Sports Management Major Gets Inside Look at Future Career

The Charger Bulletin



As a kid growing up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., all Marco Lanza ’14 dreamed about was becoming a professional soccer player.

Marco Lanza ’14. Photo by UNH Today

In eighth grade, after Lanza broke his left femur during a game, doctors discovered a large cyst in his leg. His femur was essentially hollow.

“At that point, I realized that I would not be able to play soccer for the rest of my life and that I needed to be more realistic about what I would make of myself,” said Lanza, a business management major with a minor in professional sales.

His passion for sports and the business of sports led Lanza to UNH, where he has taken advantage of the University’s reputation as a leader in experiential education.

Lanza interned for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) during the spring and fall of 2012, in addition to being a temporary employee there over winter break. He also interned for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in the spring of 2012.

At WWE, he worked for the Shop and Venue department, where he was responsible for managing product pricing, promotions and planning. He also assisted in sales forecasting, margin management and financial analysis and worked with cross-functional teams on product management, marketing and talent royalties.

As part of one project, Lanza was asked to organize an enormous amount of data that would help determine the top ten wrestlers and the most popular items sold for each month, quarter and for the entire year of 2011.

“I received a lot of positive feedback on my work from higher-level executives,” he said. “It was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.”

Not counting nearly getting flattened by WWE icon Triple H when coming around a corner one day, Lanza said the most memorable part of interning for WWE was seeing people wear the products that he was in charge of ordering and managing via the WWE shop website.

“It was very interesting to see the full cycle of ordering products based on customer needs,” he said. “It made me feel like the work that I was doing was playing a part in the success of WWE as a corporation.”

‘Living a Dream’

Back during his first year at UNH, Lanza entered into the sports management mentor program, where he connected with Jef Thiffault ’00, former manager of operations for SUM (Soccer United Marketing)/MLS (Major League Soccer) and current owner of Contigo Event Management.

It was Thiffault who helped Lanza land his New York Red Bulls internship, where he helped manage the home and away team locker room preparations, set up field board signage and other on-field equipment, and assisted in game-day operations of the Red Bulls’ 25,000-seat arena.

“It was like living a dream to be able to work in a fun, fast-paced environment that keeps me so close to a sport that I love and grew up with,” Lanza said.

In fact, Lanza said his dream job would be to work for MLS in a role focusing on international relations.

At Soccer United Marketing, Thiffault helped organize the biennial Gold Cup soccer tournament, the regional championship between national teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. One of the cities Thiffault was assigned to a venue manager in 2009 was Washington, D.C., which hosted two quarterfinal games at RFK Stadium. “A week before Marco mentioned how he’d like to come help out at a game, so I told him to pack a bag and meet me in D.C.,” Thiffault recalled.

Exploding ticket sales had Thiffault dealing with many-last minute issues, and Lanza was instrumental in helping get through the chaos.

“Marco stepped up and helped arrange the logistics around the training sites we had reserved for team practices,” Thiffault said. “He also helped manage the four local liaisons we hired to work with each team. Marco did a really good job with a lot of things thrown at him, and I think he enjoyed the experience.”

Lanza, who said his family members are his biggest supporters, feels every student should experience an internship.

“We go to college to further our knowledge in the hope of getting a job in the industry that we desire,” he said. “I feel that internships are the best way for college students to leverage themselves into their desired careers. The best way to learn is through hands-on experiences.”