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Relationship building and work ethic. That was the theme of the day at the 15th Annual Partners in Sports Fall Conference held Oct. 19 in the Wolf-Kaplan Room at Neyland Stadium. More than 150 students, alumni and guests attended the event to hear from four incredibly insightful speakers.

Janeen Lalik started the morning discussing her career journey from ticket office intern with the Detroit Pistons to Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Initiatives with Tennessee Athletics. She emphasized the importance of creating a positive work environment and being committed to your career. But the ability to develop and maintain relationships are key to her professional success.

“That’s what is the most meaningful to me, the relationships…When you find great people, stay in touch,” Lalik said.

Our own Chris Burton (B.S. 2002, M.S. 2004) shared his perspective of the Stanley Cup Finals journey of the Nashville Predators. Chris has been a long-time employee of the Predators and being able to see the success of the team and the incredible fan support was an amazing experience. He recalled how challenging it was for the Predators when they first relocated to Nashville 20 years ago. The determination of the ownership group and the staff has resulted in the creation of Smashville.

Burton is now the Director of Premium Seating for the Predators and stressed the importance of listening to fans and being willing to adapt to the needs of the fans.

Chad Speck, Partner/President of Allegiant Athletic Agency, shared his story of deciding to pursue a career in athlete representation and the early struggles of trying to be successful in the business. Building relationships with NFL decision-makers and clients has been the key to his and his agency’s success.

Dan Leibovitz has held a variety of positions during his career but they have one commonality – basketball. Basketball is his passion and he has made it his career. He has held positions as assistant coaches in both the NCAA and NBA as well as a head coach in the NCAA. He is currently the Associate Commissioner of Men’s Basketball for the Southeastern Conference.

The key to his success – “I just put my head down and worked.” He reiterated people noticed his work ethic and were willing to be supportive of him when he was pursuing professional opportunities.

All-in-all, another a great event hosted by Partners Sports. Emily Corley and the planning committee of Nathan Diambra, Rachel Gunia, Emilee Howard, and Andrew Porth did a fantastic job of organizing and managing the event.


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