Tanyn Walters is the Manager of Operations and Entertainment for the Austin Spurs (Spurs Sports & Entertainment). At her job, you can catch her doing anything from working on financial documents to hosting Hype Squad auditions. It is evident from her vast list of career experiences that Walters is a hard worker. This isn’t surprising considering she started as an intern in the sports business when she was quite young. Walters understands that her responsibility to the Austin Spurs is not just putting on a good show, but it’s making sure that everything runs according to plan – even when it doesn’t. When the plan doesn’t go accordingly, all Walters has to do is look at a family having a wonderful time at the game or the excited kids in the players’ autograph line to remember that what she’s doing has a purpose. Below we talked to Walters about her favourite tools, walking down the catwalk for a banner reveal, and being the kid that picks flowers in the outfield. Enjoy!
Please note: The interview with Tanyn Walters was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as Manager of Operations & Entertainment with the Austin Spurs (of the Spurs Sports & Entertainment). Tell us about your day-to-day in this position.
In my role as Manager of Operations & Entertainment, I oversee the day to day business operations of the team and also oversee all of our in-game entertainment and our entertainment teams. The business operations side includes overseeing and managing things like our budget, procurement, merchandise program, sponsorship activation, team housing, and arena logistics. The entertainment side includes overseeing all of our in-game entertainment, entertainment teams, and fan engagement within the arena. My day-to-day varies greatly because one day I could spend all day working on financial documents and the next I could be hosting Hype Squad auditions. The varied day-to-day is one of the things that I love most about my role.
Tell us about the distinction between “operations” and “entertainment.”
In operations, the focus is more on the business side of things. On the other hand, entertainment focuses on our game entertainment (theme nights, half-time performances, etc.), entertainment teams (Hype Squad, mascot, in-arena host, etc.), and fan engagement.
What does the offseason look like for you compared to training camp, preseason, season and playoffs? Tell us about the offseason for you.
The offseason for me is spent primarily wrapping things up from the season prior and then planning for the upcoming season. We put a strong focus on not just strategically planning, but also creating road maps of how we’re going to execute those strategic plans so that we don’t lose sight of those plans when we get mid-season.
It never really seems like there’s an offseason though because it feels like you blink and the home opener is less than a month away.
Training camp is a whirlwind because it means that you really have to ensure that your plans are being executed and that you’re ready for the home opener. After that, the season and playoffs all kind of run together because we stay so busy from one game to the next.
Tell us about being the Administrative Assistant to the Senior Director of Franchise Business Operations and the San Antonio Stars General Manager/Head Coach and being with Spurs Sports & Entertainment for 6+ years.
I didn’t start with the Austin Spurs, specifically, until September 2017. But, I’ve been working within Spurs Sports & Entertainment for more than 6 years.
My role as Administrative Assistant allowed me to see more of the team operations side of sports than I had in my previous roles within the sports industry. My day to day included coordinating team travel, team housing, player contracts, financial reports, and providing general administrative support for both the San Antonio Stars (WNBA) and the San Antonio Rampage (AHL).
That role was a great stepping stone to where I am now because it allowed me a front seat point of view of how both the business and team operations sides are run and how critical it is for both sides to work well together.
After a little over a year in the Administrative Assistant role, I was fortunate to be promoted to Franchise Business Operations Coordinator which allowed me an even broader view of the franchises and helped prepare me even more for the role that I’m in today.
How did the Business Administration program at the University of Texas at San Antonio prepare you for work in the sport industry?
I got my Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. I feel like my degree really prepped me for the sports world because it gave me valuable tools that are applicable to what I’m working on in my day-to-day.
“I’m eternally grateful for all the classes that I took including finance, analytics, writing, business ethics, etc. because I see them put into play every day within my role with the Austin Spurs.”
The sport event management side of the industry gets stereotyped for attracting detail-oriented individuals. Talk about this stereotype and if you’d characterize yourself in this way.
I definitely classify myself as detail-oriented. I think that it’s imperative within the event management side of the industry to be detail-oriented because when you’re planning events you must plan for so many different possible scenarios. It’s not just putting on a good show, it’s making sure that logistically everything runs smoothly and that there are contingency plans in place in the event that something doesn’t go according to the original plan.
When was the point you realized that you were meant to work in sport? Take us through that realization.
There really wasn’t a realization moment for me, I honestly just kind of fell into it. I didn’t play a ton of sports as a kid.
“My mother lovingly tells everyone about how I was the kid in the soccer program that would be in the outfield picking flowers instead of kicking the ball when it was my turn. I did love watching sports though.”
When I was growing up, my grandfather watched every Spurs game on TV and went to every local hockey game. My siblings and I would fight about who got to go to the hockey game that night with him. After attending hockey games for years, my brother told me and my twin sister that the team was looking for summer interns and suggested that we apply. We did and were fortunate to get hired on. Two weeks after we started, both of us were offered full-time positions with the team. That was 10 years ago, and I’ve been blessed to be working in sports ever since.
What would you say are your top three favourite operations and entertainment programs that you’ve managed with the Austin Spurs.
1 Our Games
The top place has to go to our games. There’s never a game that I don’t get to see a family having a wonderful time, and it gives me such a feeling of accomplishment that we’re providing families with opportunities to create lasting memories. Every kid that passes through the autograph line at the end of the night to get a signature from our of our players is just another reminder of why I work in sports in the first place.
2 Our Championship Celebration
Helping coordinate our Championship Celebration would definitely rank in second place. I was the person on the catwalk cueing the championship banner reveal, and that moment when we dropped the black curtain to reveal the banner was by far one of my favourite moments I’ve had working in sports. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity getting to help manage a championship event.
3 Theme Jersey Auctions
Our theme jersey auctions are one of my favourite programs to manage because they all benefit such great causes. We partner up with local non-profits and create an entire theme night specifically around their cause, and the team wears themed jerseys that we auction off online with the proceeds of the auction going back to the non-profit.
Do you recommend any tools, apps, resources, etc. to help others work more productively and efficiently?
1 Remember the Milk
I highly recommend a check-list app called Remember the Milk. I’ve always been a paper and pen checklist kind of person, but a co-worker recommended Remember the Milk and it’s been a great resource for not only creating to-do lists and reminders for myself but also for other people on my team.
I believe that LinkedIn can be a valuable resource because it’s such an easy way to connect with other people in the industry. There have been several times in the past that I’ve found that reaching out to another team and asking how they achieved a specific goal or worked through a particular problem was much more efficient than spending valuable time trying to come up with an answer on my own.
3 Google Docs
Google Docs is another of my favourites. I frequently take notes at games and the capability of being able to seamlessly transfer from my phone to my laptop has saved me a ton of time that would’ve otherwise been spent compiling notes.
Tanyn Walters has a lot on her plate as the Manager of Operations and Entertainment at the Austin Spurs (Spurs Sports & Entertainment). She’s the one who sees that day to day business and in-game entertainment is a slam dunk for businesses and audiences. Working in the sports business is a whirlwind for Tanyn Walters. She is responsible for even the most minute details in everyday life at the Austin Spurs. All of which makes her “eternally grateful” for the finance, analytics, writing, and business ethics classes she took for her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. This detail-oriented leader finds fulfillment in her job too. Because of her position, she can help families create long last memories, help nonprofits, and support everyone else at the Austin Spurs to thrive in their roles. Regardless if she’s the type of person to pick flowers during a game, Tanyn Walters is scoring 3-pointers behind the scenes.