Brooklyn, New York is a place well known for its’ sports. From the old Brooklyn Dodgers, to the new Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, and even Brooklyn Cyclones, the proud tradition of sports is well kept in this borough of New York City.

Most young boys in the borough grow up with crazy and imaginative dreams of one day starring for a pro sports team, and, where better than in their own backyard?

Some make it, not all do. But one boy, a simple young man, from a quiet section of south Brooklyn known as Bergen Beach, was determined to follow in the footsteps of the few rather than the many.

Growing up, Robert DeVita was just like many others that came before him.

He played little league baseball, and watched his favorite team -- the New York Mets -- while hoping that one day he would be working with the same people he once watched on television.

Now, most young men will eventually grow up and realize that their dreams of playing pro ball will go unfulfilled. But Robert was not among them. After smartly concluding that he would not be a player on the field, he chased his dream down another path. The path of working behind the scenes of a pro team.

From an early age he knew where his destiny lay and through hard work and determination he made it happen.

Now the Director of New Media for Communications at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Robert was gracious enough to grant us a tell all interview about how he made it when so many did not.

Interview

Q: Tell us about you?

Rob: “I’m 23 years old and I graduated from St. Francis College in May 2015, with a degree in Communications. I knew I wanted to work in sports from a very young age -- I’d say between eight and 10 years old. I grew up a die hard Mets fan and I always watched the broadcasts.

“When SNY came about, it was Gary, Keith, and Ron. I always wanted to do something like that, and I imitated them. I remember in third grade, my mom coming up to school for parent-teacher conference and she found the sports section of The Daily News in my desk. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in sports.

I was heavily involved with statistics and Baseball was the sport that got me going, and from there I gained interest in other sports.”

Q: What did you want to do with your life?

Rob: “Once I made my way into the field and learned more about what goes on in sports I knew I wanted to go into a part of the industry other than broadcasting. My first experience in the industry was as a Public Relations Intern for the New York Rangers during the 2015 season when they made their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the Public Relations department, I was exposed to the media relations aspects of the field and that’s what I gained my interest in and I wanted to expand from there. I enjoy watching broadcasts, but my interests shifted to working for a team or conference on the media relations side.

“The goal for me is to continue to work my way up the ladder. Right now, I’m the Director of New Media for Communications at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) which is a mid-major conference and has 11 member institutions. Broadcasting was just one thing in the field that everybody knew about, because at a young age you would see and hear these guys over and over again on the television and the radio, but you don’t realize that’s there’s so many more aspects to the industry, until you step foot in the door and get that first-hand experience.”

The Beginning

Q: How did you get started in the sports world?

Rob: “Even before I worked for the Rangers, if you go back to my junior year of college, I started writing for the student newspaper at St.

Francis College -- specifically in the sports section -- I was the sports editor. I covered Division I athletics. I composed feature stories, post-game stories, covered live events, games, and conducted interviews with players and coaches. It was on my own time, but I wanted to gain experience in the field.

“At the time I wanted to go into broadcasting or journalism, so I did that for my junior and senior years. It helped develop my editorial skills and from there, the summer after junior year, I wrote for a local magazine covering high school and college athletics. Doing feature stories, previewing games and seasons. I also wrote for a blog, covering the New York Mets. It was enjoyable to me since they are my favorite team.

Just doing the nitty gritty to gain the skills that would lead me to where I am today.”

The path to success

Q: In the Sports Industry, take us through each of your stops?

Rob: “I started my career in professional sports during my final semester of college, which was January of 2015. My first working experience, internship-wise, was in the Public Relations department of the New York Rangers. It was an entry level position in the public relations field doing game notes, media clips, preparing credentials for games, researching statistics, and media monitoring.

“One of the main tasks we worked on was the media clips on a daily basis. It was a tedious process, but essential to an organization. It gets sent around the entire organization and the entire staff/front office are all looking at the clips to prepare for the day ahead.

“The opportunity exposed me to the most fundamental part of the public relations/media relations field, and I feel, that if someone is trying to break into that part of the industry they should experience a position like that once or twice to get that hands on experience. And of course, you’re working in a professional environment. You’re around players, coaches, media members that you have seen or heard about, but this is the first time that you’re around them and in the same room as them. You need to conduct yourself in a professional manner. That’s the biggest thing. It’s a job, you can’t go in there as a fan.

“That position ran for the entirety of my last semester of college, so January to June.

My next stop was a seasonal position at the US Open for the USTA during the 2015 tournament. That was a tremendous experience. I was a player liaison for post-match interviews. I worked in conjunction with the WTA to ensure the athletes were informed and prepared for their media obligations. When they came back towards the locker rooms I had to approach them and communicate with them what media outlets wanted them for interviews -- whether it was a live shot, a newspaper interview, and things of that nature. It was a little bit more difficult if the athlete lost, it’s tough because of all the emotion that goes into the competition, but it’s something that you have to do. Everybody is there to do a job.

I was there to help facilitate interviews. It’s one of the biggest international events in the sports industry and it was great to get that experience.

“After the US Open, I accepted two part-time positions. One was a game-night staff position with the Brooklyn Nets in their Public Relations department. The second was at my alma mater St. Francis Brooklyn as a Communications Assistant in the Athletics Department.

“I was working game nights for the Nets. Distributing stat sheets for media members, helping media members get to and from seating, helping set up media areas, distribute box scores, and starter sheets. Post-game I would transcribe quotes that were distributed to the media. I was stationed in the media room printing out box scores, maintaining statistics and fielding question to assist members of the media.

“At St. Francis I was the primary media contact for the women’s basketball team. I traveled exclusively with the team and that was where I got my most hands on experience to that point. I prepared game notes, wrote pre- and post-game stories, pretty much everything that needed to be done for game days to give the student-athletes the premier coverage that they deserve, because they work so hard. Creating graphics for social media that were used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Conducting coach and player interviews, setting up interviews on the media relations side.

“On game days I was in charge of the scorer’s table, making sure the staffing was properly prepared and seated, whether it was the official scorer, the statistician, the shot clock and clock operators.

I had to make sure the broadcasters were good to go. In college athletics there’s a lot more moving parts. You’re juggling a few more hats.

“That was my introduction to the media relations side of college athletics. It really prepared me for what was my next step, which was a dream of mine from a young age. I worked in the New York Mets Media Relations department for the entire 2016 season as a Media Relations Associate.

“I with aspects of the game notes, which were distributed on a game-to-game basis. Whether it was researching a player, or editing the front page of the game notes, which was all team notes and important notes that we needed to have accurate for the media. Then there were tasks similar to what I did with the Rangers.

Media clips that got sent around the organization, composing press releases, and media monitoring. It was very similar, but I had a lot more obligations with the Mets because I came in with a year-and-a-half of experience before I started with them. All that managed to help prepare me for my next step.

“Working a Major League Baseball season is probably one of the most tedious, but one of the best experiences of my career thus far. You’re there for a 162-game stretch, not including spring training. On a home stand, say a 10-game home stand, you’re there every day from 7 am to about 12 at night depending on if it’s a day game. You have to prepare yourself mentally. It’s a grind.”

Q: Mentors?

Rob: “Mark McSherry (college Professor and journalist), Robert Roberts (Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller), and Mike Passanisi (Media Relations Coordinator, New York Mets).”

His role at the MAAC

Q: Daily duties and overall responsibilities?

Rob: “I’m at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. My job title is the Director of New Media/Communications. I’m the primary contact for five Division I sports right now. They are women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, and softball. My role is to promote the conference and our 11 member institutions to the best of my ability.

“I want the student-athletes to have premier exposure. I am extremely active on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, etc. We promote our student-athletes by crafting graphics and press releases to engage our fans on a day-to-day basis. Fielding requests, answering any sort of questions maintaining statistics on a day-to-day basis for all of those sports, and then some. Social media is a major part of my role. It’s a huge part of what everyone does in today’s day and age. Having a voice on social media is a goal of mine and we’ve done a good job of that over the nine months that I’ve been at the conference -- I started in October of 2016. I maintain the website every single day, making sure stories and press releases are being posted, and that statistics are being archived.

“We just switched over to a brand new website -- MAACsports.com -- same domain. We partnered with Sidearm Sports, who’s a leader in collegiate athletics, so that the switch was a painless effort. We launched on July 1st. Now it’s just making sure that our archives transfer over. We want to make sure that everything is aesthetically pleasing because we want it to be user friendly. It’s been a pleasure working with Sidearm sports during the transfer. I also oversee our ticket operations for championship events. I make sure it’s organized, being promoted properly, and that the parents and fans can easily access tickets to our events. We want there to be a great show of support for our student-athletes. I work with a great staff and I’m thankful for them.”

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