Working in Sport with my Stage Management degree

The Women’s Champions League Final, F1 British Grand Prix and the World Gymnastics Championships are all events I've worked on thanks to my Stage Management degree at BCU.

My typical day 

My responsibilities differ depending on what sport I am working on and which part of the event I am delivering. For example, when working on the gymnastics, I was delivering the athlete entries, whereas at football matches I am usually on the pitch organising and delivering the large banners that can be seen as the players enter the pitch before the match.

The size of the job can determine how much preparation goes into the event. For most match days I turn up on the day, brief and rehearse the volunteers for a few hours and then go out onto the pitch before kick-off to deliver the show. However, at the Women’s Champions League Final, we had a week’s worth of rehearsal leading up to the match as the opening ceremony included dancers as well as around seventy banner volunteers.

During the week leading up to the match I facilitated the rehearsal process, helping the creative team wherever I was needed. This mainly included building and maintaining props, playing the music, creating signage so the rehearsal space was easily accessible, marking out the rehearsal pitch with cones and making sure that all the dancers and volunteers were looked after. At the F1 British Grand Prix my role was completely different as I was floor managing a stage with two presenters that held panels, daily round ups, competitions and more that was delivered to a crowd and a camera.

At an event like this I tend to use a lot of the training I gained from university as I have cues that I need to hit that I take from the show caller. Although the cues are slightly different, like counting in and out the presenters and making sure they throw over to the correct next segment, the training I received has been extremely beneficial to achieve this.

Getting into the sector

I ended up working in sporting events by chance. Through the connections I made during my third-year work placement, I met one of the sports presentation leads at the company I work with. I didn’t know at the time that he worked in sport or that I would end up working with him. We kept in contact after my placement ended and I was subsequently asked to join him for the World Gymnastics Championships a few months later, when he realised he needed more floor managers. After that, I was asked back again and I now work with them on a regular basis on a different variety of events that they produce.

What I’ve learnt

Something I have taken from my course and have used a lot on events is how to use comms correctly and comms etiquette. Communication is one of the most important parts of any job that I do, so knowing the correct way to use any comms system and how to read the situation as to when I should speak or not is a vital part of information that I use frequently.

I didn’t realise how many different roles you could go into with a Stage Management degree. I was certain that I wanted to go into theatre as it seemed like the only option, but the course opened my eyes to all of the different career paths I could go down. There are endless possibilities where stage managers are used, in and outside of sport.  

I’ve also learnt to quickly adapt to new working styles whilst making sure it didn’t slow me down. For example, during my second year whilst I was on my design allocation, I was sourcing costumes and building sets for three different shows at the same time. I was in constant communication between three different directors and their stage management teams, keeping up to date with any new information and feeding back to them all updates. This fast-paced environment gave me the skills and confidence to incorporate everything I’ve learnt and use them to benefit me in my career path. Working in different events one after the other with new teams of people each time requires me to think back to my time at university and combine these skills. 

BA (Hons) Stage Management graduate

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