Hannah Buntrock continues to adapt to life in Memphis
“Wait – you work for the Grizzlies?”
That’s typically the response Hannah Buntrock gets when her occupation becomes the topic of conversation. Whether in the franchise’s city of Memphis, or in her hometown of Wittenberg, Wis., the revelation is usually met with some level of surprise.
Make no mistake, Buntrock isn’t surprised to be working in a sports-related field. In a big city, maybe, but she always trusted that her Marian University education was preparing her to achieve her dreams of having a career in sports communication.
“When I look back, there were a lot of professors and classes that taught me skills that I currently utilize,” said the December 2019 graduate. “What I do involves a little bit of everything, and my education exposed to me to so much that I’ve felt comfortable doing everything I’ve been asked to do.”
“It felt like home”
With her high school’s graduating class falling just shy of 100 students, Buntrock had always enjoyed the close-knit feel of her community. So when it came time for her college search, she appreciated then-Marian volleyball Kerri Huebel reaching out to her and describing the school’s culture.
“I just loved being on campus, it just felt right and it felt like home,” she said, recalling her two campus visits and knowing already as a junior in high school it’s where she wanted to go. “From my very first day it felt like I already had made best friends, I really appreciated that and was really happy with my decision.”
In addition to being on the volleyball team, she spent her first two years as a Sabre being a member of the school newspaper, joining the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and playing the mascot from time to time.
It was then that she got the itch to transfer to a larger school, giving one in Minnesota a try having visited a friend there. But, with a semester away reminding her of what she was missing, she came back to Marian to finish her degree.
“I just ended up desperately missing Marian, missing my friends,” she said. “The university I went to was perfectly fine, it just wasn’t Marian.”
There’s no place like home
Upon her return she was taught how to write press releases and handle situations that public relations professionals face on a regular basis. She learned how to master Adobe Suite and PhotoShop, and was given plenty of insight into how to perform in management roles.
This led her to excel as an intern for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the summer of 2019, where she helped handle the team’s PR – writing press releases, managing its social media accounts, taking pictures, conducting in-game promotions, and in general taking on customer service tasks.
“It was a little bit of everything and it gave me a great taste of what working in the sports world is like,” she said. “Really, everything I learned at Marian prepared me for that internship, the classes addressed the situations I eventually faced.”
Finding a new home
When the internship ended Hannah wanted to keep working in sports. Having created connections with individuals working for the Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks, she landed an interview with the Grizzlies. It was one of the first positions she applied for after graduation, and while she reflected on her time in Minnesota and thought about how she would handle a big city, she realized she needed to go beyond Wisconsin and work in a new sport, despite her love for baseball.
“It’s a competitive industry, for as big as people think it is, it’s really small and people have connections all over,” she said. “Something felt right when I took the job. I just couldn’t pass it up. I didn’t want to pass it up.”
In a matter of 10 days she was offer the job, accepted the job, flew to Memphis to see the city for the first time, got an apartment, flew back to Wisconsin and drove back down to Memphis to work as a ticket sales representative. On an 11-month contract, she makes daily phone calls to prospective ticket buyers, then handles game day responsibilities when the team is in town, while also going out into the community as a representative of the up-and-coming franchise.
“Everyone here is so excited about them, I didn’t know what to expect because it’s their only professional sports team, but this is a basketball town,” she said. “My manager is awesome, my training has been amazing, and while it was initially intimidating I’m so glad I did it.”