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For most people, hockey is a sport played on ice during the winter.
Not for Devin Pacheco. For the 2007 UW-Superior graduate, hockey is a year-round sport that takes him to streets, schoolyards, backyards - and, yes, sometimes ice rinks -- all over New York City and its suburbs.
Pacheco is field marketing and fan development coordinator for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. Working out of his office in the world-famous Madison Square Garden, he's responsible for keeping the Rangers brand in front of New York City's rabid hockey fans.
"My job is to build up the game of hockey, and to expose young kids to hockey and get them to be fans for life," Pacheco told UW-Superior marketing students during a visit to campus Sept. 3.
Earned key experience at UW-Superior
How Pacheco landed his job with the Rangers can be traced back to his days at UW-Superior.
When UW-Superior hosted the NCAA Division III Frozen Four national hockey tournament in 2007, Athletic Director Steve Nelson handed Pacheco a golden opportunity to work closely with the NCAA by serving as local host to the Manhattanville College team, one of the four contestants. Hosts were on duty around the clock to arrange meals, tours or anything else their team needed.
Officials at Manhattanville College were so impressed with Pacheco's work that they offered to pay his tuition for graduate school if he would work with the college's hockey team.
While in graduate school at Manhattanville -- located just north of New York City -- Pacheco landed an internship with the New York Rangers. He worked from 5:30 to 11 a.m. with the Rangers, then returned to campus to work until 11 p.m. The grueling hours paid off a month after graduation when he received a job offer from the Rangers.
Nelson knew Pacheco from his work as a student-athletic and Athletic Office intern, and was confident he could do the work. "He seemed interested in the business. His interest equated to hard work. I'm glad it opened some doors for him," Nelson said.
Taking the 'experience' on the road
A big part of his job with the Rangers is, as Pacheco describes it, taking the "Madison Square Garden experience" to fans around the sprawling metro area. To do that, he manages the Rangers Road Tour, which takes Ranger-branded hockey events to local fairs, festivals, charity events and private parties all over the New York metro area. This year that amounted to 164 events along with 41 Ranger home games.
No event is too big or too small. Pacheco recounted a recent example when the Road Tour crew took part in the Tribeca Film Fest attended by 300,000 people. The crew occupied a block-long stretch of street with a street hockey game, a slapshot booth and other activities. The next day, Pacheco and his team worked a Bar Mitzvah attended by15 children.
Clinics, camps and special programs
That's not all. The Road Tour crew conducts street hockey clinics at schools. At the end of the day, they leave behind all the equipment - an important bonus for schools in low-income neighborhoods where most kids can't afford their own gear. Pacheco also works with youth hockey camps and adult hockey games held in the Garden after Ranger games. Another responsibiilty is working with an NHL program that offers sled hockey for people with disabilities, a program to bring ice hockey to children in a low-income area, and "special hockey" for children with cognitive disabilities.
The schedule keeps Pacheco busy. As he put it, "I'm not really at my desk all that often."
UW-Superior provided excellent preparation
At UW-Superior, Pacheco majored in communicating arts and minored in sport management. He said his college education provided strong preparation for the work he's doing today.
"The experience (at UW-Superior) was above and beyond what I expected to come away with," he said. "The personal touch here was phenomenal."
Read more Superior Alumni profiles.
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