According to Rick Braunstein, Director of Media Relations of the Phoenix Coyotes, “the only bad thing you can say about the guy (Adam) is that he's a New York Islanders fan. Working for the NHL, Adam is supposed to be unbiased and yet the guy lives for Islanders hockey," jokes Braunstein.
Adam Schwartz grew up in the Long Island area of New York, and says that by the age of four, he’d already been to every sporting event that Long Island had to offer. “I saw the New York Nets of the ABA, the Cosmos, the Arrows; I even went to the 1976 Olympics.”
Hockey, however, was always Adam’s true love. “At the age of two, I went to my first game with my dad. He always said that people were astonished at how much I knew at such a young age.”
Despite that love for the game, Schwartz did not always see himself working in the NHL Office. “I never thought about it in the way of the business side of it, where I am now. It wasn’t until I went to college, and started to think more about being a lawyer; it was then that I started considering this career.”
“As I got more involved with public address announcing and my creativity, I learned about another area. I was actually thinking about hospital administration which is also a public relations field. After an interview at a university for graduate school, I decided hospital administration was not what I really wanted to do. I decided I wanted to go into sports and the public relations field. I knew I would be very good at it.”
Adam went to Union College in upstate New York and become very involved in their Sports Information Program. “At Union, I created the mascot position for the hockey team and I was actually the pa announcer for the men’s and women’s basketball team. I attended every sporting event; it did not make any difference what it was.”
After graduation, he received an internship with the Nassau Coliseum in their marketing/public relations department. “I learned a lot there (Nassau) over the summer because it wasn’t very busy. There were some concerts and a fair, and I was able to see what goes on in marketing as well as public relations.”
As graduation drew near, Adam started looking for a place to start his career. While working as an intern for Nassau Coliseum, his resume was making the rounds. “When I was getting ready to graduate, I sent my resume to basically every sports team in all the leagues up and down the east coast as well as television networks, including ESPN, HBO, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and the major sporting leagues as well.”
In September of 1994, Adam started an internship with the NHL. He worked with the league during the lockout and the league continued to extend his internship until September of 1995 when he was hired on as a full-time assistant.
The current position leaves no time for boredom as Schwartz finds himself busy pretty much all the time. “On a weekly basis, I am one of the editors of our weekly newsletter which is now electronic. When I first started, I was more of a contributor and then when one individual left the office I took on the newsletter. At the time, we did it via print. Over time, with technology increasing the way it is, we went to an email format which we have now.”
When he is not working on the newsletter, there are still plenty of other things to do. “As events get closer, I work on the credentialing process which includes sending out the applications, making sure the applications are in, enter them in our databases, prepare the credentials themselves, work with creating them to make sure they are legible and meet all of our guidelines by our legal department as well as for security purposes. I send out notifications to all media to let them know if they were approved or not approved, and then as the event gets closer, I am on site and involved in distributing the credentials as well as locker room badges to any of the media guests.”
The Coyotes’ Braunstein says there are few who work harder than Adam. “I've known Adam for 10 years and he's one of the hardest workers in all of the sports industry. Whenever anyone needs something at the League level, they contact the ‘General’ and he always comes through.” The ‘General’? Rick added, "Let’s just say we call him the 'General' because he runs a tight ship."
‘General’ Schwartz says if you are looking to ‘Work in Sports’, internships are the best way to learn. “My first internship with the Nassau Coliseum, I did not get paid. I was living at home at the time but the experience was invaluable. It helped me to see where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.”
Another internship led him to where he is today, and Adam also says you have to be willing to do whatever they ask, regardless of what you think of those duties. “When I began to intern at the NHL, I did the typical internship work. I faxed and copied and ran all over the place. As I worked, they (the NHL) saw my people skills with talking to fans, answering a lot of fan questions and mail.”
Schwartz still does that today, as well as working on a larger scale with the league. “I help, especially when there is a major incident, to create a response from the league. Internships help you grow. When you work in an environment like the NHL Office, even though I am in the public relations field, I work with the marketing department and the corporate marketing department and hockey operations. As an intern, you also get to learn a lot about those different fields.”
Not everyone gets to jump straight to the major leagues, so Adam says don’t be afraid to explore other options. “I would certainly recommend, if you are young enough and willing, taking a job or internship at the minor league level. The experience is fantastic because you get to see all facets of the business. You may work in public relations, but you also work in administration and broadcasting, all different levels.”