For most professional athletes, their sport is their job, but for FC Gold Pride defender Kristen Graczyk, playing in WPS is only one job that she holds.
The Albuquerque, N.M. native has a master’s degree in sports marketing from the University of New Mexico and spent the 2009 season helping out in the front office, as well as, helping the Pride on the field. She also spent the off-season working for Southwest Sports Institute (SWSI) in Albuquerque.
Southwest Sports Institute is a professional fitness and sports club focusing on athlete’s performance including post injury programs, individual and team training programs and nutrition. Graczyk helped out with business development – promoting SWSI and getting people to come in to the club.
Having been born and raised in the area, she knew the area well which definitely helped in her promotions. An added bonus was not only being able to spend the off-season gaining some of the experience that she says she lacks but she was also able to train at SWSI.
The 26-year-old was always, “very business savvy,” and wanted to know how businsses functioned. So as an undergraduate, she was able to combine two things she loved – sports and business – to major in sports marketing at the University of Connecticut.
“I liked sports and the business side [of them],” she said “Like, how they bring people in and promote the team.”
The balancing act between life as a professional athlete and a career in the sports marketing industry has been a challenge at times in terms of gaining experience. The opportunity to play professionally is a “whole different side” compared to the sports marketing aspect.
The only downside [if there is such a thing] is that others are gaining the invaluable experience in marketing, while she focuses on her soccer career. However, Graczyk has still able to gain some pretty invaluable experience herself.
She has been able to help out in the front office, serving almost as a liaison between front office and the players in 2009. In doing this she is able to give a player’s perspective to those in the front office and can relay what’s going on to her teammates.
The balancing act will continue in 2010 between front office promotions off the field and defending world class forwards on the field.
“Once the team is picked and life is organized, I can figure out when I can get in. I’d be missing out if I don’t take it.”
For more information about Southwest Sports Institute please visit www.swsinm.com or call (505) 344-3600.
Watch Kristen and the rest of her FC Gold Pride teammates as they take on the reigning WPS Champions Sky Blue FC on May 1, 2010 at 6PM ET/3PM PT. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and will be available to match track on www.womensprosoccer.com .
Photo courtsey of www.centerlinesoccer.com