Want to know more about the Communications Manager for the Orlando Magic? We thought so. Happy Monday! We have the lovely Melanie Curtsinger featured as our Female Sports Professional today so brighten your day. In addition to her present role, she has been in the sports industry for 12 years ranging from roles with the University of Kentucky and the Philadelphia 76ers! Find out how her planning ahead scored her entrance into her dream job path.
Please give us a little background on how you got to your current role: I am the communications manager for the Orlando Magic, so that means I do everything from setting up media credentials for home games to writing press releases, setting up interviews/appearances for players and coaches, producing the game-day program and even traveling with the team as the PR rep. I completed a year-long internship at the University of Kentucky athletic media relations department after I graduated, did another 13-month internship in my current department with the Magic after that and worked for the Philadelphia 76ers as a public relations coordinator before joining the Magic again full-time in January 2006.
How did you decide you wanted to get into the sports industry? I grew up in Kentucky, where basketball is in your blood. I started watching as a young child and have never looked back. From the time I was five years old as the only girl on my tee-ball team to growing up playing just about every sport you can name, sports have always played an integral role in my life, thus making it an easy decision to pursue this industry as my career.
What was the first step you took to get into the sports industry? When I went to college at the University of Kentucky, I knew I wanted to be involved in their women’s basketball team, so I started writing letters in high school and set up some meetings with one of the UK women’s basketball assistant coaches. When I got to campus I met with the coach and two months later I was hired on as a student manager. That is how I first experienced the field of media relations, because we had a media relations rep that traveled with us to every game and attended our practices, etc. I saw what she did and knew immediately that is what I wanted to do for a living! Little did I know that what started as me handing out towels and rebounding in practice as a student manager would lead to the career that I have today.
Was there a time or situation that made you second-guess your path? Thankfully, never! I have known I wanted to work in sports since I was a teenager, and I actually look forward to coming to work every day. I am blessed to be able to call one of my greatest hobbies in life my job!
Please let us know whom your mentors were/are on your journey. My first mentor in my current field was Susan Lax, the Associate Director of Sports Media Relations at the University of Kentucky. She really took me under her wing when I was attending UK and showed me the ins and outs of the field. My current supervisor at the Magic, Trish Wingerson, has also been a tremendous asset and role model to me; she’s always pushing me to get out of my comfort zone to grow, which we all need to do in our careers.
What tips or advice would you give to a female wanting to enter the sports industry? Network and get experience! Even getting an internship today is a competitive process that people work for years to get, so volunteering for sports teams and organizations and meeting as many people as possible will help get your name out there and will build your resume. My motto always was: As hard as you are working, there is always someone out there working harder!
Do you think there is a negative ring that automatically lies around females within the sports industry since it’s a male dominated industry? I would like to think that we are past that. I am seeing so many females pop up on PR staffs around the NBA, and quite a few teams now have females are their PR Directors. Right now on the communications staff at the Magic, three out of the five full-time positions are females!
What would you say to the men who don’t see women as being on the same level when it comes to the sports industry? I actually don’t see that as being a big problem in the industry today, or at least I have been fortunate to not experience that. If you are knowledgeable and prove yourself, I believe you are seen as being on the same level as any man. I probably know more useless sports knowledge than almost any man I know and I can take on anyone in HORSE – that will build your credibility right there!
Have you had a personal experience where someone doubted you and you proved to him or her that they should support you? I once had a boss that was extremely negative and only pointed out the things I did wrong. I have moved on from that position, but I believe in hindsight it only made me stronger and hungrier to prove to anyone that I am capable of doing this job and succeeding.
What is your biggest accomplishment to-date in terms of your experience in the sports world? I would say just the fact that I came from a small town in the middle of Central Kentucky, not having any connections of any sort and working my way from the ground up to the position I have today – I am very proud of that. I have had nothing handed to me in my career and have had to work tooth and nail for every internship, job, promotion, etc… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If there were one thing you could change about the sports industry, what would it be? The sports industry is very tough to get into, and I wish more people had the opportunity to work in collegiate and professional sports. The opportunities are definitely limited, but if you have perseverance and dedication, anything is possible.
What is your favorite sports moment? This is an easy one – winning the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals with the Magic and advancing to the NBA Finals. Standing on our court after beating the Cavaliers in the East Finals right behind our team and seeing everyone’s hard work paying off was just such a thrill. And then our owners flew the whole staff out to Los Angeles for Game 2 of the Finals, which was without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.
What is your favorite sport quote? It doesn’t really involve sports, but it is from one of the most legendary coaches of all-time, John Wooden. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. “ Even though it technically might not be a sports quote, that pretty much sums up how I want to live my life – I feel like you have to have integrity in this field if you want to garner people’s trust.
What are your favorite sport websites?
Do you have a favorite player/team? I love all the guys on our team equally of course, but outside of the Magic, I follow the Orioles in MLB (left fielder Luke Scott is my favorite player), the Miami Dolphins in the NFL and I still bleed blue for my alma mater, the University of Kentucky!
Any advice for female fans or female sports professionals? The best piece of advice I ever received was when I was an intern here at the Magic. My supervisor told me that he had never seen anyone not succeed in sports if they had a “never give up” mentality. At the time I was thinking of just settling for another job that wasn’t in the sports communications field, but that really fired me up and made me realize that I wasn’t going to settle until I reached my dream. Reaching that dream might very well might mean doing extra internships and having to move around, but if being in the sports industry is what you want for your career, don’t give up until you make it happen!
I also tell everyone that I supervise now that even though all of us in the sports field are huge competitors, NEVER try to compete with one of your coworkers. That might work well for the players on the hardwood, but in the front office, don’t focus on trying to be better than someone else – just try to become the best worker that you can be, and your hard work will shine through.
Check out our previous Female Sports Professional interviews as well:
Alana Nguyen: Managing editor for Yardbarker, a FOX Sports Interactive company
Susan Lulgjuraj: Staff writer at the Press of Atlantic City
Lauren Shehadi: CBSSports.com/CBS College Sports Network Anchor and Reporter
Alana Glass: Founder & Owner of Iwanttobeanowner.com
Claire Wright: Events Manager with Central Florida Sports Commission
Mahogany Ratcliffe: Co-creator & co-host of Bad Girls of Sports
Jennifer Taglione: Founder and owner of Stiletto Sports
Jennifer Rodriguez: Co-creator & co-host of Bad Girls of Sports
Justine Brown: Production-Assistant with the NFL Network
Jessica Quiroli: Baseball blogger and covers high school sports for Ultimate Athlete Magazine
Melissa Miller: Assistant Brand Manager for the Orlando Magic
Amber Anderson: Grassroots Marketing Coordinator for the Orlando Magic
Kathryn Stuart: Course Director, Sports Management and Operations - Masters Program at FullSail University
Are you a female interested in sharing your Professional Sports experience or know a female who would be good to feature? Email us and let us know!