Lots of people want to work in sports. But in order to work in sports, you need to have drive and passion, along with a willingness to go the extra mile. It's not for everyone, and many people can't hack it.
Then again, Reilly Casey '18 is not your ordinary college sophomore.
The recent Saint Ignatius grad has the ambition, attitude, and work ethic to make a career out of sports. Some folks in Dayton are starting to recognize that. The University of Dayton student recently won the John R. Schleppi Sport Management Career Enhancement Fund, given to just three students per year in Dayton's sport management program.
But before we jump too far ahead, let's begin with the start of Casey's journey.
Casey enjoyed a great four years at Saint Ignatius. He played football for four years, spending two years on the varsity squad. Casey and the 2016 Cats reached the State Championship, and during his senior year, the Wildcats got to the Regional Final.
In the winter, Casey served as a manager for the basketball team. Casey always drew high praise from the coaches and the student-athletes as an ever-reliable manager who was ready and willing to help with anything and everything.
And in the classroom, Casey was a great student with a high GPA.
So it should be no surprise that Casey hit the ground running at Dayton. He enjoyed a great first semester at the prominent Catholic university in southeast Ohio. And then in February, Casey landed a gig with the NFL Pro Bowl.
Casey served as a brand ambassador and activations member. As Casey will admit, the work was not glorious. He did several different jobs, and it was unpaid. But it was a great experience, as he received the chance to network with folks from all across the country. He met people from the NFL, ESPN, and the World Wide of Sports in Orlando. It was a gig that helped to expand his horizons and make connections.
Casey continued to gain important experience at Dayton once he returned. In the fall, Casey started interning at Dayton Arena's ticket office.
Casey is not your average intern, either. He's not just getting coffee for his bosses. He’s doing real work and getting great experience. In the fall, he assisted with Dayton football, organizing the football players’ gift ticket check-in, a significant responsibility. And even more importantly, Casey became a leader for volleyball tickets.
Casey spent much of his time in the office aiding season ticket holders, and attended every home volleyball game. He was the main man on gamedays, setting up the lounge area and seats, leading student workers, and problem-solving whenever issues occurred. Casey is the person that others look to when there’s a problem.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” Casey said. “It’s a lot more responsibility that I expected. But it’s been great.”
Casey’s gig has continued through basketball season. He attends every men and women’s home basketball game, assisting student workers when problems happen. He teaches students how to print tickets, use the ticket reader, manage TicketMaster, and several other duties at the front desk. Casey does whatever his boss asks him to do, and he does it with a smile.
This past semester, Casey decided to apply for an award from John R. Schleppi Sport Management Career Enhancement Fund. The fund provides money for students to attend a conference – $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for third place. The award is only eligible for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
On the advice of his professor, Casey applied. As per the rules, he created a presentation on why he wanted to attend the NFL Combine and the outcome. A lot of students want to attend conferences, so in order to win the prize money, you need to show what positive would come out of attending. The reason for going needs to have an impact on other people.
For his presentation, Casey focused on the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NFL Owners Association and the NFL Players Association. The CBA expires after the 2020 season, and offers plenty of intrigue. From Casey’s perspective, as someone who wants to work in sports, perhaps as an agent, he wanted to delve into the relationship between the two groups. Casey plans to pen an academic paper to discover where each side is coming from, along with the idea of a revenue split.
The judges for the fund liked what Casey had to say, and awarded him second place. That’s a rare feat for a sophomore, as his Dayton professors told him.
So, Casey is headed to the NFL Combine in February during the last week of February. His goal is to learn more about the CBA discussions and how each side plans to negotiate. The opportunity to network with folks inside pro football will also be invaluable for Casey.
"As one of my professors told me, there is only so much you can in the classroom,” Casey said. “What you do outside of the classroom is more important. Networking is the biggest part of getting into the sports industry. It’s not only what you know, it's who you know. You won't get where you want to be without networking. The opportunity of going to a conference and meeting so many different people from different areas is amazing. It’s a good starting step for my career.”
His former coaches and teachers at Saint Ignatius could not be more proud of him.
“It doesn't shock me in the least that Reilly won this award,” said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "It was clear that he had a passion for everything he did around here, from playing on the football team to helping out with the basketball team as a manager. He loved to contribute in any way possible. To find out that he won this award, and that it's rare for a sophomore to win it at UD, doesn't surprise me at all. If the folks at Dayton are seeing what we've seen over four years in Reilly, it would have been an easy choice to pick Reilly."
So when you’re watching the NFL Network coverage of the NFL Combine in February, keep an eye out for Casey. You just might spot him on TV. If not this February, then definitely in the future. Casey is going places.