When Kyle Bazin was 10 years old, he took a computer quiz in elementary school that predicted he'd be a "sports statistician" someday. While it may not be an exact match to the results of this quiz, Bazin still considers himself lucky enough to be working as an e-mail marketing coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the National Football League.

Tackling a Degree at Saint Leo

Now 23, Bazin says he owes a good portion of his early career success to the time he spent as an undergraduate student at Saint Leo University. The native of Oldsmar, Fla. who now lives in Tampa enrolled at Saint Leo in 2013. He admits it was a bit of an unexpected marriage. 

"There was this random college fair they had at East Lake High School where I went," Bazin recalls. "Saint Leo had a recruiter, Matt, there. I never thought I'd go to a small school since I wanted a big university with a big-time football program and everything else. I didn't even know where Saint Leo was."

His parents were there and went over to speak with the recruiter. Once they found out the school offered a sport business major, they told Kyle to come on over and find out more about it.

"He was a really charismatic guy, and he had firsthand knowledge of the sport business program because he was a graduate of it. So, I thought I'd take a chance and just apply for the fall."

The other university he had hoped to attend turned him down. Then he got an honors scholarship to attend Saint Leo and a nice amount of his tuition covered by the Bright Futures scholarship program.

"Looking back, I couldn't have made a better decision because I couldn't have imagine life without Saint Leo," he says.

It was Dr. Dene Williamson who made the biggest impact on him while he was a student.

"She was my advisor and taught my first intro class. I remember her saying early on that no matter what any of us wanted in life, we could get it if we outworked everyone around us. She tucked me under her wing and saw the drive and passion in my eyes because I did want it more than anyone."

He also recalls Drs. Philip Hatlem and Susan Foster making an impression on him in the sport business program.

"Their classes were tough, but I got decent grades in them and prided myself on this."

Bazin lived on campus for a good portion of his time at Saint Leo. In addition to his involvement in the student-led Sport Business Association chapter and some intramural sports, he and the friends he made also enjoyed some clean fun.

"I was in a group of about 15 friends who were all from different backgrounds and cultures," he recalls. "We would all swarm the cafeteria every night, and people would look at us wondering why this random group of people was together. Then we would go play volleyball and then be up until 1 a.m. playing Mario Kart."

In 2017, he ultimately attained his bachelor's in sport business with a minor in sales and marketing in the same field.

Kicking His Way to a Sports Career

According to Bazin, the education he received was very much based on the practical concepts of finding gainful employment upon graduating – and even getting experience while still earning his degree.

"The curriculum in my program was based around getting a job or internship right out of college," he says. "This could be in the Saint Leo athletic department, with a minor league baseball team in Maine or any other place where you can start out in this business."

Over spring break during his sophomore year, he had an opportunity to sit down with members of the Minnesota Wild hockey club's staff thanks to a connection through a friend.

"We sat down for an hour and talked about the business. I could have talked for three years straight and would have soaked up everything they were telling me. I jotted down lots of notes and made some connections with them on LinkedIn. This single conversation really helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my career."

While working toward his bachelor's in sport business, Bazin had a few opportunities to get his feet wet – an apprenticeship with the Buccaneers selling tickets and a more formal internship with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets.

"I was able to outsell everyone at Saint Leo and the University of Tampa, which was also participating in the apprenticeship with those Bucs tickets," he says. "To get that position with the Hornets, I had applied to 30 different places, only heard back confirming my application from 10 and then interviewed with about six."

As an intern for an NBA franchise, he assisted in the marketing and sales division, working with sales software and tracking leads.

"I really had no experience, and they basically had to teach me from scratch," he says. "It was a great group that was very knowledgeable and helped me learn a lot."

While staying in Charlotte, he had a roommate who was also interning and briefly got to meet Hornets majority owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan.

"My roommate was in the elevator, and Michael was standing behind him. He actually asked him how his internship was going since he saw the guy's intern badge."

How Hard Work Paid Off

After graduating and while relaxing out on the beach on a Tuesday, Bazin received a phone call from the human resources office with the Bucs.

"The lady who knew me from my apprenticeship selling tickets called me and asked if I was interested in a part-time, temporary role as an executive assistant since the person in this position was out for a little while," he says. "For the first few weeks, they mostly just had me answering the phone."

A full-time e-mail marketing coordinator position then opened up, and Bazin was encouraged to apply.

"After I got this job, I realized that people were now going to be depending on me a lot more," he confides.

His main role is to oversee the production and distribution of e-mail marketing campaigns with the goals of selling tickets to games and retaining fans so that they continue going to games, as well as assisting in other marketing efforts.

"I sometimes have four or five e-mails to oversee at a time, so I have to stay organized and on top of everything."

Even though he's still in the infancy stages of his career, he feels like he's already found a nice home.

"I'm truly happy and in a career I want to be in," he says. "I'm blessed to be in a situation like this. Culture is everything to me, and we really have a family atmosphere here. I can now tell my 10-year-old self who took that little quiz in school that I've accomplished a big goal."

Advice for Sport Business Majors

Based on his experience already, he has some honest advice for sport business majors who are looking to break into the industry.

"People in sports generally work longer hours," he says. "For example, on the first night of the NFL draft this year, I was at the office until 11:30 p.m. Even during my temp job, I'd stay until after 7 a lot. It can be a bit demanding if you aren't used to that schedule. Also, it really helps to have connections to get a job in this field. It's tough if you don't know people who are in it already."

An Upbeat Outlook

Bazin prides himself on having a glass-half-full outlook on the world.

"I'm all about peace, love and positivity," he says. "I try to surround myself with positive people who want to make a positive impact on the world. My goal is to be a leader and a role model for others."

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Kyle Bazin and is used with permission.