Clay Patton

Clay Patton

Sports Leadership Major, 2013 Graduate

Some of the biggest things I took from Grand Valley was don’t be scared to put yourself out there, you never know what conversation or person could lead you to a career opportunity. I found that person during my GVSU internship at Cascade Hills Country Club. In turn lead me to an interview with the President of the West Michigan Whitecaps. This pushed me to the concessionaire side of sports and the career I am in now.

The sports field has taken me to many different states and I have had the privilege to help run 4 different baseball teams for Professional Sports Catering. Using tools and ideas from GVSU I started out as a Concessions Manager during the Gwinnett Braves 2015 season, within a year I was promoted to Director of Food and Beverage where I was running all food and beverage related areas for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. I have now been promoted again to Assistant Director of Food and Beverage with the Dayton Dragons, a single A team that currently profits $5,000,000 dollars per season in sales.

My advice for graduates and new college students would be these 3 things:

  1. Expectations: Be realistic when it comes to the job you want coming out of school, getting your foot in the door in sports is hard. Thinking you’re going to be running the show and all your ideas are going to be taken seriously right out of the gate doesn’t happen often. Trust needs to be created with you and the higher level management and this doesn’t happen over-night. Work hard, do what is asked of you to the best of your ability and you won’t go unnoticed.
  2. Comfort level: There is a statement I tell all my new managers every season “ You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable” the sports season is a marathon not a sprint (Rome wasn’t built in a day). The hours are long and the work seems to be never ending sometimes but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Finishing a season is an accomplishment not many people can say they have completed.
  3. Enjoyment: If you don’t enjoy your work why do it at all? Don’t get into sports because you enjoy watching sports (you don’t get to watch the games working in F&B trust me). Enjoy the people, the atmosphere and enjoy when you look out your office window you see a view that most people never get to see all but 2 or 3 times a summer.

Do everything you can during these 4 years to meet people, pick the minds of your professors they have a sea of knowledge and experience. Their goal is to see you all excel in your lives and careers.

Best of luck to you all and GO LAKERS!


Clay Patton

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Page last modified January 23, 2017