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I am extremely lucky to be in the position I am in now and have the opportunity to be employed during the entire pandemic.

Andrea Di Nardo

Fan & Membership Services Executive

Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club

× The interview with Andrea Di Nardo was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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Tell us about your role as the Fan & Membership Services Executive of the Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club.

My role as a Fan and Membership Services Executive for the Rock is a unique position.

I am part of the ticketing department and my focus is our Rock City Season Members. It is a very customer service based position but I spend most of my day looking at ways to grow the program.

During COVID-19 off-season, my day is typically reaching out to season members and doing check-ins. This gave me an opportunity to gain a connection with them on more of a personal level than just as their account executive!

We also launched Account Manager during the off season, so this was my time to introduce it to our members and get them looking at their membership for next season.

There was also a lot of research involved in my day to day tasks to see what other professional teams were doing for their fans and what programs they had for season members.

Before COVID my day would still be a lot of reaching out to fans and get their memberships renewed, talk about what next season looks like and see how they enjoyed the previous season.

I would be making calls to sell season members to fans who would have purchased a package with us the previous years and talk about the benefits they would be receiving as a member.

We would have also attended summer events that allowed us to promote the Rock to people who may not know who we are and educate them on the organization and lacrosse.

In season is very similar to what the offseason looks like but I would also be more focused on building relationships with the clients I have.

This means, check in’s, meeting and in-seat visits with our members. As a ticketing department, we also attend many events to advertise our organization and try to sell some tickets!

2Your official title is Fan and Membership Services Executive. Is it considered to be a sales position? Either way, how important is it for you to be naturally extroverted in such a position?

My position is very different from a typical ticket sales job although it is still considered to be a sales position.

We have a team of 3 people who are responsible for selling anything relating to ticketing. My position is unique because I concentrate just on Season Memberships. While I am still selling season memberships, I mainly look at ways to use our current fan base to get referrals.

It is extremely important to be naturally extroverted in this type of position. I started at the Rock in October 2019 as a ticket sales account executive and I was not as extroverted as I am now.

I struggled at the beginning to get out of my bubble but working at the Rock has made me a very extroverted person which I am thankful for!

When working in any ticketing role, being an extrovert is important because you need to be outgoing, personable, and friendly to be able to gain those relationships with your clients.

By creating those relationships with fans, it makes their experience even better which means they will be coming back every season!

3We know you opened up the official team store recently and heard some of things the Rock are doing from Rachel a few months ago. Tell us how you, your department and the Toronto Rock are finding new ways to connect with your fans and other stakeholders in new ways during COVID-19. What have you found works best?

Connecting with fans during COVID-19 was very important to our department.

It started out extremely difficult. Our season was cancelled during an exciting time for the team and ensuring we continued to connect with fans after the announcement of the season being cancelled was especially important.

Simple ways that we stayed connected at the beginning of COVID-19 was making calls and sending emails to our clients that was simply just seeing how they were doing.

We did not bring up tickets, or next season but rather just how they were managing during tough times. This worked well for us because it was a way for us to stay connected and build great relationships with our clients.

As the summer months went by and more information came out about what next season was going to look like, I made sure I was updating our members on more of a monthly basis to ensure they were keeping up to date with all the important information we knew so they felt included as well.

Now that the league has announced an April start to the season, it has been exciting to start planning and get those conversations going with fans. This has been an easy way to connect with our fans now because we have exciting information that people have been anxiously waiting for!

The most important thing I have learned is our fans just want to feel connected as a community and I think our team has done a great way to ensure our fans felt included.

4Personally and professionally, explain your optimism and/or worries about the future of the sport industry as a whole.

I think my personal and professional feelings towards the future of the sport industry is very similar. Like many industries, the lack of employment is worrisome.

I especially feel for the new grads who are excited and anxious to step into the industry but unfortunately due to COVID-19, things have been put on pause.

I am extremely lucky to be in the position I am in now and have the opportunity to be employed during the entire pandemic.

The next year or so is going to be tough for the industry with people looking for employment, although things will get better and it is important for those people who are in those circumstances to realize that!

Sports will operate again in some sort of capacity and the game that we all love, will return.

I am excited to see what the changes will be to accommodate fans in a large setting and ensuring the health and safety is a priority for our Rock community.

5You went to Durham College for Sport Management. What lessons can you recall from the program, whether from your communications, accounting, sociology of sport, etc. classes, which you still apply in your everyday life, professionally and personally. Any particularly helpful for working, preparing during COVID-19?

Taking Sport Management at Durham College is what made me passionate and excited about what was to come in my professional path.

There were so many great professors that taught me lessons that I still use in everyday situations. The one that sticks out the most would have to be in my Fundraising class and my Sport Marketing class.

I have worked in many different sectors in the industry such as amateur, pro, college/uni and non-for-profit sport. The things we learned in both fundraising and marketing classes have prepped me to be successful in all my jobs.

By learning different fundraising skills, I was able to have a mindset to do things in a budget friendly way that saved money for the organization but still made an impact.

With my sport marketing class, it showed me the love I have for marketing and prepared me to be successful in any role I had, marketing or not.

I learned ways to target certain markets and consumers which prepared me for this job in selling season memberships. Sport marketing would have to be the most helpful for working and preparing during COVID-19.

When learning about different markets and people, it allowed me to focus on how to reach out and market to the different fans that we have and the different strategies there were to connect with them.

Andres Larranaga Andres's Final Thoughts

In a difficult year for the sport industry, Andrea Di Nardo, Fan and Membership Services Executive at Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club, shows that there’s still a lot to look forward to. These are unknown times for graduates and interns searching for positions, but the industry is moving forward and coming up with plans for everyone’s safety. As such, I hope Andrea’s words of encouragement motivate students and graduates in the sport industry to not give up and continue looking toward all opportunities available.

Connect With Andrea Di Nardo

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