Little did Liz McCloskey know when she graduated from CWU that she would spend the next two decades working for a Major League Baseball club just down the road from her alma mater.
After spending time in various sales roles within the Seattle Mariners organization, the 2004 alumna now works as director of sales development and group events, leading two strategic sales teams, including a group events branch she helped launch in 2008.
McCloskey feels fortunate to have played such an integral role in marketing the Northwest’s only pro baseball team. At the same time, she knows she never could have gotten this far without a little help from her friends.
“Over my time with the Mariners, I have been given an opportunity to continue to grow and learn from some of the best,” she said. “In my current role, I get to experience the fun side of sales while being creative and finding new ways to fill the ballpark.”
She added that her group events team always tries to find ways to change the landscape of T-Mobile Park’s attendance, while creating unforgettable experiences that help single-game ticket-holders become ticket-package buyers in the future. McCloskey also gets to spend time mentoring the next generation of marketers.
“On the other end, I get to welcome newly graduated college students into sports sales and assist in the teaching and training for them to feel comfortable going out and pitching products to prospective clients,” she said.
Throughout the baseball season, McCloskey brings in various groups to the ballpark for a diverse lineup of events and experiences. She even has the honor of working on one special group event for her alma mater: CWU Night with the Mariners.
McCloskey and her team oversee the university’s most popular alumni event of the year, which attracts more than 1,000 Wildcats to the park every spring. This year’s event was held April 21.
“What a great opportunity to bring the Wildcat community together,” she said. “When College of Business Dean Jeff Stinson and I started this event years ago, I had no idea how it would end up. I had seen success with other colleges, but to be able to welcome so many Wildcats to T-Mobile Park has been amazing. Every year the number of alumni and current students is growing.”
CWU Night with the Mariners gives McCloskey an opportunity to work with current Central students and share her expertise with them so they can grow professionally while helping her put on a successful event.
“Being able to work with the Northwest Center for Sport students and give them the opportunity to experience sales through phone calls and connecting with alumni can be so rewarding,” McCloskey said. “We start planning in early October and work through all the details leading up to the event to ensure we do it better than the year before.”
McCloskey not only acts as a mentor to students while working on the CWU event; she also gives back to the next generation of Wildcats in other ways.
Last fall, she returned to the Ellensburg campus to attend the Northwest Sport Management Summit, which welcomes aspiring sport management professionals and those interested in learning more about how sport and athletic organizations operate behind the scenes.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to reconnect with the campus and current students at CWU,” McCloskey said of the November 17 event in the SURC. “I was welcomed back as part of the third annual Northwest Sport Management Summit, where I was honored as the Alumni of the Year, and the experience was amazing. Just being on campus and getting to see all the places I used to live and the many changes made since my time in school was amazing.”
The theme of the 2022 Northwest Sport Management Summit was “Strategy and Storytelling in Sport,” which focused on effective strategic communication and how professionals in sports-related fields utilize data analytics in their industries.
McCloskey was joined on the panel by about a dozen other industry experts, including Associated Press sportswriter Tim Booth (’00), former Seattle Seahawks running backs coach Amanda Ruller (now with the CWU staff), and San Francisco Giants Director of Team Operations Abe Silvestri (’08 and ’11).
She was happy that she got to share her industry knowledge with students who are interested in following a similar career path to hers. Northwest Center for Sport Director Sean Dahlin said the feeling is mutual, and he looks forward to working with successful alumni like McCloskey in future years.
“Liz has been such a big part of the Northwest Center for Sport and she continues to mentor many of our sport management students today,” Dahlin said. “It was a huge pleasure having Liz back on campus and presenting her with the Alumni of the Year award at the summit. She is more than deserving of the recognition and is a trailblazer in the sport industry.”