HSG program is entering its second year, will allow four participants to work with various departments with the Cleveland Browns and Columbus Crew
By Anthony Poisal, ClevelandBrowns.com Staff Writer
The Crew are pleased to welcome four new fellows to the Haslam Sports Group as part of Year 2 of the HSG Diversity and Opportunity Fellowship Program.
Mason Wilfong from University of North Carolina, Caroline Brega from Miami University, Ryan Parra from University of North Texas and Lydia Jules from Howard University will all join HSG and work in various departments with both the Browns and Columbus Crew organizations. These individuals were selected based on a nationwide search, in collaboration with multiple universities, as well as executives from both the Browns and Crew who assisted with program development and recruiting efforts.
“I feel like this is really a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially in the sports industry,” Wilfong said. “It’s kind of hard to find these entry-level opportunities and get your foot in the door, so when I found out they selected me, I was just super happy and thankful for the opportunity.”
HSG created the fellowship last year to improve the pipeline for diverse talent into the sports industry, and it proved to be a success as all fellows landed full-time jobs upon completion of the program. The new batch of fellows will follow a similar plan this year and will be able to move from department to department as they wish, with opportunities ranging from Administration, Marketing, Operations, Sales and other areas.
“I love that because as a recent grad or new professional, I think it’s a lot to ask of them to know exactly what you want to do,” Jules said. “Being able to get a taste of these different departments within this organization, especially within sports, I think it’s going to allow me to learn so much. Not just hands-on, but also to pick the brains of different people in these different departments.”
“At the Haslam Sports Group, I could tell that I wasn’t just going to be another person working in their offices,” Brega said. “I was going to be able to have an impact the day I got there, and that’s what drew me to accepting this offer.”
It’s the type of opportunity not all professional sports teams provide — a chance for a group of exclusively minority candidates to work with top executives on the business side of a front office. They’ll each have the chance to work with two teams in different sports, too, with the plan for each fellow to switch between Cleveland and Columbus after five months.
“What really sold it was how HSG was willing to provide for people who come from different backgrounds,” Parra said. “For them to do this much for us fellows is unheard of, and I’ll be grateful forever for this opportunity.”