Black History Month Employee Feature: Meet Ryan Pope

by Quinton Wash

Throughout the month of February, Hornets.com will be highlighting employees across different departments within the organization in celebration of Black History Month.

Describe what you do with the Charlotte Hornets organization.

“My official title is Account Manager with Membership Services. In my position, I manage a book of season ticket holders. I maintain relationships with them to ensure that all of their needs are met and to make it a special night for them and their guest. This may include ticket trades, hosting guests, or celebrating an event of any kind; we aim to make it a special night. Overall, it’s about providing a great experience throughout the entire season. It’s ultimately my responsibility to optimize the experience so they have a desire to return during the next season. A large part of it is interacting with fans, building those relationships to find out their interests in our products so that they want to come to more games.”

What experience(s) have had the most significant impact on your career in sports?

“It’s been really great to get in a space like this with the Hornets organization. I wasn’t a person that had a Sports Management Degree or background. I really came to this organization with my eyes open and wanting to be a sponge. What made me more grateful and proud to be in an organization and a league like this was around the time of the events that led to George Floyd’s death and when the NBA was playing in the Bubble. Having people that looked like me standing up for people like me who may not have the voice to express what they were going through on a day-to-day basis was really impactful.”

“At the end of the day, those players in the Bubble maintained their professionalism and went to work daily. However, they were heroes in their own regard, although a lot of people didn’t necessarily look at them that way because they were simply playing basketball. They were away from their families, friends and communities, while trying to keep their mental health sane and being engulfed personally in everything that had been happening around the world.”

What does Black History Month mean to you?

“It gives me the time to celebrate all the things that Black creators and artists have done throughout this entire country. It’s not about an absence of another people’s history or another race’s history. This time gives us the chance to celebrate the little things that we see on a day-to-day basis that have been created by Black people. It’s an opportunity for celebration and it’s an opportunity to come together as a group of people, especially in a time like this when there’s so much inequality going on. We’re in a pandemic and a lot of people have lost their lives. Just being able to come together and celebrate the little things and not take things for granted is probably what I like the most about Black History Month.”

How do you see yourself as a role model in the Black community?

“For me personally, you can’t really term yourself as a role model. Some people might not term the things that you do as suitable for them. I feel like a role model is something that has to be coined by somebody else. To me, I just try to be a positive member of the Black community and as genuine as possible. A lot of people like to hold things back and not give their whole selves or be truthful and honest with people. It’s not necessarily about being blunt, but being genuine and showing empathy when needed or always being able to reach a hand out for support. That’s why I enjoy various volunteer opportunities, with this organization, to go into the Charlotte area and try to make a difference, any way I can.  I feel like that’s my biggest asset to the Black community.”

Who are the most influential Black role models in your life?

“Off the top, my dad Anthony Pope. He grew up in a very small town in Mississippi with a bunch of brothers and sisters and was the one thought of as the ‘lost cause.’ He went to the military, then enrolled in college, married my mom, got a chance to travel the world and became very cultured. Just being able to see the things he’s gone through throughout his life, where he is now and everything he’s taught me as well has been a big aspect of my life.”

“Some other ones also – I really love LeBron James and not even just as a basketball player overall, but as a person. We’re in a time where people are telling other people to, ‘Shut up and dribble,’ and he doesn’t really go for that. He’s okay with being on the outside looking in when it comes to situations that social media can engulf you with. Muhammad Ali is still highly respected. He was seen as a role model and an influential figure for me. I’m a big Will Smith fan, too. I think he’s a great Black role model as well.”

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