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#TGW: Beyond the Experience

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

Mary Claire Solomon took a break last week, sort of, from running track and cross country to work at the Super Bowl Experience, and the junior industrial engineering major may have found a profession after breaking a leg for real.

And now she’s another example of how Georgia Tech can help its students set up their lives through connections found at the Institute.

Some background is required.

Solomon had a fine freshman year for the Yellow Jackets while running in the top five all fall with the cross country team in the fall of 2017 before a solid spring on the indoor and outdoor tracks in ‘17 and another spin over dirt trails that fall.

And then, one of her legs cracked over the holiday season. It was a little crack, a stress fracture in a lower leg, yet it was enough to shut down the process of running for the track spring of ‘18 and the following cross country season.

With a whole lot of new time on her feet, which quickly drove her a little mad, Solomon found a new way to get moving. She looked at the e-mail that assistant coach Becky Megesi sent out mentioning that the Tech ticket department was looking for help, and the lean young lady from John’s Creek signed up to work.

“I had to find some other way to devote my energy and time, so I started working as much as I could in the Georgia Tech ticket office, and that led to working at the box office [at the Super Bowl experience],” she said. “I work selling tickets for all sports, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball.”

Working in the Tech ticket office with Bobby Holman, David White, Devon Hathaway, Mike Castle, Laura Dinger and others opened a door.

They worked with Atlanta United when the new soccer team spent the early part of its inaugural season in 2017 playing in Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium before moving to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The United’s ticket people are the Atlanta Falcons’ ticket people, which is to say the Mercedes-Benz ticket people, or to be more specific the ticket people for the host team, the Falcons. And the Super Bowl Experience was run by a combination of the host team, the Falcons, and the NFL.

And they needed people to help run their shows.

So, Solomon landed in a ticket booth in the Georgia World Congress Center, and she loved it.

“I was selling tickets for the Super Bowl Experience in this giant room with everything football, like the College Football Hall of Fame but the NFL, but a lot more interactive. You could time yourself in the three-cone drill, or the 40-yard dash.

“I worked three days. It was just over 20 hours, and I sold just over $1,900 an hour.”

So what’s this have to do with a potential career choice?

Solomon has been fascinated not only by her interactions with ticket buyers, but with the process of selling tickets. And, for that matter, she’s fascinated by the back stories of sport.

Add the fact that Solomon works a few days a week for the Tech men’s basketball team stuffing recruiting envelopes and so forth, and there’s a trail here.

Tech assistant basketball coach Eric Reveno is big on analytics, on numbers, and so is Solomon. That stuff fascinates her.

So, she’s looking ahead – far, far ahead as she anticipates graduating in 2021 – at combining her love for numbers with a fancy for sport.

“Working the ticket office and working with basketball has shown me behind-the-scenes parts of athletics that I never knew existed, and I really want to keep learning about it and it’s made me want to work in athletics,” Solomon said.

“With my major, it’s all about efficiency, so I guess there’s a lot in statistics that you can do in sports analytics and ticketing analytics and analyzing tickets prices and what’s the maximum you can charge to maximize revenue and maximize the number of people who come to games.”

Solomon resumed serious running in December. She’s not competing in the indoor track season, and aims to jump into the outdoor season in March, where the Blessed Trinity graduate is most likely to compete in the 1,500-meter run.

There are some unknowns, but she’s positive that she treasured her experience working at the Super Bowl Experience because it opened her eyes to possibilities.

“It was really cool because I got to learn a new ticketing system from the one we have at Georgia Tech and I got to work with a lot of great people,” she said. “If I could have worked more hours, I would have because I had such a great time.”




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