Inside Working in Sports: Omar Jufko (Part 2)
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