Smile Politely

Uniforms: Jeremy Thorpe

Meet Jeremy: local, sports fan, driven by personal sucess, a sharp dresser, and the guy who puts buts in seats at the State Farm Center. Read on to her about his job, the market of his position, and what it’s like to work for his organization. Also see photos of his gear, where he works, and some behind the scenes photos of the State Farm Center. 

Smile Politely: What is your job, position, and length of employment?

Jeremy Thorpe: I am Account Executive for Season and Group Tickets with Illinois Athletics and IMG Ticket Solutions. I earned my Masters Degree from UIUC in May and began here in Jun 2016. The year has flown by!

I met Thorpe at the State Farm Center and he took my back into his office. He was dressed super sharp in Illinois-themed colors.

SP: What other jobs have you done in the past?

Thorpe: I have worked for two minor league baseball teams, doing things from dancing on dugouts and performing along side the mascots to taking said mascot and players to visit children’s hospitals and nursing homes. I also managed operations for a luxury fitness club downtown Chicago.

Thorpe seems to get some of his style from his dad. “He loves bags and coats,” says Thorpe as he shows me a bag his dad gave him, a smart leather messenger bag.

SP: Do you have a uniform or something you wear every day to work? What is it?

Thorpe: Typical work days are business casual, but game days call for khaki pants and an Illini Polo. I have a few shirts that I rotate, blue, tan, or grey pants, and always a good pair of shoes try to keep it as dapper as possible while representing the Illini.

SP: What are your duties at work?

Thorpe: A regular day consists of managing several accounts for season ticket by phone, email, and face to face meeting as well as working to bring groups out to Illini basketball and football games. Game days are a little more fun because I get to visit my groups at their tailgates and in their seats, take youth football players on the field during pre-game, and even invite some fans down to the sideline to watch a couple of series during football seasons. During basketball season it’s been fun to see the faces of kids who have gotten to perform in front of a huge crowd for the national anthem or half time show.

SP: How long are your shifts? How many hours a week do you work?

Thorpe: We average 40 hours a week, but that all changes when games are involved. A football Saturday can add another four to five hour to the week and weekday basketball game could make for a 13 hour day as opposed to the normal 8.

Thorpe is in shape and he tries to say so in part by making sure he’s putting good food and plenty of water in his body. 

Thorpe launches a 3 pointer in his office and explains to me that he likes to keep the office a place of both productivity and enjoyability. 

SP: How would you describe the job market for your position in C-U?

Thorpe: There is a good size market for someone like myself with a background in recreation, sports and tourism. Outside of working for the University Division of Intercollegiate athletics, there are park districts, YMCAs, and many fitness clubs as well where a person with the same background can thrive.

Thorpe says his team has gotten out of the habit of ringing this bell when they make a sale but he wants to liven things up, bring some excitment into the office and start ringing this bell again. 

SP: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Thorpe: Going into college, I wanted to be an athletic trainer after observing the work of our trainer during football at Centennial. Unfortunately, this was not an option because of scheduling while running track so I decided to stick to the business side of sports and recreation and have enjoyed it since then.

SP: What is the best part of your job? The worst?

Thorpe: The best part of my job is seeing the final product which is two-fold. One is checking on my group during the game and ensuring they are enjoying themselves. My favorite moments have been the local heroes recognition during football and getting over 1,300 tickets donate for our “hoops for heroes” campaign in which those donated tickets were given to local law enforcement, fire, EMT, and veteran agencies. Second is looking around Memorial Stadium or State Farm Center during games with HUGE crowds like the two sell outs with North Carolina for football and Minnesota for basketball…its great to know that I’ve helped bring people out for some fun and to be a part of a great atmosphere.

SP: What are some misconceptions about your job?

Thorpe: I think that people assume any job in the sports field is all fun and hanging with players and watching games. We put in regular hours during the week as well as long game days a lot. To be honest most positions have very little interaction with players and coaches.

SP: What do you want everyone to know about your job?

Thorpe: Working for a program, especially one with so many traditions and long-time loyal fans is more than just selling tickets. I get the opportunity to talk to fans about the good and bad, it supports the community and the university and its student-athletes. Being from here and a lifelong Illini fan, not much is better than seeing kids and families spending time together and enjoying Fighting Illini sports!

More Articles