Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Eric Sebastian

Eric Sebastian, Manager of Media Relations

Denver Nuggets


The Denver Nuggets needed a point guard.

So they set their sights on Andre Miller, the talented star who was First Team All-America for Utah and performed well during his first four seasons in the NBA. The Nuggets made an offer. The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to match it. Andre Miller was coming to Denver.

And Eric Sebastian was just getting busy.

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a big player signing? When an athlete holds up a brand new jersey and announces “I’m happy to be here” before the lights, cameras and scribbling pens of a city’s media -- have you ever stopped to think about all the things that have to occur to make that moment just right?

That’s where Sebastian comes in. Part of his Manager of Media Relations job for the Denver Nuggets is making sure media events go smoothly. Sebastian was willing to explain exactly what he did when the Denver Nuggets landed Miller:

“We were informed by the Clippers on Thursday that they weren't going to match our offer for Andre Miller. So Thursday afternoon I typed up a press release so I would have it ready to go on Friday,” Sebastian says. “Friday morning, I sent out an email to the media announcing our introductory press conference at 2 p.m. I followed the email up with phone calls to make sure everyone received it. I also let our arena staff know that we were having a press conference so they could set up our press room with our backdrop, podium, microphone and chairs.

Later in the morning, I had Kiki Vandeweghe, our General Manager, sign off on the press release. I also talked to him about what I needed from him at the press conference - basically just to say a few words about Andre, introduce him and hold up his new jersey.

Andre arrived at the arena and signed his contract. I quickly briefed him on what to expect from the press conference. When everyone was ready, I took him and Kiki into the press room and started the press conference, which lasted about 15 minutes. We handed out the press release as the press conference started. Following the formal press conference, Andre and Kiki were available to the media for one-on-ones. Once the one-on-ones were over, I had Andre do a couple of radio interviews and then we went into the locker room for a brief photo shoot with Andre and two main local newspapers. I came back to the office and sent out the press release. We sent it to the media, our staff here and all the other teams in the league.”

We may see a 10-second snippet on the evening news or a photo in the morning newspaper. Behind that photo op is Eric Sebastian working very hard. How can you get a similar job? Start small, aim high.

“I worked in the sports information office at SMU my senior year in '94. Following graduation, I did an internship with the World Cup in Dallas and interned with the Dallas Cowboys during training camp. My gig with the Cowboys was "training camp intern" so my internship officially ended at the conclusion of camp. While I was looking for something else, they let me come in whenever I wanted to help out around the office. I also helped them out at a few games (radio stats, postgame quotes, etc) before I hooked up with the Nuggets. Following that first year, I was hired on full time. Here we are nine years later.”

Now he’s arranging press conferences for NBA stars. Along with that particular duty, Sebastian says, “my day-to-day activities vary greatly. I help the media director handle all the media requests for interviews for our players, coaches and front office. We travel with the team. I write game notes and update statistics for every game so the media can be informed of trends, records, etc. In the offseason I work on updating the media guide.”

A fascinating job for a kid who grew up in Columbus, Ohio attending Buckeye football and basketball games. “I played basketball, baseball and golf in high school,” Sebastian says. “I wanted to somehow stay in sports even if I wasn't playing.”

He reached his goal through paying dues, hard work, determination -- and rising above the other job competitors.

“Obviously there are a number of people who want to work in sports, so you really have to pay your dues. But you also have to stand out from the pack. I worked three different internships before I got to the Nuggets. At each stop, I showed the staff that I was knowledgeable and that I had a passion to do the job. I established good references that helped when I was trying to hook up with the Nuggets. I was willing to do whatever I was asked to do, not matter how menial it seemed. Working in sports is extremely rewarding, but it is also a lot of hard work. Too many people come in wanting all the glamour but don't want to put in the work. The sports industry is a relatively small world and making connections definitely helps.”

Listen to Sebastian. No job is too menial. And you may have to work for little income to start.

“If you're already out of college, I would try working with one of the local teams, even if it means you have to volunteer. There are game-night positions that teams have. Getting a foot in the door is the biggest key. Even if the department you volunteer for isn't what you ultimately want to get in to, do it. We've placed several people that worked for us in different departments.”

Sebastian says one of the biggest keys to breaking in is flexibility.

“I wasn't looking to move to Denver. I would have gone anywhere to work for a pro sports team - which is one thing you have to be flexible about if you want to break in to pro sports since there are so few teams.”

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