10 Sun Devils on front line of planning country's biggest sporting event
In the rare moments they’re not filling out spreadsheets, sending emails, answering phone calls and worrying about thousands and thousands of details, members of the 2023 Super Bowl host committee sometimes will talk about the Beatles.
Not just the band, mind you.
The Music of the Beatles course offered at Arizona State University.
That’s because 10 of the 20 full-time committee employees are ASU graduates. If the 2023 Super Bowl, to be played Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium, had official colors they would be maroon and gold.
“A lot of us have overlapped in time there as well and we’re always wondering, ‘Were we in class together?’” said Lesley Miller, the committee’s director of communications and a 2006 graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “There’s a lot of Sun Devil pride. We have one (Arizona) Wildcat in the office, and she takes a lot of heat, for sure.”
The 10 Sun Devils on the committee, including Miller, are:
• Rayme Lofgren, head of marketing. Major: Interdisciplinary studies.
• Anne Carman, director of events. Major: Communication.
• Alexis Ruiz, corporate partnerships coordinator. Major: Sports journalism.
• Jeramie McPeek, social media QB. Major: Journalism and mass communication.
• Summer Boland, social responsibility manager. Major: Interdisciplinary studies in business communication and mass communications.
• Cortney Vandenberg, director of events. Major: Global business management and leadership.
• Matt Snyder, director of operations. Major: Communication.
• John Santos, coordinator, finance and economic impact. Major: Finance and management.
• Nora Deleske, coordinator, corporate partnerships. Major: Sports law and business.
• Kyle Hessler, coordinator, operations. Major: Business communications.
Serving on the committee is not a part-time gig, something to do in one’s spare time. ASU News talked to Miller, Lofgren, Carman and Snyder, and all four left fulfilling careers in 2021 to help the 2023 Super Bowl come off with as few hitches as possible.
“It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had to take it,” said Lofgren, who left her job as senior director of marketing for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“The impact that the Super Bowl makes is beyond measure,” added Carman, who left a job at Make-A-Wish America. “It really is inspiring to see how much of an impact it leaves here and how much good comes from the Super Bowl and how many businesses get exposure. That’s such a rewarding part of this.”
And, let’s be honest, serving on a Super Bowl host committee doesn’t look bad on a resume.
“It’s sort of a no-brainer because the hope is that it’s a catalyst to the new big opportunity,” Miller said. “Really, there aren’t many other opportunities that will give you this experience.”
The four Sun Devils said their time at ASU helped prepare them for their committee responsibilities. Snyder, for example, said he worked three internships his senior year — Make-A-Wish America, Tuff Mudder and Live Aid — giving him important real-life experience.
Lofgren said ASU started her on a career path she had never considered, one that has led her to the Super Bowl. In fact, it was at an ASU-sponsored job fair that she first was connected to the Diamondbacks.
“I have always said that I would never have gotten involved in sports had I not gone to ASU,” she said. “I originally set out to be a journalist, and ASU really introduced me and opened my eyes to careers in sports.”
As the clock winds down to the Super Bowl, the to-do lists for the Sun Devils on the committee keeps expanding. They’re living the lyric from Billy Joel’s song "Vienna" — "You've got so much to do. And only so many hours in a day."
Ask Snyder about a typical day as director of operations and his 333-word answer touches on aviation concerns, drones, parking, team buses, practice sites, parking, Waymo, logistics, halftime rehearsal, the city of Mesa and PetSmart.
“I’m constantly sending myself emails of reminders,” Miller said. “Did you forget to do that today? Don’t forget to do that first thing tomorrow. Sometimes you do feel a little bit overwhelmed with how big this is and everything you have to coordinate.”
All of which raises the question: How do these Sun Devils sleep at night with so many details racing through their head?
“It’s a matter of staying organized,” Snyder said. “I’ve used multiple organizational tools that have helped me and evolved over the years. I’m a huge Excel spreadsheet guy.
“Then, you have to prioritize what’s urgent, what’s not, what can I delegate to team members, what can we push back on. And just being able to forecast that, 'Well, this is coming.’ We know eventually that someone is going to ask for this or we’re going to get to this point. How do we get ahead of it? But, yeah, the nights are getting later as we get closer to the game.”
Snyder often reminds his team of two things: First, the game will get played no matter what. Second, take a moment to appreciate what they’re doing.
“We’re so busy right now that it’s tough to take time to realize how cool of an opportunity this is,” he said. “Yes, we may be stressed to get these 100 parking spots for volunteers, and contracts may be getting delayed, but look what we’re doing. Look how many people we’re impacting and how much economic impact we’re helping to bring to Arizona.”
And once the Super Bowl is over? It’ll be at least a few days of rest for Miller, Carman and Lofgren. Snyder, however, has other plans.
“I got married during COVID, so we’re finally doing a big wedding in July,” he said. “My wife is like, ‘We need to hire a wedding coordinator.’ I said, ‘This is what I do. I coordinate.’
“So I send her spreadsheets all the time and she’s like, ‘What is this?’”
Hey, once you plan a Super Bowl, how tough can a wedding be?
Top photo: Front row (left to right): Kyle Hessler, Preston Ponteras (intern, current ASU student) and Haley Spracale (intern, current ASU student). Middle row (left to right): John Santos, Alexis Ruiz, Nora Deleske and Matt Snyder. Back row (left to right): Summer Boland, Lesley Miller, Rayme Lofgren and Anne Carman. Photo courtesy the Super Bowl Host Committee