While most people go where their careers take them, some people find careers that take them where they want to go. Trey Fitz-Gerald, director of Public Affairs and Broadcasting for the Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer (MLS) team, spends from one-third to half of every year traveling the country with the team, and that’s just the way he likes it.
With a taste for travel that started in his youth, Trey realized in college that sports public relations (PR) could take him where he wanted to go, literally.
“I was an English major when I was in college,” Trey recounts. “I was also a sports editor on the newspaper. Getting a job with the Denver Nuggets, my favorite NBA team growing up—that’s when a lightbulb went off and I said, ‘This is fun. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.’ I like dealing with the media. It’s exciting to try to help expose people to something, to try to educate and inform and hopefully give a positive impression about who we are and what we’re about. “I’ve been involved in this league for 15 years on the PR side. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s allowed me a lot of unique experiences and given me an opportunity to see and be a part of a lot of things I otherwise probably wouldn’t have.”
So what’s one of the greatest such opportunities you’ve had, thanks to your career?
I would say that it was a unique opportunity for us last June when we were in Washington, DC, for three days. We played the same team twice: once Wednesday and once Saturday. And then sandwiched between those two games was an opportunity for our entire team—our players, our coaches, our ownership group, some VIPs and friends of the organization, as well as a few select members of the staff—to get to go to the White House and be honored by President Obama. I think we were only the second MLS team to be honored in that fashion, so that was an exciting, intense, stressful, and ultimately very rewarding experience.
Who have you had a chance to meet because of your career?
I met David Beckham. He actually helped break ground on Rio Tinto Stadium. I rode a bus with Henry Kissinger when I was at the World Cup in Seoul, Korea. He was very polite. Just last week on my way to the draft, I ended up sitting in a plane next to Dan Marino, the NFL quarterback. Great guy. I tried to leave him alone because everyone on the plane was like, “Oh, that’s Dan Marino!” But he actually wanted to chat about things. Hopefully I didn’t bore him with my love of John Elway and the Denver Broncos. What’s a typical day like? The PR and communications department is ideally at the hub of everything, so from one minute to the next we’re dealing with a ticket initiative or a marketing promotion or a sponsorship deal with one of our partners—either trying to make sure the message is being communicated clearly to the consumer or arranging exposure for the local media to come out and cover whatever’s going on.
Do you get to enjoy the places you go? Do you have time?
Yeah. It gives me the opportunity to catch up with friends or family that are spread out across the country that you wouldn’t otherwise normally get to see. I have cousins everywhere. I have friends from college or colleagues around the country. So I have the chance to go have lunch or dinner or coffee or whatever with those people.
What’s something that you weren’t expecting about your job—something most people don’t know?
I guess I learned when I started with the NBA how hard it is to get people to talk for 15 minutes about themselves. You’d think when you’re a pro athlete that it would be easier, but it’s not always that easy. Some of the guys are just very private.
What’s something about yourself that most people don’t know?
That I have an incredible collection of old-school hip-hop.
What’s your plan for the next 10 years?
Professionally, in the next 10 years I’d like to see Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer continue to grow at the rate that it has the last ten years. And I just got married, so I’d like to start a family as well. We have a puppy, a Shiba Inu, like a miniature Japanese husky, that I just got six weeks ago, so hopefully he continues to do as well as he has been and lives a long and prosperous life. It’s changed our lives and our routine quite a bit to have a young puppy at home.
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