Monday, October 25, 2010

Fifteen questions with Seals GM Roxann Bury

As part of our off-season commitment to keeping your lives full of Seals news, we promised to bring you exclusive interviews with key members of the Seals staff. We are happy to present the first of those interviews - Seals General Manager Roxann Bury.

Early last season, Roxann was promoted to General Manager of the Victoria Seals baseball club. As a GM, she experienced the day-to-day operations of the club at a whole new level, put in countless hours at the ballpark, and even took over the on-field promotional duties midway through the season. Roxann took the time to answer our questions about life in the Seals front office...

What is the best part about working for a professional baseball team?

Every day is an exciting challenge. We have an opportunity to create events and entertain people. It's really rewarding to know that if people chose to attend a Seals game that I had a little bit to do with the great night they will have.

How did you get your start in professional sports management?

My first position was Community Relations and Promotions Coordinator for the Calgary Cannons (AAA). I was in my second year of a Broadcasting Diploma and met the GM at a Sports Forum hosted by the College. He told me about the position, I applied and that became my first summer in the sun!

What was your favourite sport growing up? Any favourite teams or players?

I grew up in Kamloops where your first love is Hockey. I was a big fan of the Blazers, a season ticket holder for 6 years. My NHL team was the LA Kings and I was a Gretzky fan.

There aren’t very many female General Managers or even Assistant GMs in professional baseball. Have you faced any additional challenges because of your gender?

I think in any profession you face challenges, but I haven’t really had any incidents that I would directly say were a situation because of my gender. I've worked with really great owners and on field staff. They respect me and I respect them.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Not enough hours in the day! During the season there is more Team/Operations work, but I still have to be on top of the Marketing and Entertainment. It's a fine balance to allow enough time for both of the sides.

Do you see yourself as a bit of a role model for women in sports management?

I hope that if anyone is looking at my career and feeling inspired it’s because of the accomplishments of the organizations I’ve been a part of. If someone now believes they can peruse a sports career or decided on a career in sports because of the role that I am in then I am proud to be a woman working in sports.

What goes on in the Seals front-office in the off-season?

The off season is a time where we evaluate and look at where we can improve and build from the foundations set in the previous season. We develop our marketing, sales and media plans and then put them into motion. Once we have a schedule (usually early January) we start to look at travel and team operations. It's a busy, but really fun time. We get to be creative and innovative and excited about the upcoming season.

Talk about the 2010 Seals season. Everything you expected it to be?

I was happy with the 2010 season. We set goals to improve both on and off the field and accomplished both of those. Our winning percentage was up, but as we look to 2011 we still need to get that Win/Loss record more in our favour! We wanted to utilize the scoreboard in the 2010 season; the additions of headshot/stats graphics, pre produced video clips and on field replays enhanced our in game entertainment. We will continue to explore all that we can do with our video board to provide top quality entertainment for our fans.

What has been your favourite moment since joining the Seals organization?

On July 27th when Eri Yoshida started for Chico I took a second to watch her throw her first pitch. I love knowing that the Victoria Seals have a little piece of history in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Her start marked the first time a woman has played in professional games in 3 countries.
I love watching the game from deep right field, down past our bull pen late in the game. Around the 8th inning in on a crisp June night there is the most beautiful sun set that drops between homeplate and 3rd base. It makes me so grateful that I work in baseball and get to have that scene as my office!

Any low-lights?

Not fully remembering the 2009 Home Opener! I remember having a conversation with Darren (Parker, President) on the concourse about ½ hour before gates open ~ we were going through a mental checklist of things ensuring we were ready. Then I remember covering the pitchers mound with a tarp post game. The rest of the night is a blur! I know we had our opening ceremonies, first pitch and our promotions ran smoothly. I really wish I remembered some of the details or had stopped and just enjoyed that special night for what it was; the first game in the Victoria Seals history!

Do you normally travel with the team when they are on the road? Where’s your favourite road trip in the GBL and why?

I don’t normally travel with the team, but I have been to parks in Calgary, Edmonton, St George, and Tucson. I enjoy Calgary as I lived there for 10 years so it is sort of like going home. I have some great memories of Foothills Stadium as a fan and from my years of working for the Cannons.

How many players are under contract with the Seals for the 2011 season? Are there any names you can share with us?

Most of the contracts signed in the GBL are 2 year deals. They are second year club option which means the organization has the opportunity to exercise their options with the players. There will be more details on this in the next few weeks as the deadline to exercise those options is November 15th.

Do you have any changes in store for 2010 to further enhance the fan experience at RAP?

We are focusing on some of the details of our game night entertainment. I expect that you will see more giveaways, more prizes, different on field promotions and more interaction with our fans. We really try to be what minor league baseball allows us to be; fan friendly, fun, affordable and really entertaining.

A few tough times at the park this year. Are you expecting the city to step up a bit more next year, given two solid years of success?

The Venue / tenant relationship is always that one of the Chicken and Egg. It’s hard to invest in improvements for an organization when you don’t know if they will survive, but it’s tough for an organization to survive if there are not necessary improvements. I think that the Seals have proved to be a solid business, and we are dedicated to being a successful entertainment choice for Greater Victoria. Royal Athletic Park upgraded its audio system in 2010 and I hope that more improvements like that to give the fans a better overall experience will continue to happen as we look to 2011.

How much fun is it doing the on-field promotions?

The on field promotions are a blast! I am lucky that I don’t have a fear of public speaking or being in front of crowds. I like being able to meet and talk to our fans. One of my favourite things was seeing a contestant we had for a promo out at another game a few weeks later. I knew that they had a great time and were coming back again. We are going to try and shake up the promos for next year to hopefully make them even more exciting to watch and participate in.