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Meet the Magic Staff: Mike Izzo and Melissa Miller

August 25, 2011

ORLANDO -- In a brand new feature on OrlandoMagic.com, we will go behind the scenes and learn more about those who help this franchise flourish on a daily basis.

In this edition, we check in with Mike Izzo and Melissa Miller, another two key members of the organization.

As the Administrative Services Coordinator, some of Izzo's responsibilities include providing administrative office support to “the team behind the team,” resolving any issues/needs of the office staff generally within the realm of: facility/furniture maintenance/needs, office planning, coordinating housekeeping, parking, and storage needs, requisitioning company collateral, providing general office supplies, and anything else a staff member needs in order to successfully perform their job role.

As the Assistant Brand Manager, Miller mainly works on advertising and branding. With advertising, she places the organization's external media buys for print, radio, TV, outdoor and online as well as internal advertising such as collateral pieces, promotional videos, game day playbill and digital signage. Besides purchasing and scheduling the advertising, she also gets to work on the creative that is run in each medium. Since her role is wide-ranging, Miller gets to work with many different departments to create an ad, commercial, video, signage or whatever is needed. With branding, the Magic ensure that each creative piece or place where their logo is used represents their brand properly.


1) What has been your most memorable experience since you started working for the Magic?

RESPONSE

Izzo
Overall, the 2009 Playoffs was a phenomenal ride. From watching the team fight its way into Finals to the heightened excitement, pride, and unity throughout Orlando, it was a natural high. The momentum was just indescribable… unless you were a part of it! But for me, my most memorable experience – bar none – was the staff trip to Game 1 of the 2009 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. We had been working so hard to support the team from the moment we had been eliminated from the 2008 playoffs – preparing for the draft, breaking ground on the new Amway Center, getting ready for the new season, dealing with the emotional roller coaster of the regular season, laying out t-shirts on all 17,461 Amway Arena seats for our fans for every home game, and stepping up our game for the increased media coverage/exposure that came with the progression into each deeper round of the playoffs – that it was such an amazing surprise when we were told we were going to L.A.

I don’t think any of us will forget the looks on the faces of the Lakers’ faithful when, seemingly out of nowhere, 200 or so Magic staff stepped off the buses and marched our way into the Staples Center chanting and yelling at the top of our lungs “Let’s go Magic!” and “Beat L.A.!” We were psyched and we made our presence known! The excitement, the atmosphere was just electric. We had such devoted and passionate fans from two world-class sports organizations setting the tone and building the anticipation of tip-off to an intense frenzy. Unfortunately, the game (nor the series) turned out how we’d have liked, but I am forever thankful and certainly will never forget my first trip to Los Angeles to see, in person, Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals.

Miller
My most memorable experience has been the road to the 2009 Finals and seeing our hard work pay off. From beating the Celtics when we were down, winning the Eastern Conference Finals in Orlando against Cleveland, to flying to LA for Game 1 and then seeing the city ignite for the Finals, it was such an amazing experience that I hope to see again soon!




2) What is the best aspect about working for the Magic?

RESPONSE

Izzo
I have two favorite aspects about working for the Magic but they are sort of related. Firstly, the Magic is a family and it starts with the ownership. We are all treated with respect, valued, and truly cared for/about by each other. We are given the resources and support to succeed as well as the freedom to fail and learn. We all ride the momentum when the team is doing well, but we all also get crushed when the team does. Such is the life of a pro sports team, and we’re all in it together!

This leads me to my second favorite aspect… As a family, you support each other; and that is a lot of what my job is. I enjoy being the go-to guy for anything/everything the staff needs no matter how big or how small. I like meeting new hires and, hence, being able to know who virtually every employee is (and hopefully, they’ll have a need to need to know me). I love to help people and fix problems and this job allows me to do that.

Miller
I may be biased since I haven’t worked for another sports team, but the Magic are definitely one of the best organizations to work for in general! Our ownership is fantastic, and it is great to work with such smart and talented people. I have always loved basketball, so it is a joy to be able to also work for something I am passionate about.




3) If you could play any sport professionally, what sport would it be and what position would you want to play?

RESPONSE

Izzo
I was born on Long Island in New York so hockey was ingrained in me early; as an infant/toddler I would sit with both my grandfathers for hours watching the New York Islanders’ games (how did I NOT grow up to be an Islander fan?!). I had a best friend who got me into playing street hockey but, ironically, I never actually ice skated let alone played ice hockey until my family moved to Florida and I was in middle school. After a few years, the local rink shut down and I had to switch to roller hockey, where most of my friends from school played anyway. I also eventually got a chance to play on the same team as my younger brother which meant a lot to me. Upon moving to Orlando to attend UCF, I was introduced to the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den which allowed the perfect opportunity to return to the ice in the adult rec leagues.

So there is no doubt in my mind that if I could play any sport professionally, it would be ice hockey in the National Hockey League. Honestly, for the first 17 years of my life, I was convinced that was my future… and then reality set in. But I digress. Hypothetically speaking, I’d be a starting center or left wing, drafted in the first round by the New York Rangers and after winning three or four Stanley Cups over eight years, I’d be traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning where I’d end my career after ultimately helping them to four or five Cups of their own.

Miller
In fourth grade we had to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I said I wanted to be the first female baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals. At that point in my life, I was still playing softball. The Cardinals have always been my favorite baseball team and Ozzie Smith my favorite player. I had wanted to play shortstop like him and even said I would live in Florida in the offseason. I guess that part came true!




4) Growing up, who was your favorite professional athlete?

RESPONSE

Izzo
As a hockey fan, I grew up idolizing Wayne Gretzky. Although he was nearly done annihilating the NHL record books by the time I was cognizant of and really started to follow his career, I still admired the grace, humility, and eerie sixth sense with which he played the game. He was a star but he was modest in everything he did, and that resonated with me. He was always a student of the game as well – taking on new challenges… from playing, to playing for new teams, to coaching, to assembling successful national/Olympic teams – he always knew there could be more to learn.

Miller
Being from Illinois and growing up with the Bulls, Michael Jordan was definitely my favorite. Basketball has always been my favorite sport, and I think he is still the best I've been able to watch. I used to save all the newspaper clippings about their championship runs. I wish I had actually made a scrapbook with those!




5) What advice would you give to others who hope to one day work for a professional sports organization?

RESPONSE

Izzo
Stay connected. Network. Meet people who work for an organization, any organization, or even a business associated with a sports organization; even if it’s not THE organization you ultimately want to work for – it’s a foot in the door to the industry and you never know where that door could lead you. Think of it as a building block. To that end, know that once you have that foot in the door, it will still take a lot of hard work, dedication, and often long hours in order to earn yourself that dream job. Stay humble because there are always people who would love to have your position. It’s a lot of hard work, sure, but it’s also a tremendous amount of fun and incredibly rewarding to be a part of something that brings so much joy and passion to so many people. And if you have fun at your job, how could you even consider it work!

Miller
I would tell someone to get involved early-college athletic departments, an internship or working game days for a minor league or professional team. You can never have too much experience! Also, if you do land one of those experiences, take advantage of getting to know your co-workers and leadership. Most people started out in those positions and are willing to give you advice. It is interesting to hear their stories as have all taken different paths to get to where they are today.