Being a part of an opening team is an enormous responsibility and a ridiculously fun challenge. Anything goes. Literally.
Working at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in 1997, I just knew I had to get my shot to work at the recently opened Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex (I was hired on a few months after true opening). Through volunteering at the first tennis and track & field events, I secured a position as the first registration coordinator for the International Police & Fire Games. As it happened, there was a nasty hurricane that ravaged the east coast 2 weeks prior and most of our scheduled teams had to back out due to obligations to their own local communities. I quickly pivoted and was able to stay on permanently as one of the first competition coordinators.
We worked crazy hours in the beginning, being on a small but mighty team of extraordinary sports specialists. We learned quickly and on the fly, but continuously got better and more efficient. Our reputation was built on quality events in exceeding all expectations of clients and guests. Repeat guests were our best marketing and we soared. We constantly benchmarked other events and raised the bar. Event management was a young person’s game and we had boundless energy. We made each other better and that resonated throughout the ranks.
Expansion was imminent and we took on the challenge of growing and selling out even bigger venues. The grind was addictive and so satisfying. We slept on the hard scorekeeper counters in the softball tower on late nights, got drenched regularly transporting guests during the infamous FL summer weather, helped load in vendors during grueling overnight changeovers, threw 50 lb bags of turface out onto rain drenched fields to try to salvage tournament play, ran interference in coach/referee disputes, celebrated champions in extravagant awards setups, and on and on…
After 15 years, I faced a tough crossroads. I had touched every event in our arsenal in some form, so I needed a new challenge to keep my internal fire burning. And in order to get my experience and achieve my dream of running my own operation, I needed to venture out. I knew staying at Disney was the direct path and could have easily retired at my second home. BUT I also knew I had a higher purpose even though the details weren’t exactly clear at the time. Taking that leap of faith was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make….. and has led to even more growth & an incredibly rewarding journey. BLESSED.