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Sport Management graduate's connections, internships provide valuable opportunities

On any given Washington Husky game day, John Terry is at the stadium.

He parks his vehicle in the lot before the fans arrive and leaves hours after the parking lots clear and the fanbase goes home.

“I knew working in sports would be a lot of work – a lot of time on weekends and nights,” Terry said. “Because I oversee a facility, I’m pretty much on call 24/7. If a fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night or a pipe bursts, I’m usually getting woken up in the middle of the night.”

Terry received both his bachelor’s (2012) and master’s (2014) degrees in Sport Management from West Virginia University.

“A lot of what I learned was while getting my masters at WVU,” Terry said. “I was a graduate assistant at the same time and learned many valuable lessons from April Messerly, the WVU Associate AD for Facilities and Operations. To this day, I still communicate with April about things in the facilities and operations world.”

The connections he made during his time at WVU have stuck with him and internships and assistantships during his six years as a Mountaineer got him his job with the Huskies.

“The most important thing is to get as much experience as you can when you’re in school,” Terry said. “There are many opportunities in Morgantown to get involved. I started working in the WVU athletic department my freshman year. It turned into a graduate assistantship which is how I got my masters from WVU, as well. Work hard – someone is always watching.”

As the director of stadium operations and events, Terry oversees all Washington Huskies athletic venues. However, his job description goes far beyond replacing turf or building a pitcher’s mound.

“I try to serve as the point of contact for the football program with any facility or operation related issues they have, but am also the point of contact for the UW Sports Medicine Center which is housed in the basement of our stadium,” Terry said.

“I have a pretty strong presence in our access control system as well as general security-related matters in the athletic village. When I first moved out there, I also served as the boat moorage manager where I was in charge of sailgating on football gameday. Just like cars, we have roughly 150 boats that tailgate on the water adjacent to Husky Stadium as well as many charter boats. About 5,000 people travel to our stadium by boat on game day.”

Although that sounds like a daunting task, Terry has been preparing for days like these his entire life. Born in Atlanta, Terry spent his summers volunteering with Georgia Tech’s baseball and softball programs during regional and super-regional play. In the summer of 2011, Terry was an operations intern with the United States Olympic Committee. Everything he’s been involved in has been crucial to getting this job in Washington, he says.

“I applied to this job as a long shot,” Terry said. “A contact in the industry happened to know my now-boss and made a phone call on my behalf. They reached out to interview me, but I impressed them enough to have Skype interview. The rest is history. The thing to take away from that is it really is all about who you know. Your contacts will get you interviews, but then it’s your job to sell yourself and get the job.”

Although he’s thousands of miles away from Atlanta and Morgantown, Terry found that connections transferred.

“It’s been a great place for me to learn and grow in this field. There really is no normal day in my job which is what I love about it,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my career. Also, I work with Megan Welsch (WVU SM Masters 2012) as well which has been fun.”

Stemming from his education at WVU, Terry immediately assumed the behind-the-scenes responsibility to help Husky fans have the best game day possible.

“I think the most important thing I learned is that no job is ever beneath you,” Terry said. “In sports, it’s always all hands-on deck. That means if I need to help clean up a stadium or change out ventilation fan belts, I get my hands dirty.

“One piece of advice: Don’t ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”

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