Thursday, January 31, 2008

Everybody's the Goalie: An Interview with Shannon R.

The Siena College men’s basketball team was the center of attention at the Times Union Center as they beat Manhattan 69-65 on Thursday night, but on this Friday morning it was Shannon R. who took center stage. Shannon is the Director of Community Relations for the Albany River Rats who are part of Capital District Sports Inc. CDS Inc. also partially runs and operates the Albany Conquest, an Arena Football team. I sat down to talk to Shannon about herself in an empty Times Union Center. We talked in an empty office with glass walls on the second floor of the familiar arena.--John Urbanski

Where did you work before coming to the River Rats?
Actually, I was an intern here my last semester of college. The last game of the hockey season, we always have a block party outside, and I was assigned to work the speed pitch machine for the Diamond Dogs, the baseball team. The GM was here at that time and liked what how I was with the fans. He hired me on the spot to work their promotions on the field that summer.

When did you begin working with the River Rats?
The Diamond Dogs folded at the end of the summer, but the River Rats found out and they picked me up. Kind of like a player.

What organizations in the community do you plan events with?
We do a lot with youth hockey organizations where our players go to different youth hockey practices and teach the kids different skills they’ve learned; it helps the kids. The teams we visit then come out to our practices and our games.

Sounds great. Are there any other organizations you team up with in the community?
We do a lot; we have a reading program called “Reading with Rowdy,” where our platform is reading to promote literacy. March 2 is “Reading with Rowdy Day,” where all the kids who participated in the program come out to a game, we have custom made jerseys for that day and after the game we have a jersey auction, so all the jerseys the players are wearing are auctioned off and all the money goes straight to the Ronald McDonald House.

We did it last year and raised twenty to thirty thousand dollars.

If you had to compare your job to any hockey position, what would you compare it to?
I’d probably compare it to a center, because I handle all the community events, so the purpose in us going out to the community is to assist in all that we can, but also to let people know this is what we do. We want people to come to our games; we want to score by having them come to our games.

Who are you trying to score on?
Trying to score on? Everybody.

So everybody is the goalie?
Everybody, yeah everybody’s the goalie.

Do you ever get any crazy fans or people coming into your office or even at the games just kind of doing things you have to take care of?
A funny aspect of my job is, because I go out in the community, I want to wear some type of clothing that says where I’m from, so I have a personalized jersey that has my first name, “Shannon” on the back and I’ll be in the stands or wherever and people will come up and talk to you like they’re your best friend, it’s great though because that’s another way I can get to know the fans.

Sometimes you meet some pretty interesting people, you learn their life story. But that’s part of the gig.

Which name do you prefer: Times Union Center, Pepsi Arena, or the Knickerbocker Arena?
It’s not really which I prefer, but more of what I’m used to. I’d probably just say Pepsi. I know people who still call it the Knick, but people still call it the Pepsi too, so what can you do?

Do you live in Albany?
I’m originally from Rome, New York, but once I graduated from college I stayed in Albany and I live in Albany now. Albany is a great place. One day down the road when I have a family it’s a good place to raise a family. There’s so much to do and the education is great, I’ve enjoyed my time here.

What do you most enjoy about Albany?
I just love that it’s so close to New York City and close to Boston. I’m always traveling there for different Celtics or Mets games.

You must be happy about the Celtics this year.
I’m going to see them next Friday.

Who are they playing?

That’s a pretty good game to see with Kevin Garnett facing his old team.
Should be a good game.

Unfortunately I can’t agree with you with the Mets.
Yankee fan?


It’s all right. I apologize to you, you had a rough September.
We did, we did.