to break into this industry.”
To contact Damen, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org