Ever wanted to know what it's like to be the general manager of a professional sports team?
Sky Blue FC's Gloria Averbuch spoke with GM Gerry Marrone and found out exactly what goes into his job, how the WPS champions Sky Blue FC can improve, and his motivation.
A conversation with Sky Blue FC General Manager Gerry Marrone
By Gloria Averbuch
Gerry Marrone is a "soccer original." He started playing at age 14, and is now the father of three grown children.
He coached his son's soccer teams for 13 years, and was a league and club administrator, and travel soccer director. He also has previous experience in the business side of the game.
Q: What exactly is the role of the General Manager (GM)?
A: Every team's GM is different. Some of the team's GMs do nothing but the business side; some do only the soccer side, but I do both the soccer and the business, which I think is more traditional in a sports environment.
Basically, everything runs through the General Manager's office, from overseeing game day operations to running the office and helping the coaching staff to the best of my ability with player issues, and hopefully setting the tone of the company from a motivational standpoint.
Q: What's up for you lately?
A: Right now, my main focus is on sponsorship, and supporting ticket sales. I am also helping to complete the roster by preparing with Pauliina (Miettinen) and her staff to prepare for the draft.
Q: How do you improve on a team that won the first WPS Championship last year?
A: The beginning stages it is taking an honest look at what team was. Just because you won, doesn't mean you had the best team. What we learned last year is that the team needed help offensively. After all, our goal production was one of the lowest in league. Fortunately, we had a great defense and goalkeeping.
We felt we needed to strengthen the offense—and in many cases, that builds from the midfield. Similarly, going into next season our two center backs we relied on will not be available probably for the first two months of the season (Rampone is on maternity leave; Asante is recovering from ACL surgery). So, I looked line by line.
Our goalkeeping is sound, but there will be a gaping hole in center of defense. Our solution was to acquire Daphe Koster, but we also have sixth overall pick in the draft.
Our midfield created chances and held the ball well, but we had two international midfielders who were not coming back, and we replaced them with Carli Lloyd. From my perspective, that's an upgrade.
We have added some significant international firepower with Jessica Landstrom, one of top scorers in the powerful Swedish league, and Laura Kalmeri, the most capped and active all-time leading goal scorer for Finland.
Across the board, we've upgraded what was already a good team and made it a much better team.
Q: What would surprise people about your job?
A: The soccer business is not that much different than any other business I've been in. It is all about networking, having conversations, learning every single day and not being afraid to ask people their opinion. This kind of job works best when you don't have an ego.
Q: What personally motivates you?
A: The experience of spending a week of summer camp at age 15 and being around Pele for eight hours a day, playing and laughing with the most famous athlete in the world, was an eye-opening, passion-enriching experience that instilled in me the love of the game.
Here I had the single greatest athlete of all time carrying his own lunch tray and spending all day playing with us kids. The passion he had for this game was infectious.
Thirty years later, a photo from that week is up in my office. That's why I tell our players you never know whom you will impact. I would not be sitting in this office if it weren't for that week in 1978.
Q: What would you say to the average fan?
A: I think that this is a sport of passion. I am a passionate supporter of the game. Our fans need to be like that. We certainly want our fans to come support our team, but they also need to be soccer fans, watch on TV, get more engaged, and "consume" soccer.
You become a passionate fan of the sport before the team. The teams and the players will change. The sport will never change; it will always be soccer.
The more you know the game, become a student of the game, the more you understand the nuances and can truly appreciate the high level when you watch Sky Blue FC.
I think what we put out on the field is top-quality soccer. It is fun to watch, and fun to attend a game.
Have a question for Gerry about what it's like to run a pro sports team? Ask him on Twitter!
The previous story is excerpted from a press release by Sky Blue FC and is reprinted by beat writer Lauren Green. Green is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report and Sports, Then and Now. She can be contacted for comment or hire at firstname.lastname@example.org . PHOTO CREDIT: www.skybluefc.com
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