Getting in the game

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For many, sports are a passion that never leave the bounds of their TV, or their academic athletic careers. But for some, like Andrew Mills, they turn that passion into their livelihood. 

Mills had always been a sports fanatic, whether he was physically at the games, watching them on TV, or playing on the field himself. But when he graduated high school and went through two years of community college, he was unsure of his next steps. That’s when he found UNT’s sport entertainment management program.

“Little did I know that critical decision would lead me to where I am today and shape the career I want to go into,” said Mills.

Currently a senior set to graduate in the spring, Mills has taken his sport entertainment management classes and turned them into lessons and advice to jump start his career in sports. Now juggling being a full-time student and two internships with professional sports teams, he says that his work-life balance isn’t really stressful at all.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is when you do what you love it's not really a work life balance, it's all just life,” said Mills.

Mills is a merchandising intern for the Allen Americans, a professional ice hockey team currently playing in the ECHL. There he works in the team store doing inventory, setting up the store, and working the register on game days helping fans. While he says merchandising is not what he wants to do in the long run, it helped him get his foot in the door with his first internship in sports. It also showed him the different areas he could work in, what a day-to-day life looks like in certain roles, and the kind of atmosphere he wants to work in.

“The Allen Americans has an amazing culture, and has given me direction in my professional career,” said Mills.

Mills said that Jonny Mydra, president of the Allen Americans, is a big reason for the culture being what it is and is somebody he admires in the sports industry.

Mills is also a game day operations intern at the Texas Legends, a professional basketball team in the NBA G League based in Frisco, TX. He helps get the arena ready prior to game days and assists wherever he is needed during the game.

For Mills, both of these internships are stepping stones for his career in sports. But what really solidified that sports management is the path he wants to pursue was the talent management class he took with Professor Destiny Price.

“It got me fired up and made me realize that this is an industry that I can go the extra mile and excel and succeed at,” said Mills.

He said that Professor Price really hammered home what it takes to get into the sports industry and what it takes to go above and beyond.

“She helped in not only developing me and my mindset as a professional, but learning the industry and how I can succeed in it.”

Mills was also recently encouraged by Professor Bob Heere to enter the NCSAC Sports Analytics Competition. He was given a giant data set of ticket sales and had to analyze it and create a presentation with suggestions based on the results. Competing against schools from across the nation, Mills ended up making it to the semifinals.

In fact, Mills said all of his classes in the sport entertainment management program have not only been fun, but enriching and enlightening as well.

“If you would've asked me before I started what sports entertainment management was I wouldn't have had any idea.”

He wants to thank all of the faculty in the program for shaping his education and guiding him towards success in the industry.

“Everybody in that department gives you every opportunity to exceed and go above and beyond what you can even imagine. They’re all so infectiously passionate about what they do,” said Mills.

After graduation, Mills wants an inside sales job with a professional sports team. Whether it’s the NHL, NFL, or NBA, he says it doesn’t matter as long as he gets to work in the industry he is passionate about and grow into a leadership position in the future.

When asked about the sports entertainment management program as a student studying solely at the Frisco Landing campus, Mills had nothing but positive things to say.

“We have access to so many professional sports teams and sports professionals in DFW. You just can’t get that anywhere else.”