December 2012

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 3)

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TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TV: How did you transition to being the Dockmaster?

OJ: The job was open and I saw it as an opportunity to take another step. I went from being unpaid, to being paid but still part-time/seasonal, to having a full-time position in the face of the general public. I looked forward to having another full-time position that dealt more with the infrastructure of the organization. It was another chance to challenge myself. I’ve never dealt with shipping and receiving from a big scope before so, I knew I was going to have to learn on the fly. It was just another challenge. The day you stop challenging yourself and become complacent is the day you should just hang it up.

TV: For those who are not familiar with what a “Dockmaster” is, can you tell us what the job entails?

OJ: 75% to 80% is basic shipping and receiving, but not like a mom and pop corner shop – it’s a huge organization with huge needs. I’m  talking player personnel and equipment, 53-foot TV trucks for broadcasts, all the freight  for merchandising all of the goods that come in for Corporate Partnerships, print materials for Communications, electronics and tech gear for Information Systems and I touch every part of this business on a daily basis. In-season, I have a staff of about 20 security guys in fixed points throughout the ballpark. I have my own assistant that helps with the shipping and receiving. My personal mission with him is to help him grow and evolve professionally and in his personal life as well. When I started I was about his age – early 20’s – and Willie was a mentor to me so, I’d like to pay that guidance forward to someone else. My mentors definitely helped me find myself.

TV: That’s an interesting point, what advice would you give to young people trying to find themselves professionally? Especially people in their 20’s who are working but, would like to on a path toward upward mobility?

OJ: You really need to take a long hard look at the opportunities that you may or may not have in front of you. It’s a lot of soul searching. Sometimes you have to veer off the road that you want, to do something else but, always know in the back of your mind where you ultimately want to be [in your career]. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes the decision isn’t so easy. Keep your goals in focus and make sure your [career choices] keep in line with that.

Just think about what you and I are doing right now, we’re sitting in an empty ballpark. Sometimes you get these surreal moments [working here]. I’ve hung out with the Yankees in the Visiting Clubhouse or have taken someone’s Mercedes to the airport but, it’s the little things like this that matter most to me – sitting here in a quiet ballpark. It’s almost like my home; I spend the better part of my year here.

TV: We do spend a lot of time here. Tell us about the time commitments of working in this industry for those who may not know.

OJ: It’s intense! It’s unlike most professions – outside of an ER doctor or someone in medicine. You’re looking at 15-20 hour workdays depending on your assignment. Fans see the show when it’s on TV but really have no idea all the work it takes to pull the ballpark experience off.

TV: How do you balance your personal life?

OJ: I see my work life as a parallel to the game of baseball. It’s all a process, a grind and a routine. I arrive here early, around 5 or 5:30AM, get a work out in, get to my desk by 6AM, answer all my e-mails and get ready for the first shipments at 7AM. I try to stay focused and on task so I don’t get stressed.

TV: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

OJ: Hunger and humility. Never be complacent and always look for the next step. At the same time, understand that you’re not above anyone or any task.

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

 

 

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 2)

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TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TV: What’s the biggest challenge facing Sports Management majors today?

OJ: Too many people romanticize the idea of working in sports and think they’ll graduate and work for someone like Scott Boras or work shoulder to shoulder with Alex Rodriguez. That will most likely not happen. If that’s their goal they should keep their eye on the prize, but focus on their specialty whether it’s PR, marketing or finance and go after it. From the outside looking it, this looks like the greatest job on the planet – not to say that it isn’t but, there’s always this misconception that all we do is hang out with athletes. People should really realize the hard work you need to put in to be successful in this industry.

TV: So why did you leave the Home Clubhouse to manage the Executive Office Front Desk?

OJ: I wanted to learn more and expand what I do here [at the organization]. I needed security and to evolve. It’s such a short ceiling down there [in the clubhouse]. For as much as I loved it, I knew I had advance myself as a professional and diversify myself and my resume. I saw the Front Desk opportunity to prove myself to the organization that [I] was willing to wear multiple hats. The Front Desk role is unique and it doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. The person in that job is the first and last impression to everyone who enters our building. It’s very much a help desk; you can get out of towners asking where they can get a good meal all the way to the Fortune 500 Execs coming to meet with Mark Shapiro or Mr. Dolan. It’s sort of like the Clubhouse where no two days are exactly the same. You’re always on your toes.

TV: Since you were the front lines of the office, what’s your perspective on our fans?

OJ: They’re hungry. This city is just hungry for sustained success from our teams. At the same time they’re a little impatient, understandably so because they have been waiting so long. I believe in the guys we have here on the field. Baseball is one of those games where you get five or six pieces to gel and grow together and you build around that. Anything is possible.  I tried to project to the fans that would walk into the Front Office. I wanted people to recognize that good things were happening around here.

TV: That’s going above and beyond your job description. What made you go the extra mile to connect with the fans?

OJ: Is it too corny to say that I felt like it was my duty? Particularly in that role, I don’t think many people in the organization – outside of game day staff – get a chance to interact with fans so intimately as the person that sits at the Front Desk. I felt like I needed to make a good impression. Unfortunately, we’re in a situation where we need to win over as many hearts and minds as possible. Most of the staff in the organization cannot control what goes on on-the-field, but we can control our personal interactions and business relationships. So that was the attitude I took that job with. Look the part, speak the part and project a positive image because there has been negative energy around the club for some years now – from a general public standpoint.

 

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

 

Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 1)

 

photo (28)So, you want to be a Sports Management major? Are you in a quest to snag a job with a sports franchise? Well, TribeVibe chatted with Cleveland Indians Dockmaster Omar Jufko, a graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in Sports Management and Public Relations, to get the inside track on how to break into the highly coveted sports industry. Jufko began working as a Visiting Clubhouse Intern under fellow TribeVibe star and Head Visiting Clubhouse Manager, Willie Jenks. Since 2009, Omar has worked in the Visiting and Home Clubhouses and the Indians Executive Office Front Desk. In 2012, Jufko was promoted to Dockmaster within the Ballpark Operations department. Jufko was kind enough to meet with TribeVibe to discuss his journey through the Indians Organization.

TribeVibe: What made you want to be a Sports Management Major?

Omar Jufko: Growing up I was always really active. I never excelled at any one sport but, I played everything. I played football, baseball, soccer, track, basketball. I was always actively involved in athletics. My Father was a Browns Season Ticket Holder for 30+ years and he was a Season Ticket Holder with [the Indians] from 1989 through 1999. [Sports] were always in my life growing up. There was never one point where I said “I’m going to do this as a career,” but I always knew I was going to be involved in athletics.

In school, I studied Public Relations and Sports Management while at Cleveland State. While I was at Cleveland State, I worked for the basketball team; first, as a student manager – where I was nothing more than a towel boy my freshman year.  I made enough of an impression that by the time my sophomore year rolled around, [Cleveland State] said to me ‘Here’s X amount of dollars, hire a staff and we’ll pay you through work study.’ So I became the head manager. I handled all my staff, all the player course scheduling, connected them with tutors and any additional academic help they needed. Mostly, I handled all of the road trip logistics – all the busing, food, workout plans and itineraries for road trips. I t takes so much effort and man power to move a team from city to city. So, it got my gears going and made me think that this could be a legitimate career choice.

TV: What initially kept you motivated to take on that job while still going to school?

OJ: [Motivation] is something that had been instilled in me by – as cheesy as it sounds – by my parents. When I was 14 or 15, I played soccer the summer before I started High School and Reebok had come out with this cleat called the Sidewinder. I just wanted a pair of Sidewinders really bad. I think these Sidewinders were $100. Back then in 1997, that price was just insane for a pair of cleats. I remember approaching my parents about it and they said, ‘Ok, walk down the street to the supermarket, fill out an application, get a job, and once you get your first paycheck you’ll have enough to buy your own cleats.’ That was always the mindset of my household – if you want something, you work hard, you’ll be able to get it. And that’s probably the greatest lesson I’ve ever gotten from my parents. Humility and work ethic.

[My family], we’re working class. A lot of people in [Cleveland] are. I grew up 15 minutes from [Progressive Field]. I grew up in the concrete jungle and that’s always grounded me. I’ve always had the mindset that no one is going to give me anything. I’m not the world’s smartest man, but I know I can always rely on my work ethic, accountability, and quality of work.

TV: How did you start with the Indians?

OJ: Well, I spent a year and a half after I graduated college in Brazil working for a basketball team and expected that it would be easy for me to land a job in Professional Sports and it didn’t happen that way. So, I started working for the Gap as a merchandiser basically dressing mannequins overnight and doing new floor sets for the store. After a year, I decided I was either going to work in Public Relations or I was going to try one more time to get into sports.

I saw a Visiting Clubhouse Intern posted on Indians.com. It was an unpaid internship under Willie Jenks the current Visiting Clubhouse Manager. I had some exposure to this world because I had a friend in high school that worked in the Indians Clubhouse. So, I already knew the basics of the job – you show up, load the equipment and do whatever is necessary for the team. So I thought ‘What the hell I’ll apply for it.’ Willie had over 300 applicants for the job and only brought in three people for interviews and I was one of the lucky few and got the job, thankfully.  I was the first intern in Cleveland Indians Clubhouse history.

TV: So was it just dumb luck and timing?

OJ: It’s really a little bit of everything. I like to believe that my experiences at Cleveland State and in Brazil played a role in getting me the job. I definitely felt that Willie and I always had a level of comfort with one another, and we still are very close. It’s special to have someone in your professional life that you can sit down with and be very candid with, vent when you need to vent but, also work through the issues of the daily grind.

TV: Do you find that relationships (like yours with Willie) are essential to your longevity with the organization?

OJ: Absolutely and it’s probably the same across all industries, but especially here. You give up so much of your time and your personal life for this industry. [People who work in baseball] give up sort of the prime time of the year. When the sun is out and people are having fun, you’re at work grinding away. It’s a lot of time commitment, a lot of stress, but then again, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t enjoy doing it.

Willie Jenks (left) and Omar Jufko (right).

Willie Jenks (left) and Omar Jufko (right).

TV: Tell us about your experience working in the Visiting Clubhouse.

OJ: I worked with Willie and felt that the season went really well. I learned how to run off 4-5 hours of sleep in a 48 hour window. Just the inner workings of baseball. Many people think that we lay dormant 4-5 months out of the year in the off-season, but business continues 12 months out of the year – we never stop. After the 2009 season had ended, I saw an opening for a Clubhouse Manager for Lake County so, I spoke to Willie about it, got his recommendation, got the Home Clubhouse Manager’s recommendation. Then about a few days later, the Indians came to me and asked me to stay and I said ‘I’m in,’ and I became part of the Home Clubhouse staff for the 2010 season.

TV: What’s the most memorable moment from working in the clubhouse?

OJ: I always joke with people when I get that question. There are probably two answers to that question. One answer I probably will never be able to tell you (Sorry, TribeVibe Fans) because it’s one of those guarded secrets that could probably be exposed in a book one day. To nail down one experience or one memory might be too hard because you find yourself in so many different situations – one day it could be picking up a top player from the airport, another day it could be helping a player purchase a car. I truly think the camaraderie is what stands out to me most. You’re in the eye of the storm, if you will, you see the good, the bad and the ugly. [Guys in the Clubhouse] have more exposure to [the players] than [the players’] families do and you see that human side to professional athletes that a lot of people will never get the chance to see. I know how hard those [players] work and anytime something great happens to [the team] they deserve it. Just the Cleveland kid in me wants the team to do well. The friend and Indians personnel side of me wants them to do well because I truly think they deserve it.

-Erin Parker, TribeVibe Contributor

National baseball writers weigh in on the Indians’ trade

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The Indians’ three-team, nine-player trade was the biggest news in the baseball world on Tuesday night, as the Tribe acquired young right-handed starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw from the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as outfielder Drew Stubbs from the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald from the Indians in return, and sent young shortstop Didi Gregorious to the Diamonbacks, who also received Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson from the Indians. After news of the trade broke, many prominent national baseball journalists weighed in on the potential impact of the trade. A selection of their tweets and stories are below:

Jon Heyman @JonHeymanCBS

love the #indians part of this deal. bauer and stubbs. great job.

Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick

I’m with @keithlaw: Really liked what #indians did in trade. Thought #reds did well to get Choo.

keithlaw ‏@keithlaw

Love it. “@Buster_ESPN: The Indians are going to get Bauer in the deal with the Diamondbacks.”

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN

The Indians need arms. And they get a good arm in Trevor Bauer, who was the No. 3 overall pick in 2011.

Buster Olney@Buster_ESPN

It really is amazing that the Indians ended up with Trevor Bauer essentially in return for a one-year rental, Shin-Soo Choo.

Chris Rose ‏@ChrisRose

Cleveland fan overload right now. @indians huge trade w @Reds @dbacks and @cavs up late @lakers. Head about to explode!!

Rob Neyer – SBNation

“Each of the three clubs is receiving one linchipin. The Indians: pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. The Reds: star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. The Diamondbacks: shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius.”

“It’s a fascinating deal, because all three of the linchpins are completely different sorts of players…The Indians need arms, and Bauer’s a great start.”

What are your thoughts on the Tribe’s big trade?

– TribeVibe Contributor Max Lom

Tribe Fest to offer fans unprecedented access and personal interaction with Indians players and more

Tribe Fest

The Indians announced a unique new event will take place this winter to get Tribe fans ready for the 2013 season. Progressive Field will host Tribe Fest, presented by KeyBank, on Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20.

Tribe Fest was designed based on the feedback of Tribe fans from previous team events, and will offer fans of all ages unprecedented access to Indians players, coaches, and alumni.

“We want to provide our fans an opportunity to have personal interaction with our players, with the ballpark, our broadcasters, and many members of our front office,” said Indians’ Senior Director of Marketing Sanaa Julien. “Those personal interactions are what create lifelong memories for our fans.”

The event will feature a large contingent of current Indians players, including second baseman Jason Kipnis, catcher Carlos Santana, infielder Mike Aviles, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, and pitchers Vinnie Pestano, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Cody Allen.

In addition to meeting the players, taking photos and getting autographs, fans will have the opportunity to take part in a range of interactive activities.

“We’ll open locations that are typically closed off on game days,” said Julien. “That includes the batting cages, the clubhouse, press interview room, and we’ll have at least a dozen players plus alumni and our broadcast teams.”

Tribe Fest will take place from Noon to 6:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday, with most activities taking place in the indoor service levels of Progressive Field. Kids 12 and under can attend the event for free and regular admission is $10.

All tickets will be delivered via mail and fans are encouraged to buy tickets early as there is a limited supply available. All attendees must print and fill out a waiver to enter the ballpark, and Gate A will serve as the entrance for the event.

CLICK HERE  for more information on Tribe Fest.

– TribeVibe contributor Max Lom

Indians offer special ballpark experience for Stand Up To Cancer auction winner

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As part of the current Stand Up To Cancer initiative, Major League Baseball and all 30 organizations have put more than 70 experiences and items up for auction on MLB.com to generate additional funds for cancer research.

The Indians have offered a special game-day experience as part of the program. The auction will conclude at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, which is the final day of the Winter Meetings. The winning bidder will get to take batting practice — thrown by a Major League BP pitcher — at Progressive Field and will get to watch the team’s BP session from the home dugout.

The winner will also have the chance to meet manager Terry Francona, watch the game from the press box and chat with radio play-by-play man Tom Hamilton. The package also features complimentary lunch or dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Company and four passes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

CLICK HERE  to bid on the experience, and help support MLB in its Stand Up to Cancer campaign.

For more information on the campaign, visit StandUp2Cancer.org.

Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian shared his own personal story with with cancer on Indians.com. Read More

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