Results tagged ‘ Advice ’

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 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

A Different Kind of Road Trip: Cruising the Information Superhighway with #SocialSuiters on an Adventure.

You never know what you’ll find in the #IndiansSocialSuite from @eightyonegames to #RallyRum to a couple @SocialDudes the attendees of the Suite never cease to amaze us with their passion for starting trends and taking digital media risks. During this past series against the Reds, we had the pleasure of entertaining two of our most interesting attendees to date: Andrew Kenney and Jake Jones of  

Longing for adventure, these two Brooklyn, NY photographers decided to pack up their car, travel the lower 48 states, shoot photos and share their memorable adventure with postcards they create themselves. Andrew and Jake have leveraged Facebook and Instagram to establish a generous online-fan base which has raised nearly $29,000 for their project on the social media fundraising site Kickstarter.

TribeVibe: How did you get started?

Jake Jones @goingnowhereusa : This whole thing started in December when we first met. Andrew and I were both working on fashion photo shoot in New York City. I do digital tech and he [Andrew] works with lighting. We started talking about how this wasn’t what we wanted to be doing and how we both wanted to shoot more travel stuff and work on our own projects. We both talked about doing a road trip and from there the whole project evolved.


TV: How do you balance the project with your family and work lives? Do you travel a bit and return home? What’s your schedule?

Andrew Kenney @goingnowhereusa : We’re traveling for three months straight – non-stop. It gets tough but, we try to call family and friends often. We definitely make time to stay in touch with everyone we know. I’m originally from Maryland and [Andrew’s] from Alabama and staying in contact with people is tough for sure. We’re also very busy while we’re on the road. We don’t have any down time. We’re either sleeping, eating, taking pictures or printing postcards. Even right now, we’re at the game and talking to you but, as soon as we’re finished we have to start researching for the next day. There’s really no time to relax.

JJ: Yeah, we bring our laptops wherever we go. Three months seems like a long time we’ve allotted ourselves but, it’s really not with everything we want to do.

TV: What places have you been to so far?

AK: We started in New York City, obviously, then, we went to: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Upstate New York and [now we’re in] Ohio.


TV: Is Progressive Field your first ballpark visit on this trip?

AK: Actually, it is not. We watched the Connecticut High School State Championship game…

JJ: …unknowingly.

AK: Yeah…unknowingly. We saw a game going on and we had time to kill. We saw these kids playing and we noticed that they were really good. We couldn’t believe it was a normal High School game.

JJ: …they were making really good plays.

AK: We caught the final game too. They threw their gloves in the air and dogpiled on each other it was so cool…exciting.

TV: Are you big baseball fans?

AK & JJ (in unison): YES!

TV: Favorite teams? No pressure by the way…

AK: The Nationals are my favorite team. I grew up an Orioles fan and then, I tried to like the Yankees when I moved to New York…but… I hate the Yankees. But, the Nationals have a few young players that are fun to watch.

JJ: I would say the Braves because that’s around where I grew up. Being from Alabama, we don’t have any professional sports teams. So, I just ended up rooting for whoever was good at the time when I was a kid, around ’93 or so.


TV: Let’s talk a little bit about your digital campaign. You used and social media to raise almost $29,000 for the project. How you get started with the campaign and why do you think it has become so viral?

AK: Well, it wasn’t even our main idea. We started along and just thought: “Hey, let’s make a Kickstarter and see what happens.” We didn’t really think anything would happen. Then we thought about what we could make for people because we didn’t want to just make prints or a book. We wanted something really interactive that would let people follow along with us on our trip. Somehow we got to the postcard idea and from there it just blew up.

JJ: And people still like to receive tangible things that they can hold onto – like a postcard. I think that people miss the nostalgic feel of receiving a postcard in the mail. I also think people are attracted to it because most people have always wanted to take a road trip.

AK: [People we meet along the way] always ask, “When can I join you?” Everytime. That [was] our inspiration for finding a way to have people involved in our trip and experience some part of it. We didn’t just want to do a blog or just do photos on Facebook… that just wasn’t enough for us. Another secret [benefit] of this is that we’re able to get our work, our photographs in 900 people’s homes. As an artist, that’s amazing. People are excited to receive our work. It’s crazy.

TV: Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers or photojournalists?

AK: You have to be super self-motivated. That’s what it really comes down to. Just shoot a ton and do what you really want to do. I know a lot of assistants that are going to be assistants for the rest of their lives because they always say: “Oh, I’m working with this guy and eventually I’ll start shooting [photos].” But, really, if you want to shoot just shoot. It’ll happen from there.

JJ: It’s always a scary thing to do but, you have to try.


TV: How do you keep your work fresh and interesting while on the road?

AK: During our trip we stumble upon a lot of our material. Or we can drive for six hours and not really see anything. Sometimes we have to plan, like our trip to Progressive Field, or when we go to Detroit we plan to go to this factory where they build Corvette engines by hand. We have to keep planning events to punctuate the trip and everything in between is the exploration and the mystery.

There’s also a bit of pressure just from thinking of how many people want our postcards or just how many people are following us on Instagram or Twitter and our website. We’re always conscious that there’s people waiting for us to find cool stuff so, we try to do that. There’s always stress until we find that crazy thing of the day.

TV: What’s the craziest or most memorable thing you’ve seen so far?

AK: The fork factory?

JJ: Yep. The plastic fork factory.

AK: Yeah. We found an abandoned plastic fork factory in Maine.

JJ: It was really weird.

AK: It was a big, huge building. The walls were falling apart.  The building was really half way gone. We crawled around…

JJ: …We did not trespass…

AK:  …Yeah, we don’t do any of that on this trip.

JJ: Oh, and we found an underground river in Hartford, CT. We send a survey to everyone who has signed up on Kickstarter asking them to suggest interesting sites in their area.  So we met this guy who gave a place to stay and invited us to explore this underground river. It’s a 9 mile long river that use to be above ground but, I guess they somehow submerged it as a part of a government project. Now it just runs underneath the city and there’s huge 30’ by 30’ conduits that you can canoe down. Then, about 100 feet in, it just gets pitch black. So we were cruising down in these canoes with torches – the whole shirts on a stick dosed in kerosene deal. It was crazy.

That’s also the greatest part of our adventure. We meet people who share their where they’re from with us; All the completely interesting stuff that we wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Erin Parker – TribeVibe Contributor

-Photos Courtesy of Andrew Kenney & Jake Jones

The Man Behind the Draft: “Tweet Your Tribe” with Brad Grant

Indians Director of Scouting, Brad Grant took some time out of his schedule this past Friday to answer fans’ 2012 First-Year Player Draft questions on our regular Twitter feature “Tweet Your Tribe.” Here are a few frequently asked questions Brad wanted to share here on TribeVibe. 


How do you prepare for the draft?

Brad: “It’s a year process. We’re already starting to prepare for 2013’s draft now. We’ll use the summer to see a lot of High School showcases and go to different colleges to identify the prospects for 2013.”

Throughout your career, who has been the best and most memorable draft pick?

Brad: “I was an assistant in scouting when we drafted CC Sabathia. As Director of Scouting: when we drafted Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis.”

@andrewdarvin asked: “What kind of skills would you like to see in a potential employee?”

Brad: “Passion for baseball, work ethic and an understanding of how to process information.”

What percentage of your resources is used on scouting outside of the United States?

Brad: “We have an entirely separate international scouting department that concentrates only on international players.”

Christopher Plunkett asked: Why do you keep drafting players that only become minor league depth and never make it to the show?

Brad: “You never know where major league players will come from. Both Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano were later round draft picks.”

@Lake_Mistake asked:Any late round prospects you think have big sleeper potential?”

Brad: “We feel that a lot of our picks have major league potential. We have had success in finding major league talent from later round draft picks and we’re hopeful that we have done it again this year.”

@Ryan_ALSD asked: “How much do you incorporate Sabermetrics into your evaluation process and systematical approach?”

Brad: “We incorporate a lot of information into our decisions and Sabermetrics is definitely one of those pieces that is applied.”