Alumni speak on sports opportunities

By Michael Battista
Staff Writer

In a night filled with laughs and lessons, the College welcomed back three former students to teach the current class about post-college careers in the sports world.

Alumnus Tom McCarthy (’90), the play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, moderated a discussion about the panelists’ current jobs and how their time at the College impacted them.

The panelists included alumnus Al Guido (’03), president of the San Francisco 49ers, and alumnus Luis Perez (’83), the former executive vice president and chief operating officer of Palace Sports Entertainment, which represents a number of Detroit teams and venues.

“It’s been exactly 30 years since I graduated here,” Perez said. “What’s happened here is astounding to me on campus. It really is a point of pride for me — like I get proud when I get the notes about the accomplishments the school is making.”

All three alumni told stories about how they reached the places they are now. None of them came into the College knowing exactly what they wanted to do, but all three encouraged students to explore their options to find what suited them best.

Guido said emotional intelligence is equal, if not greater, than intellectual intelligence. He credited former Lions football coach Eric Hamilton for helping him reach the College persuaded him to come to the College rather than become an Army Ranger.

“If someone asked me what were the things I learned, here is two things: accountability and work ethic,” Guido said. “Being part of the school or being part of the football team, the quote-unquote brotherhood of lifting each other up through tough times. I was one who didn’t do so well in high school, I had a bad year that I went through academically and sort of set me back. My teammates really were an extension of my family.”

A panel of alumni discusses how the College helped them (Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)
A panel of alumni discusses how the College helped them (Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)

Both Perez and Guido stressed the importance of communicating and working with others as a team to succeed in the sports industry.

McCarthy, whose two sons currently attend the College and participate in both baseball and the Sports Information office, said opportunities available at the College give students a chance to learn what it is like to hold positions outside of being a student.

“The advantage now is that there’s more to do,” McCarthy said. “They’ve always had students involved in the Sports Information department, but I think Mark Gola has done a great job in not only getting (my sons) involved, but also giving them the responsibilities to do it.”

Both Perez and Guido were members of Lions athletics, playing on the baseball team and football team, respectively, during their time here. They agreed that the experience had an impact on them.

“I’ve learned as much from that experience here than I did inside a classroom,” Perez said. “You talk about taking a group of people (with) very different backgrounds, different goals, different motivations, different styles and bringing them together to go and capture a common goal. There’s so much that I’ve learned from my time here that I apply now.”

The alumni also discussed how the vastly changing sports world has not only affected the field play, but the business of sports, as well. Guido said young people need to understand how each major sports league is run differently.

For example, Guido pointed out how the NFL relies on revenue from the entire league prospering, and Perez followed up with how the NBA mostly relies on revenue coming from the team itself.

After the talk, all three members fielded a few questions from the audience ranging from the recent debates over NCAA athletes being compensated to how the creation or moving of teams affects the sports world from a business sense.

When it was over, Guido said he hopes his words, along with the stories and advice given by the rest of the panel, can help lead students into a career they care about.

“Talking to people who have an interest in the world of sports, I feel like I can try and help however I can,” Guido said. “If I was able to provide some type of advice tonight that leads itself to someone going and looking and searching out a job opportunity that they’re passionate about then I’ll take that as a win.”