Sport Administration Alum is Madison Square Garden’s Youngest Manager
“I always knew I wanted a career in hockey,” says 25 year-old Justin Casserly, manager of event presentation for the New York Rangers ice hockey team and the youngest manager in Madison Square Garden’s history.
“Everything you see that goes on during a game, from the time the doors open until the final PA announcement is read, I direct all of that,” Casserly said of his current role. Casserly and his team work out a script of 130-160 elements of programming for every home game, and once the gates of the Garden open he dawns his headset and makes sure the script is executed as smoothly as possible. For this timing is everything. “The biggest thing is the time constraint of the TV timeout,” he stated. “You literally have two minutes so every single TV timeout I have a stopwatch, and I start it as soon as the light goes on. I need to make sure everything I do is fully executed within those two minutes.”
From hockey player to money maker
“In 1993 the Florida Panthers were established, and a couple of years later they were making a run to the Stanley Cup Final. I watched every game with my dad and brother, and as soon as the season was over, my mom signed us up for skating lessons. A week later, we were enrolled into a hockey league and never looked back.”
During his freshman year at Florida State University, he landed an internship with university’s Information Office and decided to pursue a sports management degree. He became president of the school’s club hockey team and helped the team evolve form a mediocre sports club to the most successful and respected club on campus. The hockey team began pulling in $30,000 a year in fundraising, and Casserly was able to acquire contracts for online video streaming, as well as radio streaming. He also gained a Nike sponsorship for the team, and merchandise sales began to rise.
Why Georgia State University?
“There’s a ton of college and professional teams all within a close area, and I just loved Atlanta.”
After months of research, Casserly decided Georgia State University’s M.S. in Sport Administration program was a perfect fit for him.
Casserly wanted to broaden his network and see what other opportunities were available. “As much as I loved college sports, I knew I wanted to work in hockey, NHL. Atlanta was great because I went to high school there, and the Thrashers were there while I was applying.”
In addition, the Sport Administration program’s curriculum, as well as the professors, played a key role in his decision. He recognized names such as Dr. Natasha Brison and Dr. Brenda Pitts through their work at FSU, and he knew Dr. Beth Cianfrone from her time at the University of Florida.
Making it big in the Big Apple
Coaching and recruiting for one of the top youth teams in Florida eventually led to an internship offer with the Rangers. Casserly headed north to spend his last semester of grad school working in New York City. During this period, he applied to new positions every day looking to find anything hockey related. He just so happened to get a call from his old boss with the Rangers saying a management position opened up. Casserly jumped at the opportunity. His hard work as an intern earned him a strong reputation, and the Rangers were glad to have him back full-time.
Advice for aspiring sports administration students
“It’s being patient for that big break because it will happen. If you’re doing the right things it will happen to you.”
“The network is so big. It’s so cliché, but nothing is truer than having a good network in the sports industry. It’s how you get further. It’s how you build relationships. And it’s how you can really establish yourself in the industry and continue to move up.”
“When you’re working long days, nights, and weekends, it can really take a toll on you. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is as rewarding as people think it is once you’re a part of it, but you just have to be able to make the dedication to get there.”