As a student growing up in Williamstown, the world of sports was one avenue Matt Kiger could understand numbers and comprehend math terminology.
The two went hand-in-hand and encouraged Kiger to pursue a career in sports. Recently, he landed a position with inside sales for Spurs Sports and Entertainment based in San Antonio, Texas. Spurs Sports and Entertainment owns and operates the Spurs' NBA ballclub, the AHL Rampage, the WNBA Silver Stars, and the NBA Development League Austin Toros.
"This is not a glamour job - there will be long hours and not great pay, but it will be an easier way to get into the business than what I was trying to do all summer," Kiger said. "I can go many directions with this. It depends where the wind blows."
Since graduating from the University of Mount Union last spring, a multitude of doors had been closed on Kiger in terms of job openings. The list of job interviews sounds like a Who's Who of professional sports. He interviewed with the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, Indiana Pacers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats.
And that doesn't include a Skype interview conducted with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Take into account all the minor league franchises, and Kiger applied with more than 30 organizations. He has a map to document his travels.
"I was getting frustrated because I knew I could do the job," Kiger said. "In school, I did well doing my one-on-one interviews. On some of the finals, professors would get the alumni to work with you. That experience was phenomenal."
While friends at Mount Union were landing internships, Kiger opted to stay with the Purple Raiders' basketball program. The Sports Business major appeared in at least 24 games in each of his four seasons. He earned a full-time starting role during his senior year, and averaged 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 65.5 percent from the field.
In 2013, he was named to the Ohio Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team.
"When I was in high school, I chose Mount Union not because of basketball - rather because of their sports business major," said Kiger, who scored 1,000 points during his career with Williamstown High School.
After college graduation, Kiger returned to live at home with his parents (Doug and Diane) in Williamstown and picked up a side job as a merchandiser for Budweiser to help pay the bills.
Following a phone and Skype interview with Spurs Sports and Entertainment, Kiger received the good news that he was headed for a full-time position in San Antonio. Opening Day for his new career begins Feb. 3.
"I worked at Budweiser and a couple of basketball camps at the Elite Sports Center and for (Williamstown boys basketball coach) Scott Sauro, so hearing the news from San Antonio was a big weight off my shoulders," Kiger said. "Now I know where I am headed."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org