Turning Pro: Bradley Experience Makes Sports Dream Come True
For a Chicago sports fan who grew up in that area, working for one of the city’s iconic teams is a highlight-reel opportunity. Working for two of them, with a stint sandwiched in at a historic race track, is a major-league win.
For Robert Hack ’15, it’s been his career since graduation.
“It’s actually a pretty cool job,” said Hack of his job as talent and entertainment coordinator for the NFL’s Bears since early 2018. He works with team mascot Staley Da Bear, the Monster Squad (promo team) and the Drumline.
“We manage their schedules, events they go to, what exactly they do at each event. Staley has a bunch of school programs — Bear Down on Bullies, Tales to Tackle (a reading program), etc. He’s really what keeps me busy with over 300 events a year.”
Hack also helps the actual Bears players hit the field at the right time and place.
“You go to a Bears game and see the players run out of the tunnel, that’s my job on game day,” he said. “We work hard at how we present entertainment to our fans so we set up the tunnels, get the players ready.
“We’ll use music, we’ll work with the pyro team to make sure fireworks go off at the same time . . . it’s basically one big show. You feel like you’re a part of something … like you have a very minute impact on the game.”
He also helps run off- and on-field promotions during the game, making sure things run smoothly around timeouts and TV commercial breaks. These duties require Hack to get to Soldier Field at about 5 a.m. for a noon game on Sundays. Later games let him sleep in a couple extra hours. But the preparations start much earlier in the week.
“The week of the game, if I’m not calling people to confirm their load-in, what exactly they’re doing, where to park, where to check in . . . I’ve failed at my job.”
Coming from a family of Bears fans, the marketing major played on his sports interests early at Bradley. Hack remembers walking across Olin Quad his freshman year and seeing a sign touting marketing internships for the Department of Athletics. “I was like, ‘sold.’’’
Working at sports events in college led to a part-time, game-day internship with the Chicago Blackhawks and then to a full-time position as promotions coordinator for Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Ill.
His job doesn’t have an offseason. Scouting new ideas and trends means keeping tabs on what others do. Hack noted a new 3D photo booth used last season and developments in augmented and virtual reality. “We’re in the business of smiles. I’m constantly researching to create the best overall experience for our fans.”
Memories of tailgating and camaraderie with his family were a large part of Hack’s growing up in suburban Des Plaines, Ill. He credits Bradley with transforming that sports interest into a career, mentioning the hands-on experiences like his senior project with the Peoria Zoo and working in game-day operations for sporting events.
“I would have taken a job anywhere in the country to work for a minor league or professional sports team,” Hack said. “It just so happened my first two full-time gigs were Arlington Park and now the Bears.
“Every day I go to work and it’s like, ‘wow, it’s a dream come true.’”
— Bob Grimson ‘81