Let It Happen
Our guest this week, Rob King, is the Media Relations Coordinator for the Philadelphia 76ers and another alumnus of Marist College. After graduating in 2014 with a B.A. in Communications: Sports Communication/Journalism, Rob set out to make his dream of working in sports a reality. Like most journeys in life, however, his path was met with an unexpected twist. He reminds us that life does not always work out according to plan; but that doesn't stop it from "working out" in the end.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – First of all, what’s with that dateline? Philadelphia, PA? Pennsylvania was never in the plan. Then again, what was in the plan?
I’ll take you back to Day One at Marist College; that would be August 28, 2010. I’d chosen Marist over Hofstra in order to get the experience of ‘going away’ to school, while remaining within two hours (*traffic-dependent*) of my parents’ Long Island home. Another reason Marist was the place for me? That would be a major in Sports Communication. As a kid, I chose to watch SportsCenter and Yankee games over Boy Meets World and All That (yeah, I can’t really talk ‘90's TV, sorry). I knew that I was going to work in sports and the goal was to be an on-air personality…
That’s not how it played out.
Anyway, back to that first day; I walked into an 8 a.m. class with Professor Colin McCann, who also happened to be a key figure in Marist’s First-Year Programs operation as well. The class was entitled Communication Studies, and, ironically enough, one of my classmates was none other than Brittany MacLeod (co-founder of this here website). Throughout that first semester, the coursework was based largely on the fundamentals of communication as a tool, but not as it related to sports. However, in the spring semester, I got my first taste of the sports communication track in a class known as Sports, Culture and Communication taught by the one and only Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication.
I’m proud to say that Dr. Strudler morphed my dream of working in sports into reality, by assisting me both in and out of the classroom. It was with his support, and that of Prof. Gerry McNulty, Director of the Communication & Media Studies Internship Program, that I made one of my most important decisions. I elected to enroll in the Marist in Manhattan Internship Program for the Spring 2013 semester.
The program houses students in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a six-block walk from the 4-5-6 subway line, and places them at a full-time internship as they complete online classes throughout the semester. In November, 2012, I secured an interview with my favorite basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets. At this point in time, I just thought that that was ‘cool'; I had no idea what I was getting myself into. On my application I’d listed my three departments of interest as 1) Communications, 2) Marketing and 3) Public Relations.
When I walked into the new MetroTech Center offices and spoke with Human Resources, I was told that the only opening that remained was in PR and that that position would largely work out of the Nets’ practice facility in New Jersey. Well, I couldn’t say no, so I became the Marist in Manhattan kid that commuted to Jersey on a daily basis.
Also, I had no clue what PR was.
"If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the course of the past seven years, it’s that you can’t control the future. All you can do is start with an idea or a concept and work toward it. There are no guarantees."
In January, 2013, my career began and I was introduced to the world of sports public relations, in which I am now a full-time employee. I spent January through August with the Nets, went back to Marist for my senior year in the fall, and acted as a ‘regular’ student for a couple of months before being summoned back to Brooklyn/New Jersey in a part-time capacity after a pair of departures by employees within the PR department. Then came graduation in May, 2014 (a matter of weeks after working the final home game of the Nets’ Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Miami Heat). A week after graduation, my part-time stay with the Nets came to a close… Just in time for a reflective (and adult-beverage-infused) Memorial Day Weekend.
Summer 2014 was tough. I wanted to be back at Marist hanging out with my friends in ‘The D’ (our on-campus apartment, Lower Fulton 11D), but reality set in and I began my crusade for a full-time job. Three NBA teams offered seasonal positions to me that summer, but I wasn’t sure about moving a long distance for a job with no guarantee of a hire at its conclusion. Then, at the recommendation of a family friend, I applied to an opening at the National Football League office in New York. The job, also temporary, was for a 'Public Relations Assistant', but it would allow me to commute from Long Island to the city as opposed to moving. Fortunately, the NFL employed a recent Red Fox graduate and I started there in August, 2014.
After 14 incredible months at the NFL, during which I made friends for life, attended the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago, it came time to move from a temporary job to a permanent one. An opening with the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers caught my attention. The posting was for a ‘Media Relations Coordinator’, and after reading the description I knew that I could do the job with relative ease (thanks to my prior experience in the NBA and the Nets).
I landed the Sixers job in October, 2015 and subsequently moved to Philadelphia and away from the rest of the family/extended family on Long Island. It was hard; but, if I was going to stay true to the career path that I began back in January of 2013, then I had to do it. I picked up with the Sixers right where I left off with the Nets and have not looked back. We won 10 games this past season, but we were awarded the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. On June 23rd of this past year, things came full circle. I was the Sixers’ PR rep at the draft, which was held at my old stomping ground… Barclays Center. It was a magical night that I was able to spend with Ben Simmons and his family. That night, as well as this offseason, have me very excited for the 2016-17 NBA season.
Okay, I realize that that was a lot of backstory, but without it, I’m not sure that these closing remarks would be as meaningful. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the course of the past seven years, it’s that you can’t control the future. All you can do is start with an idea or a concept and work toward it. There are no guarantees. Think of it this way… Marist freshman Rob King was focused on being a media member, a TV/radio host, someone in the public eye. Twenty-three year-old Rob King is a PR person, a press-release writer, someone out of the public eye; and yet, his main purpose is to support the people that he once-upon-a-time wanted to be—the writers, the broadcasters, the sideline reporters.
It's funny how things play out, but through all of the long commutes, all of the weekend, holiday and late work-nights, I can’t say I would change a thing.
See you all on October 26 on ESPN when Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.