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McKenzie Pezze '16 Sees the Business Side of Basketball With Boston Celtics

By Kenneth Stratton '19 SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2019 - 12:00 PM WNE100

Being a part of the 17-time World Champion Boston Celtics is something not everybody can claim. But for one Western New England University alumna, it’s something she never gets tired of saying.

McKenzie Pezze ’16 studied Sport Management at Western New England and today works in Boston for the legendary basketball franchise. But the road to this destination wasn’t exactly easy, and took a lot of effort and networking beginning in her days as a student.

“I attended several networking events starting my sophomore year in college, a handful in Boston. The Celtics held one each year and I tried to connect with folks who worked in the office,” Pezze explained. From there, she connected with alumni who had been a part of the Inside Sales program.

Pezze added that these connections helped her meet the right people at the Celtics. “After that it was up to me to prove myself,” she said.

Before joining the team of the 17-time World Champions, Pezze enjoyed an undergraduate career at Western New England full of opportunity. In fact, she chose the school because it offered everything she was looking for.

“Being able to major in Sport Management while getting a degree in business was a huge pull,” Pezze said, adding that the seminar abroad programs were a welcome opportunity as well. “It was the icing on the cake that I could also play softball,” she added.

The student-to-faculty ratio was a major incentive to Pezze when she decided to become a Golden Bear, and she benefited from it by getting to know Professor of Sport Management Curt Hamakawa L'84.

“Curt Hamakawa had a large influence on who I am, who I have become, and who I will be. [He] always represents a high level of class and respect no matter the situation,” Pezze explained.

She joined Hamakawa at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, serving as a student ambassador for Western New England. She called it “one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

“This gave me the chance to not only travel but also explore the world of international sport. I learned so many different aspects of the world and sport together as one,” Pezze recalled. “Whether it was touring the favelas of Brazil to touring the International Broadcasting Center for FIFA, there were so many unforgettable moments,” she said.

Pezze was fortunate enough to land an internship every year of her college career, something she said was a top priority for her. These opportunities included time in the Athletic Department at Western New England, and with Springfield Armor Basketball, Springfield Falcons Hockey, Harvard University, and New England Revolution.

“These positions helped me figure out what I was good at and what I enjoyed. Each internship I took in a different aspect of the industry; ticket sales, social media [and] game day promotion, etc.,” Pezze explained.

Right out of college, Pezze began working for the Celtics, thanks to all the networking and experience she had accrued. Starting first as an inside sales representative, after just six months, she moved on to become member experience executive.

“It was nerve wracking to be completely honest, a completely new world without professors, advisors to help every step of the way. It was a complete learning experience, a growing experience that I will never forget,” Pezze said of those first months away from home and away from campus.

It may have taken some time, but the Western New England graduate has settled into her role with the Celtics, responsible for a 636-member wide book of business. Day-to-day, Pezze is focused on making sure season ticket members take full advantage of their benefits, monitoring their accounts, and making sure to retain their business.

With the Celtics now for more than two years, Pezze has been a part of some amazing experiences that make up a small slice of the team's storied franchise history.

“My first game night on the job and hearing the roar of the [TD] Garden welcoming the team onto the parquet floor,” was very memorable, Pezze recalls, as was the night of Paul Pierce’s retirement ceremony.

“It was absolutely one of the most remarkable and emotional experiences that I was able to be a part of here. It really felt like the ‘big leagues’,” Pezze said, remembering Pierce's retirement.

As for what comes next in her career, Pezze explains she’s happy to be with the Celtics as she continues to grow her network in and outside of Boston, which includes opportunities to work with Women in Sports and Events (WISE).

“I am always striving to learn and grow as an individual. Wherever that takes me, I will be humbled and determined to be a part of it,” Pezze concluded.