“When I was 10, my grandfather told me, ‘When you get up in the morning, if you don’t want to go to work, you should find another job.’ It didn’t make a lot of sense when I was 10, but it does now.” Jack Carnefix will remember these words for the rest of his life.
Currently the Director of Communications for the East Coast Hockey League, Carnefix began to hone in on his career choice while attending college at Oklahoma State University. Originally setting out to be a photographer, he soon found his aspirations lay in a different area. The one thing on his mind was the opportunity to graduate and become a photographer. However, the desire to be a photographer was something that lasted only about one year.
During his freshman year he had an opportunity to write a feature sports story that was ultimately chosen to run in the campus newspaper. Shortly thereafter he took an interest in the news editorial side and ran with it. Throughout college Jack experienced several different sides of the media business, first as a sports reporter and then as the sports editor. During the final semester at OSU, he ultimately decided his best option was to begin his career as a sports writer.
Jack stresses, “In order to find a job and become successful, you have to keep an open mind, especially in the sports industry. Keeping my options open gave me a chance to start my career in a different direction than I thought.”
Jack did not see himself working in hockey. His history at OSU and first occupations in Pro Sports prior to his position with the ECHL were primarily in baseball. “I never envisioned myself working in hockey, my background was baseball. That is what I did for 10 years at Oklahoma State, first in sports information then working just with the baseball team. Then I went to work for a professional baseball team in Sioux City, Iowa, and then on to Boise, Idaho. Hockey was something that the company I worked for was going to get into. They were going to build an arena and have a hockey team. I went into it like I did with a lot of other things. You have to be open minded. I wasn’t sure what hockey was going to be, then I started working it and I thought, this is something I never considered, but I really enjoy it.”
The first opportunity to Work In Sports came when Jack got a call from OSU’s Acting Athletic Director asking if he was interested in working in the Sports Information office. “I had helped him out in the past, but never really considered working in that setting. I became a graduate assistant for a year, and that led to having my final year of school paid for. Upon graduation, I became an Assistant Sports Information Director.”
Jack is now in his third year as the Director of Communications for the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), Carnefix has a full plate of responsibilities. “We handle all of the league press releases and report any milestones that teams or players may be approaching. Each week we do what is called Coast Lines where we feature a team or standout performances, and on a daily basis we publish All Along the Coast. That publication is a preview of the day’s games throughout the ECHL. We’re also responsible for any publications, including the media guide and the schedule book, as well as overseeing the web site and its content.”
There is a great deal of work and many long days involved with such a position. Jack admits. “I am not alone in the industry admitting we do the job because we love what we are doing. For those of us that do it, it is because we enjoy it. There is a tremendous level of dedication which equates to a high level of satisfaction on a daily basis.”
That is what brings him back to his grandfather’s advice. “I get up and I am excited to go to work. I think about what my job is: it allows me to take something that I have an interest in and make a living doing it. Your job has to be something you enjoy.”
The world of sports, however, is not for everyone, and Carnefix says an internship can not only help you identify what you want to do, it can help you decide what you may not want to do. “Internships are great. Anyone that has ever done an internship with me, I have always told them, ‘come and spend three months with me. At the end of those three months, you’ll either know this is what you still want to do, or you may decide it is not what you want to do’. I think that is just as valuable.”
There are certain things during an internship that might trigger your decision one way or the other. “There will be times when the arena is empty and you are still there faxing or still there finishing stuff up and you are the last one to leave. Times like this will tell you that it may not be what you are looking for.”
When you are getting ready to “Work in Sports”, Jack adds that you should keep every option open. “Some people say, I am going to work in baseball or I am going to work in basketball or football, but I think you always need to leave your options open because you never know, there might be something you have never done that, once you do it, you’ll find out you really enjoy it.”