August 6, 2015
By Mike Killeen
A lot of college students get serious about networking for job as a junior.
Sam Hollis began as an eighth-grader — although he didn't know it at the time.
Hollis, a 2014 graduate of Saint John's University, began working as a summer part-time employee for the Wisconsin Woodchucks baseball team as an eighth-grader in 2007. His job?
"I actually started off as a griller, and I did that throughout my part-time career," Hollis said. "Here and there, I would fill in as a concession worker and beer vendor as well."
Hollis is a native of Wausau, Wisconsin, where the Woodchucks play their home games. The Woodchucks were charter members of the Northwoods League in 1994, although they were known then as the Wausau Woodchucks (they became the Wisconsin Woodchucks in 1999). The Woodchucks won league titles in 2001 and 2003.
"Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I was always interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of an organization," Hollis said. "With the Woodchucks being in my home town, I thought that it would be a great place to see what the sports industry is all about."
It wasn't until he got to SJU, where he majored in management with a focus on business administration, that he thought he might be able to work for the Woodchucks.
"I really didn't think of (working for the Woodchucks) until the winter of my senior year when I began job hunting," Hollis said. "I really wanted to come back home and try to save some money, and it turned out the Woodchucks were actually looking for a full-time staff member at the time. I was lucky enough to get the position."
Hollis serves as the director of ticket sales and operations for the Woodchucks.
"The 'operations' portion of my title really means I do it all," Hollis said. "The first that you learn in the sports industry, especially for a smaller market team, is that you will be doing everything.
"It is great because no two days are alike. One day I could be doing 95 percent ticket sales, and the next I could be doing concession and ball park duties," Hollis added. "So, in the short of it, the 'operations' portion is a coverall for everything that goes on in the stadium - tickets, concessions, group sales, making kettle corn, you name it, we do it all."
Hollis said there are both positives and negatives to the job.
"Obviously, the hours are quite long and we work hard, but the positives are that we get to have a lot of fun and the work is pretty unpredictable, which keeps you on your toes," he said. "There are not many jobs that are unique as working in sports.
"I would tell anyone that working in sports can be a lot of hard work, but if you have a passion for what you do it can be very rewarding. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If someone is interested (in working in the sports field), I would tell them to give it a shot."