Groff's Garage: Opening Weekend Part I
716 Sports Podcast is excited to announce Buffalo Beauts’ Director of Operations, Linda Groff-Mroz, will be contributing her behind-the-scenes perspective on the 2016-17 season.
Welcome to the first edition of Groff’s Garage.
DAY 1 – Friday, October 7 – Buffalo vs. Boston
The day is finally here, the day is finally here! Game day! And holy bananas I feel like I’m going to be sick…my anxiety is trying to get the best of me for sure, but I know that the staff, volunteers and myself are going to knock this out of the park!
The new jerseys are here in Buffalo and already hanging, they look sick!
Merchandise is arriving today, so I know I needed to get to the rink super early to set everything up, make sure the signs are all out, place the volunteers where they need to go and we are golden.
T-minus 4 hours until puck drop – running late, as usual lately, but want to make sure all of my things are in the truck before I take off for downtown. Need to stop at the printers, pickup game day posters and of course all of our banners for the weekend. CHECK and now off to the rink.
The smell of hockey is something that makes me feel like home and always puts me at ease. Merchandise has arrived, as well as the helmets and gloves for the team. Our locker room is set with the new jerseys – it’s like Christmas for sure.
And my running around begins.
I love my interns - they really are a blessing because without them, I’m pretty sure I would end up in a padded room. This year I have a game day intern and when I call, he comes running; it’s actually really nice to have an assistant to help out, especially when it comes to technology, signing in for selling tickets and merchandise – Nick nailed it tonight, for sure! Britney handles our PR and crushed it out of the park. Jami, our social media gal, keeps tweeting up to minute and posting on Facebook and Instagram. She continues to smash it out of the rink.
This is how I explain my job to a lot of people – I’m a party planner, of course there are going to be hiccups, but no one is going to know about the hiccups, except for me. Sorry folks, those secrets are safe with me…there were plenty of hiccups on the first night, but if I spill the beans, then what? You’ll know EVERYTHING about what I do and how I handle things…
GAME TIME – National Anthem singer, check. Puck for ceremonial puck drop – check. Honorary captain of the day – check…it’s go time!
For those of you who have seen a Beauts game, you all know I do NOT stop during the game, I am constantly walking around, taking care of things here and there, making sure the players are taken care of, I make sure I say thank you to those who come. I stop and talk to season ticket holders, the little girls running around the rink, and take care of minor details. But mainly, I walk around to scan the crowd and see the smiles on the fans’ faces – win, lose or draw, our fans are the heartbeat of the Beauts. They are there, no matter what. The crowd gets ME going, so I can only imagine how the team feels hearing them clap and shout.
Krusher, our mascot is a huge part of my day as well. I have to be sure SHE, yes, SHE is taken care of as well. Krusher motivates the crowd and when the kids see her running around the rink, it’s always a great day.
Beauts lose 4 to 1 – unfortunate for us, however, we weren’t shut out at our home opener and for Harrison Browne to score the Beauts first goal of the season and hear his name over the loud speaker, was amazing. Did I see the goal? Of course not, because I was in the tunnel under the stairs making another round the rink.
My sons are at the game and every time I do a lap, the little one catches up to me, “Mommy, I want to go with you”, so of course I walk with Cooper all over the rink and make another lap, bring him back to his dad so I can put out a minor issue that came over my walkie talkie – Cooper refuses to go and clings to me. There is no bargaining with this kid, trust me, I’ve tried. I peel him off of my leg and hand him off to his dad, and speed away. Another lap down and peek on Cooper, he’s miserable, super tired and mad that I walked away. Tough break, I have a job to do.
My boys are ducking out of the game early because they have hockey in the morning, hug and kisses to both of them, “Mommy I want to stay with you” Cooper says again. Heart-wrenching, but I did let him know I would be at his practice in the morning.
Man, my feet are killing me! My night isn’t over yet. I have to break down the ticket sales, 50/50 sales, chuck a puck sales, merchandise sales, take care of all the ticket cash boxes and iPads, pack up merchandise (after it’s inventoried), make copy of the merchandise count and place it in the merch envelope. Interns were great doing the count and putting everything away. All electronics are put away and locked.
My feet are brutal and I chose my shoes wisely because I knew how much I was going to be running around.
Finally, walk through the locker room, collect the team’s snack bags, grab my bags and head out to my truck to drop everything off before I head down to 716 for my traditional post game drink and nachos with coaches and Krusher.
1am, I’m finally home and ready to pass out. My mind is restless, I can’t fall asleep, I just keep running over the things from today that I could do better for the next game, which is 18 hours – Boston takes on New York in my building, which means it is just as much my game as it is theirs.
The Buffalo Beauts host the Connecticut Whale on October 23 at 330 pm. Tickets are available at NWHL.zone, or tune in to the stream hear 716 Sports Podcast on the call.