For one of the Swarm’s new hires, Amber Pannell, success in the sports industry is all about being observant and building relationships with fans.
“Package what they need by what they desire,” the Senior Account Executive says. “It’s all about discovery, getting to know them and what their desires are and whatever product it is.”
It’s a recipe Amber has followed for years, ever since she graduated from Florida A&M University in ’09 with a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy (she also has a Master’s in Sports Injury Management from Life University).
She worked for Alltel Wireless as a sales representative throughout college, developing her people skills and building relationships throughout the years.
Amber always wanted to work in sports, however. She was active throughout her childhood and collegiate career playing intramural basketball, primarily as a guard and center. So when Amber saw the description for an account executive position with the Atlanta Dream, she realized how that the job description was something she had already been doing.
Without further deliberation, Amber applied for the position, followed up, and was invited to come out to a career fair at State Farm Arena, then known as Phillip’s Arena. She met the director of ticket sales and service for the Atlanta Dream and was put on the sales team as an intern in 2014. Amber was shortly thereafter hired and began her four-year tenure with Atlanta’s elite WNBA franchise.
“There was so much impact within the office to put on a great event for our fans,” Amber recollects. “It’s not just about the game; it’s about the in-game experience, as well.”
The Dream and Swarm have a lot in common. Both feature the world’s best players in their respective sports, small and dedicated front office teams, and a loyal and passionate fanbase.
During her short time with the Swarm so far, that passion from the Swarm’s fanbase is palpable.
“Within the three months that I’ve been here and talking with some of the Season Ticket Holders or people that have been out to a Swarm game, it’s all consistent on how great of a time they had,” she says. “It’s really about that, the energy within the arena, music constantly going. It’s just great.
“That’s what it’s about; we provide entertainment within sports. Those added benefits on top of watching a lacrosse game or a basketball game are important.”
The grind don’t stop | Photo Credit: Shane Wilson
Amber’s watched a few older Swarm games, like Game 2 of the 2017 NLL Cup and loves close games, like that overtime thriller where the Swarm earned its first-ever world championship.
“Even though it’s nerve-wracking, those are fun because that’s when the real competitiveness comes out,” she says.
That game and hearing about Georgia’s close contests with the Toronto Rock remind her when Angel McCoughtry of the Dream nailed a buzzer-beater in 2015 against the Chicago Sky. She had just finished up a seat visit and was at the top of a section when she realized she had left her phone down there.
“Everybody was out of their seats at this point, so I had to wait until the game was over,” Amber remembers. “Sitting there, watching, and McCoughtry hits the game-winning shot. I’m up on top of the section just jumping up and down out of excitement cause we won at that buzzer-beater.”
The crowd erupted in jubilation, engrossed in the last-second action.
“Everybody was either giving someone a hug or high-fiving each other,” she says. “It was definitely a party afterwards. The players, they addressed the crowd and just thanked everybody for coming.”
Amber helped solidify the Dream fanbase during her four years there, but she eventually felt that it was time to move on. While on LinkedIn, she saw the posting for an account executive position with the Swarm, realized the potential for personal growth and opportunity, and applied for the job.
The similarities between her old and new job were apparent early on: small, close-knit front offices with one common goal and an entertaining and unique product. She’ll also see a familiar sight when the crowd is on its feet and raucously celebrating a hard-fought Swarm win at Sting City.
Those common themes have helped Amber greatly since she is new to lacrosse. Her basketball experience has also attributed to her picking up some of the intricacies of box lacrosse, too.
Amber knows there’s still a lot to learn about the Georgia Swarm and box lacrosse. But she’s hit the ground running, always maintaining her consistent goal that she has had ever since she was working for Alltel.
“Building those relationships and creating those memorable experiences for fans. That’s what I thrive off of,” Amber said.
It’ll all be worth it come Dec. 1 when she gets to see a lacrosse game live and meet more Swarm fans in person. Nothing compares to the live experience, and seeing all her hard work pay off in person – the parents and kids performing the Goal Dance after a Swarm goal, a raucous Poulin chant – will impart a strong feeling of satisfaction.
After that, it’s on to the next game, ready to get more smiling faces out to Infinite Energy Arena two weeks later.
Building relationships | Photo Credit: Shane Wilson
Favorite sports player: Michael Jordan.
Favorite Dream game you worked: 2015 Atlanta vs Chicago when Angel McCoughtry hit the game-winning shot with five seconds left on the clock.
Favorite thing to do in ATL: Trying new restaurants, concerts, and outdoor fitness.
Perfect weekend getaway: Anywhere in Florida.
Thing you’re looking forward to the most in the upcoming season: Getting to know the fans and winning a championship!
Season Tickets for the Swarm’s 2018-19 season are On Sale Now! Season Ticket packages include 10 games (nine regular season games and one postseason game) and a handful of VIP benefits. Join Sting City by reserving your membership today by calling 844-4-GASWARM.