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Turning a Passion for Sports into a Career

Izzy Welch
“Sports is a very fast-paced environment, and you have to be able to work well under pressure. I would say that I find the most stressful is maintaining a work/life balance,” said Cafiero.

Katie Cafiero was the former Public Relations Assistant for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although she now works for the Nashville Predators, she previously assisted the Lightning with their interviews and public affairs. She brought the “thunder” to the Lightning and has an inspiring story of how she rose to where she is now. 

“My dream was to work in communications for the NHL, so I was doing everything I could to meet with the Tampa Bay Lightning PR team,” said Cafiero. “I introduced myself and said, ‘I want to work for  you one day.’ He gave me his business card and offered to have me job shadow. After job shadowing, I kept in touch, and that eventually led to my internship position.” 

From an early age, Cafiero was passionate about hockey. She “love[s] the game, the atmosphere and the culture,” which inspired her to take up a career in sports. In high school, Cafiero “took a lot of journalism classes” and wrote for her high school newspaper. Having the  real-world experience of reporting on the paper helped Cafiero “solidify [her] passion for  communications, and it exposed [her] to opportunities that positively impacted the direction of  [her] career.” 

After high school, Cafiero attended the University of South Florida, majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration on Public Relations. Cafiero got her start in sports by interviewing for the USF Athletic Department, which eventually led to her life’s most significant job opportunity. She was offered a job shadow for her dream team, our very own Tampa Bay Lightning. “I connected with their PR director on LinkedIn and saw that he was going to be speaking at a conference, so I bought a ticket and a seat in the front row,” said 

Cafiero. After speaking to him after the conference and staying in touch, the opportunity eventually led to her job internship.

“I was so excited! It was something I worked so hard for, so it felt surreal. Sports is a very competitive field, and I was lucky to be offered a dream job right after college, especially with my hometown team.”

Although working for a superstar sports team is captivating, being in the  Communications department means traveling everywhere with the team to help the players or coaches with public affairs. When asked if she likes traveling, Cafiero responded, “I love this part of the job because I get to explore new cities and see other NHL arenas.” This season, Cafiero has been on “about ten road trips, and traveled earlier this year with our goaltender Juuse Saros for the 2023 NHL All-Star game in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.” Although many benefits come with this job, traveling so much means there is little time to have a personal life. 

“Sports is a very fast-paced environment, and you have to be able to work well under pressure. I would say that I find the most stressful is maintaining a work/life balance,” said Cafiero. 

Most games are away from home, so she is in a new city or state frequently. Cafiero stated, “There are 82 regular season hockey games in addition to practices, community outreach, events at Bridgestone Arena, other business initiatives throughout the year, and (fingers crossed!) playoffs.” With all these games and other events, there is little time to focus on making a private life for yourself. Yet, Cafiero manages it and loves every second. Her advice was that “being organized is key.”

Working in sports is a vast industry. In the Communications department, both working for the Lightning and currently at the Predators, Cafiero stated, “I was the only female in my  department at the Lightning, and I am the only female in my department at the Preds.” While working in the sports field is primarily male-dominated, Cafiero stated, “I never felt like I faced any struggles as a woman when I started my career. Every player, coach, trainer, and staff  member who I have worked with has treated me with the same amount of respect as my male  coworkers.” Even though it may be intimidating, Cafiero never let anything stop her from achieving her dreams of working for the NHL. 

“It’s awesome whenever I get to meet other women who work across the league, and I hope that I can inspire other girls to pursue a career in sports,” proudly stated Cafiero. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning was lucky to have Katie Cafiero work for them, and the Nashville Predators are lucky to have her, too! Cafiero’s hard work and dedication to pursuing her dream of working in the NHL paid off. “I am still close with the Lightning organization and their Communications team. I am so grateful for their mentorship and their help in launching my career in the NHL,” said Cafiero. 

Cafiero has shown anything with hard work is achievable. Cafiero stated, “Although I am now with the visiting team, I still feel like ‘home’ every time I return back to Amalie Arena.”

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About the Contributors
Alexa Decker, Staff Writer
Izzy Welch, Photographer

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