This is the first in a series of articles the Reporter will look at the career paths Shelter Island High School graduates have chosen since leaving the Island.
Theresa Power, a 2005 graduate of Shelter Island School, was born and raised on the Island. Her mother was a school teacher and her roots go back to the South Ferry Clark family.
But Ms. Power’s passion has always been sports — particularly golf, which she began playing with her grandfather at the age of 5. She took golf lessons at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club and Goat Hill and throughout childhood added several other sports to her repertoire.
“I’ve played basketball, tennis and everything else since,” said Ms. Power. “Basketball we went undefeated my freshman year. The next year I moved up to varsity and had a great season.”
Since leaving the Island, Ms. Power has managed to turn her passion for sports into a career. Today she is director of group sales for the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, who are presently on a Stanley Cup run through the playoffs. She’s also worked for the New York Jets and the New Jersey Nets.
“I like to refer to it as glorified event planning,” added Ms. Power. “We come up with theme nights, guys night out, school fundraisers. We had the Shelter Island School and Greenport School sports marketing day at the end of March.”
In February 2015, Ms. Power helped create “Hockey & Heels,” a Valentine themed event with the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, their former home featuring soap stars from ABC’s General Hospital who designed and autographed hockey helmets, which were then auctioned off.
“I love an opportunity to expand the female fan base,” Ms. Power explained.
While many young athletes dream of “going pro,” Ms. Power’s experience illustrates one of the many routes that can be pursued when considering a career in professional sports.
She attended Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, beginning as a PGA golf management major, but after her first year, switched to sports management with a business minor.
During her last semester in 2009, Ms. Power was a manager of the university’s baseball and softball programs. The job was an internship that Ms. Power and her classmates designed themselves after taking a marketing class.
She landed her first job in October 2009 with the Jets while MetLife Stadium was being constructed in New Jersey to replace the old Meadowlands Stadium.
“I was hired as inside sales, which involves churning out hundreds of phone calls a day and introducing a personal seat license,” Ms. Power said. “You pay a fee to buy season tickets. It’s a new model for a lot of stadiums. It was such a new concept for the area, the Jets realized they needed a much bigger staff than they had.”
MetLife Stadium opened in 2010 and Ms. Power finished her position with the Jets in January 2011. By February, she was working with the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) just as the team was relocating to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
New Yorkers take their professional sports teams — and their moves — very seriously. Ms. Power admits that when dealing with fans on the phone, she often found they weren’t shy about sharing their opinions.
“With both moves — the Nets moved states — sometimes it’s fun to have that conversation, because you learn how truly passionate they are,” she said. “In my position now I can say, ‘Come out and give it a try.’ For a lot of people, it’s the fear of the unknown.”
That’s likely an issue for some New York Islander fans who are less than thrilled about commuting to Brooklyn to see their beloved team. The Islanders moved from Nassau Coliseum to the Barclays Center this past fall, and when asked if it’s been a hard sell for Long Island fans, Ms. Power said, “As with any move — and the Jets didn’t move, they just got a new stadium — you lose ticket holders and some people are disgruntled. It’s always an opportunity to bring in new fans and gain new ticket holders, which all teams have done.”
With graduation day approaching for Shelter Island School’s class of 2016, Ms. Power offered some advice for students who may be eager for a career in sports.
“People said to me, ‘Sports management? What will you do with that?’ Most people don’t see what goes into making a single game go off,” Ms. Power noted. “You’ve got game day staff, marketing, financing, all that you don’t see. It’s a prime example of people thinking they’re going pro, then they get an injury or reality sets in. Some people put all their eggs in one basket.”
“When you’re in college, get as much intern experience as you can,” she added “That, in any field, will give you an idea if it’s your passion.”