By Mark Adam
From the Shark Tank in San Jose to the sidelines of the New York Giants, in fields spanning medicine, accounting, marketing and management, Siena alumni have made their mark in the sports industry.
Dr. Dean Filion ’87
Filion has been to three Super Bowls as a member of the New York Giants medical staff. He is an orthopedic rehabilitation doctor at his New Jersey Spine and Sports Medicine practice and, for the past 15 years, he has served as a consulting physician for Big Blue. Through the years he has helped the Giants in a number of areas, including treating players, evaluating draftees at the combine and providing other medical services. He also works with Felician College, Bloomfield College and three local high schools.
Filion played sports his entire life and was a three-sport athlete at Ballston Spa High School, but sustained injuries that disrupted his career. At Siena, Filion was a pre-medical student and biology major under Ed LaRow ’59, Ph.D. His passion for sports and his premed coursework led him to want to become a team doctor or work in the sports medicine field. Filion says that Siena’s program was so rigorous that medical school actually seemed easier.
“I thought it would be good to be on the other side of the training table instead of being hurt all the time,” he said.
After “pestering” a medical school colleague for a job, Filion was invited to join his practice in New Jersey and worked as a team physician for the New Jersey Nets. At that time the practice served as medical consultants to the Giants and Filion has been involved with the team ever since.
Filion attributes the Giants’ success over the years to leadership, stability and respect for tradition.
“There’s very little turnover, from the ball boys to the secretaries to the medical staff,” he said. “A lot of the gentlemen I’ve worked with and essentially trained under have been there anywhere from 30 to 40 years.”
Each Wednesday, Filion assists Dr. Russell Warren, the Giants’ head physician, with weekly injury consults to determine players’ status for the upcoming game. The training room can be busy or slow, and sometimes it depends on how good a season the team is having, Filion says. He remembers canceling the weekly consult in some of the Super Bowl-winning years because everyone was healthy.
In the end, whether it’s the New York Giants or a local high school team, it’s about helping athletes get back in the game.
“It’s fun to see them getting better,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s seeing their success in the newspapers and feeling like you have a little part in their outcomes on the field.”
Kelly Pangburn Morrissey ’03
Go to any live sporting event covered by ESPN and there’s a good chance Morrissey has played a part in its planning. Since 2009, she has worked behind the scenes as ESPN’s global security remote event manager, overseeing security at gatherings like College Gameday, the ESPYs and Monday Night Football. Her six-person team is responsible for the safety of ESPN talent, staff and equipment at these venues. Bigger events like the Super Bowl require a series of meetings and collaboration between ESPN and other networks, the host site and local law enforcement.
For each occasion, Morrissey coordinates with the appropriate officials to implement security plans.
Her current position is just one stop on a fascinating career path. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Siena College and then attended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 16-week academy in Quantico, Va. Morrissey says that federal agencies look for useful skills like language proficiency and accounting. She worked as a federal agent for almost five years in Los Angeles and brought in high-level drug cases where she seized millions of dollars worth of narcotics that led to state and federal arrests.
“When you get into a case, you follow the money,” Morrissey said. “Because I had that accounting background I had the right mindset.”
Shortly after Morrissey’s husband and college sweetheart Paul Morrissey ’03 was hired as an accountant at ESPN, she left the DEA when she was unable to obtain a transfer back East. That led her to ESPN as well.
“I love what I’m doing here,” she said.
Morrissey enjoys working on a myriad of sporting events, especially lively ones like College Gameday, which attracts throngs of cheering college students.
“It’s fun because it’s on a college campus and the students are so unpredictable,” she said. “They do the things that I remember doing and I look back now and say, ‘Why did I do that?’”
On December 7, 2012, Morrissey returned to the Capital Region when she was inducted into Siena’s Athletic Hall of Fame. She was a four-year letter winner on the swim team and still holds the school record in the 1,650 freestyle event (17:21.43).
Charlie Faas ’82
Another accounting major who’s made it big in the sports industry is Charlie Faas, the chief financial officer and executive vice president of Sharks Sports and Entertainment. Since 2003, he has done all the usual accounting tasks like financial modeling, forecasting and budgeting, except he’s done them for an NHL team, the San Jose Sharks; San Jose’s arena, HP Pavilion; three different ice centers; a minor league hockey team, the Worcester Sharks (Mass.) and two ATP tennis tournaments. He also helped build the mixed martial arts company Strikeforce before it was sold to UFC in 2011.
“I’ve gotten an opportunity to do some fun, cool stuff along with the base of accounting,” Faas said. Faas was hired by IBM right out of Siena College. He spent 13 years with the company, relocating to San Jose about 10 years into that job when IBM moved its headquarters. He became CFO of a public company and started volunteering for the San Jose Sports Authority, which put together nonprofit community events. He also founded the Bay Area After-School All-Stars, which provides extracurricular activities for kids who cannot afford them. That community service led to Faas’ job with the Sharks and he credits the volunteering to what he learned at Siena.
“If you do things because it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for your community and it’s the right thing for your area, God’s going to come back and bless you,” Faas said.
Faas stays busy, as he always has. Aside from serving as CFO, he teaches accounting and budgeting in the University of San Francisco’s sports management masters program, vice-chairs the Sharks Foundation, which financially supports the community, and attends his children’s extracurricular activities.
In March 2012, he hosted a group of Siena alumni including President Fr. Kevin Mullen ’75, O.F.M., Ph.D., at a San Jose Sharks game. A lot of what Faas talks about in his career and his personal life was shaped by Siena.
“It’s not just about education,” he said of his alma mater. “It’s about community. It’s about family. It’s about everything in your life coming together.”
Anthony Marino ’97
One weekend each college basketball season, coaches trade in their dress shoes and prowl the sidelines in suits and sneakers. This is the most recognizable scene of Coaches vs. Cancer, which is a part of the American Cancer Society and which partners with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Since its inception in 1993, Coaches vs. Cancer has raised almost $90 million through fundraisers like black tie galas, golf outings and other events featuring college basketball coaches.
Marino is the division director of Coaches vs. Cancer. In his current role, he is responsible for planning events, collaborating with coaches and working with corporations in New York and New Jersey.
“It’s very unique that you can have a position that combines two things that you’re so passionate about,” Marino said.
Marino helped generate some media buzz in September when he coordinated the “Over the Edge” fundraising event with Rutgers coach Mike Rice. Rice rappelled down a 47-story building in Jersey City, N.J., and brought in more than $250,000 to Coaches vs. Cancer.
“It proves that some of these coaches will do anything for us,” Marino said.
Marino has spent the last seven years with the American Cancer Society. Before that, he worked at the Pepsi Arena (now the Times Union Center) overseeing marketing, promotions and corporate sponsorships. He credits two college internships for getting his career started. One was in Siena’s sports information office and the other was at the Pepsi Arena.
“I knew that sports was something that I really wanted to get involved with,” Marino said.
As a student, Marino was very engaged in campus life. He served as president of the Student Events Board (SEB) and worked at the WVCR radio station for four years. He is still close to people in the athletics department and describes the College as a “tight-knit community.” The personal relationships Marino formed at Siena have been invaluable.
“Those alumni relationships, you really can’t explain how beneficial they are,” he said.
Now with his work in Coaches vs. Cancer, Siena continues to be supportive. Director of Athletics John D’Argenio, former men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery and current head coach Mitch Buonaguro have all made a commitment to helping Coaches vs. Cancer, Marino says. Buonaguro and his wife Suzin hosted the Capital Region’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer Basket Ball in November.
“It’s nice when you go back to your alma mater and ask them to step up and they say, ‘No problem. Whatever you need,’” Marino said.
Alumni in Action
Below is a list of graduates who have secured careers in the sports industry.
John Leonard ’64 Owner, NBA D League, Maine
Don Lucarelli ’75 Partner, Starlight Racing
Jack Gerien ’76, Senior Director / Information Technology, National Hockey League
Jean L. Willis ’80 Producer, YES Network
Jim Howard ’84 Scout, Baltimore Orioles
Brian Jennings ’85 Executive VP/Marketing, NHL
John Battaglino ’86 Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach, UAlbany
Matt Brady ’87 Head Men’s Basketball Coach, James Madison University
Craig Turnbull ’87 Executive VP/Marketing, Olympia Entertainment
Francis Elia ’88 Sports Information Director, SUNY Cortland
Timothy Ford ’90 Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Yale University
Marc Brown ’91 Head Basketball Coach, New Jersey City University
Steve Karbowski ’94 Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Siena College
Tony G. Weaver ’94, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Sport and Event Management, Elon University
Kristin Bernert ’96 Suite Sales, Madison Square Garden
Mike S. Broeker ’97 Deputy Director of Athletics, Marquette University
Chris Convoy ’96 Major League Baseball Umpire
Jason Rich ’98 Assistant AD/ Communications, Siena College
Jeremiah Maher ’99 Assistant AD, Syracuse University
Brett Cerrati ’01, Athletic Director, Whitin Community Center
Carmen Maciariello ’01, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Boston University
Mary Buckheit ’02 Communications and Marketing, Amateur Sports Alliance of North America
Don Brooks ’03 Corporate Outreach Coordinator, ESPN
Todd Donovan ’03 Major League Baseball Scout-National Crosschecker, Arizona Diamondbacks
Nicole (Mayer) Cipolla ’03 Marketing and Communications Manager, Dow Lohnes PLLC-Sports and Entertainment
Prosper Karangwa ’03 Scout, Orlando Magic
Stephen Dombroski ’04 Assistant AD/Communications and Marketing, Manhattan College
Hailey Sweeney Towne ’04 Landscape Architect, DA Hogan
John Palmeri ’05 Sports Information Director, BBL Hospitality
Ken Grant ’06 Assistant AD/Business Affairs, Siena College
David Starin ’06, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Matt Restivo ’07 Web Designer, ESPN
Laura Menges ’08 Athletic Marketing Manager, Siena College
Sarah Mayer ’09 Tennis Professional, Midtown Athletic Club Chicago
Rory Goulding ’10 Production Assistant/Sports Researcher, Football Night in America at NBCUniversal, Inc.
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