Melissa Simmons, Director of Operations for NC State Wrestling
What is it like to be a director of operations and what does it take to be successful in the position? Melissa Simmons, director of operations for the NC State Wrestling team helps us get an inside scoop of the day-to-day responsibilities, must-have skills and best part of the job.
The Ridgefield, Washington, native and former national wrestling champion joined the Pack after previously serving as an assistant wrestling coach at Oklahoma City University. As the director of operations for men’s wrestling, Simmons is responsible for day-to-day logistics and the direction of the program. In her spare time, Simmons loves to travel and has recently taken up scuba diving as a new hobby.
Simmons holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Oklahoma City University and a Master of Science in Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sports Management from NC State University. But that’s not all, she also holds a graduate certificate in Sport and Entertainment Venue Management from NC State’s College of Natural Resources.
“I was able to directly apply what I had learned in class this spring semester when we submitted a bid to USA Wrestling,” she says. NC State won the bid and the Pack had the opportunity to host the 2019 USA Wrestling World Team Trials. “I don’t think that event would have run as smoothly and successfully if I had not been able to learn from the top professionals who run arenas like PNC and other NHL venues,” Simmons tells us.
“Having the opportunity to stay logged into class to ask questions directly to these individuals was incredibly invaluable.”
Below is a Q&A with Melissa Simmons.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a director of operations?
“Each day is different depending on the time of year, events coming up and needs of the coaches/athletes. Some days I could only be booking travel and meals for trips, others I am meeting with athletes and discussing school, goals or challenges with them.
My responsibilities change as the season changes. In the late summer or early fall, I spend most of my time planning travel for the upcoming season. I also communicate with parents and make sure the athletes have their beginning-of-the-year tasks and forms completed. During the season – October to March timeframe – I spend a lot of time traveling, planning and hosting competitions.
My duties include:
· Responsible for all aspects of team travel
· Monitor and manage budget
· Weekly meetings with athletes
· Supervise managers, interns and work-study students
· Assist with official recruiting visits
· Coordinate NC State wrestling events such as home duals, post-NCAA Championships social, fundraising efforts, pre-match socials, etc.
My favorite part of the job is watching the athletes from year 1 develop, graduate and become successful young adults.”
What type of skills does a director of operations need to be successful?
“Effective communication and good time management skills are definitely necessary to be successful in this job. There are so many different moving components in a Division 1 college program that you must have the ability to prioritize tasks and execute projects simultaneously.
Without these skills, you would feel extremely overwhelmed and stressed.”
How does your wrestling experience and coaching experience help you in your job?
“Being a former wrestler and coach helps me in this position because I understand things from their perspective. For example, when booking travel, I take into consideration that some of our athletes are cutting weight – so while a flight with a 3-hour layover may be less expensive, I know it would be miserable for the athletes. I also understand that the last thing a coach wants to worry about at an event or while traveling is things such as catering, hotel or transportation issues. That’s why it’s my goal for coaches to only worry about coaching; everything else I have under control.”
How did a graduate certificate help you in your role as director of operations?
“The Sport and Entertainment Venue Management (SEVM) graduate certificate helped me better understand the other side of being a director of operations. Knowing the dynamics and workings of the sport and entertainment venue industry has been instrumental in creating more opportunities and elevating my career.
There have been several times that I had to negotiate contracts, submit bids for events and coordinate venue and staffing needs. I was able to directly apply what I had learned in PRT 511 and 512 this spring when we submitted a bid to USA Wrestling and was able to host the 2019 USA Wrestling World Team Trials event here at NC State. I don’t think that event would have run as smoothly and successfully if I had not been able to learn from the top professionals who run arenas like PNC and other NHL venues. Having the opportunity to stay logged into class to ask questions directly to these individuals was incredibly invaluable.”
If the role of director of operations interests you, learn how an online graduate certificate in Sport and Entertainment Venue Management can help you gain the skills and knowledge to succeed in this field.