Garry Rosenfield is a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law (2013) and the University of Connecticut (2010). He currently leads the Women’s Basketball Division at Coaches Inc., a sports agency and marketing firm devoted to the careers of college coaches. Below is a Q&A with Garry where we discussed his role at Coaches Inc., what he likes about the agency business, skills needed to be an agent and advice he’d give aspiring sports business professionals.
1) Why did you initially want to pursue a career in sports? When did that decision(s) take place?
Sports have always played a major role in my life. I played as many as I can growing up, and once everyone around me got taller and I didn’t, I knew that the business of sports is what I wanted to pursue. My first real job as a part-time sports writer for a daily newspaper was the perfect thing for me in high school, and use that experience inspired me to attain internships with the Kraft Sports Group and other sports-related companies. With my father being an attorney, I had always considered law school and felt that if I could do something related to sports, I’d never dislike waking up and going to work.
2) How has law school helped you during the past year as a sports agent?
The common saying is that “you don’t learn how to practice law in law school”, but by interning with Coaches Inc. throughout my last 15 months of law school, I was able to tailor that last year to what my interests were. Contract law is a huge component of what we do as sports agents at Coaches Inc., so that’s one important law school helped. For any job, doing it in an ethical manner is important, so my ethics courses also help me in my day-to-day work, even if it’s subconsciously. Also, the general legal principles you encounter and work with in law school often come up throughout this profession, and it’s important to be able to recognize and discuss them.
3) What types of projects and tasks occupy your time during a given week? On a side note, how much of your time is spent traveling for your clients’ needs or possibly to recruit new clients?
While we’re sports agents at Coaches Inc., our work goes well-beyond the traditional “agent” role of contract advisement. The type of projects and tasks really depend on the time of the year. My calendar is split into three parts. During the season, I’m tracking all of women’s college basketball — and my clients’ teams in particular — to know what jobs and teams to keep an eye on as the season wraps up and job movement begins. Also during this time, I’m in constant contact with our clients to ensure they’re preparing and following up on their end, when they can, to put themselves in the best position to reach their goals at the end of the season.
The second part of the calendar comes around the NCAA Tournament and lasts until the end of June/early July — and that’s when job movement occurs. I work with my clients to get involved in head and assistant coach searches, work with them on their presentations materials, do mock interviews and find out information critical to the job or process. A big part of my role during this time is also advice. We take a long-term approach at Coaches Inc. and make it a point to help our clients make the best career-based decision; not advising them to take what might be a bad job simply because it’s open, available or to have the title of a “head coach”. The job has to make sense for them from a career, financial and family standpoint.
The final part of my calendar year lasts from mid-June until the start of the season — “summer”. I make it a point to take advantage of the whole year to better a client’s career — to put them in a better position during the next “hiring season” than they were the previous year. To that end, we’ve introduced programs our clients participate in during the summer to make sure we take advantage of all opportunities and down-time they may have.
In regard to traveling — we travel for different reasons. During the season, we’re traveling to visit clients and support them at their games. We make it a point that when you work with Coaches Inc., you know you’ve joined a team that supports each other and is always around. When it’s the offseason, we’ll travel to visit new clients and/or interested coaches, but also to follow-up with those who’ve been with us and have some time-off. The off-season is also a good time to visit clients when campus is less-crowded and their daily schedules aren’t crazy busy.
4) If there’s one or two aspects of the agency industry that you could change, what would those be and why?
One aspect that I would change about the agency industry actually falls outside of it — and it’s the stigma and assumptions made about “agents” in the work we do. Too many times people think that all an agent does is show up and demand more money for their clients, and that they’re a pain to work with. Coaches Inc. has a strong reputation of being easy to work with and concerned with things aside from finances, and I’ve seen firsthand how important that reputation and approach to our work is in dealing with administrators and coaches alike. I take a genuine interest in everything that’s important to any client I work with — basketball, family, day-to-day stuff — and I love it. One of my favorite parts of doing what I do is establishing these relationships with my clients where they’ll just call on a drive home from the office to shoot the breeze. That to me is what an “agent” is: somebody that a client can depend on when things are good and bad, and someone who is always available to talk and deal with anything on their mind.
5) What is the most difficult part about being an agent?
It’s really not “difficult”, but the fact that we don’t necessarily work traditional “hours” was new when I first started. You can get into the office at 8:30AM and leave at 5PM, but if a client calls me at 9PM, I’m taking that call. If an issue arises at 1:30AM and I get a call, I’m up at 1:30AM and dealing with it. It’s not difficult but it’s something that many traditional attorneys don’t deal with.
6) Are there any two or three individuals you have looked up to in the agency business as you begin your career? Why have those people been role models for you?
I’m not someone who really “looks up” to super agents and those who get a ton of publicity. Quite frankly and honestly, Dennis Cordell — the founder and President of Coaches Inc. — is someone who I admire. He started this company from the ground, and gave a kid from Quinnipiac Law School in Hamden, CT a shot to do what he has always wanted to do. The guys I work with every day — Nick Meeker and John Colan — are two of the most dedicated and hard-working individuals I know. I’m lucky to work with the three of them and to have had them as guides. In the sports world, Mike Reiss of ESPN is another guy I have “looked-up” to. He hired me at the MetroWest Daily News when I was 14, and is someone who aside from being a tremendous reporter, is genuine, kind and always willing to help. The same goes for Albert Breer of the NFL Network, a guy I worked with at the MetroWest as well. He always makes himself available as an outlet for me, and it has been appreciated through the years.
7) What are 3-4 skills every sports agent needs to possess? Why are they essential?
This is an easy question. In my opinion, one of the most essential skills to being a successful sports agent is organization. You absolutely need to stay organized at all times, especially when dealing with many projects at once. You also need to be reliable and trustworthy — your clients need to have the ability to rely on the fact that when you say you’ll do something, it gets done and done well. They also need to trust you in what you do for them every day — trust the advice you give them, trust you in the conversations you have on their behalf and trust you to always have their best interests in mind. Honesty, integrity, and responsiveness are just as necessary and important in the work I do. You sometimes need to be able to have difficult conversations, but it’s an essential part of doing this job well, and these skills allow you to do that.
8) What is your ultimate career goal at this time?
I’m living my dream right now. It may be a cliché thing to say, but it’s the truth of the matter. I’m excited to continue to build and develop what we’ve started at Coaches Inc., and the things that are to come in the future. One of the great things about truly enjoying working for the people who hire you is that you take a personal interest in their careers. So, my biggest goal is to continue to work as hard as possible to do whatever I can to help my clients reach their goals.
9) In 100 words or less, what type of advice would you give aspiring sports business professionals who want to work in the agency business?
The sports business is an incredible one to work in, and if you want to, you can. You need initiative, passion, drive, patience. Find out what interests you, create a plan for what you want to do in that space, then go do it. Talk to as many people as possible. Remain consistent and open as many doors as you can. Ask people how they got to where they are, and don’t be afraid to ask.