Throughout preseason football camp, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Rachel Perreault will take you on a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of the football program that go beyond the practice field. In today’s 11th installment, she checks in with the game operations staff.
With just one week of preseason camp remaining, the first game is quickly approaching and for Game Operations manager Cara Walters, this is a very hectic time of year. Walters works closely with everyone from the police to the caterers, event staff to the teams and coaches, to ensure a smooth fall Saturday.
Walters, along with Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Affairs Tom Gabbard, recently held their annual game ops meeting, which brought together every different department that helps game day come together. The meeting went over what marketing promotions were going on for the first few football games, the new innovations the police have to guarantee a safe game day environment, plans for the band and Corps, and the Lane Stadium evacuation plan.
This year’s meeting specifically addressed not only the revised evacuation plan for the stadium and the chain of command for who to report to and when, but also things like parking lot security, tickets and the Hokies Respect texting help line the stadium has in place.
This year’s tickets have two perforated lines on them, with one being above the barcode. Since fans cannot get into the stadium without the barcode on their ticket, this poses as a big problem Walters could run into week after week on game day. Details on things like this and more information about the texting system and other potential game day rules or questions can be found in the game day fan guide.
This close to the start of the season, Walters is in communication with all the different outlets and departments to not only make sure that everyone is informed about safety plans, but knows who to report to for various problems or questions, and that everyone is prepared for the season. With her hand in every aspect of the big event, game day is no less hectic than the preparation for it.
Walters, like the facilities and field crews, arrives at Lane Stadium about six hours prior to kickoff to prepare for the game and is on standby for any issues that will undoubtedly surface. Dealing with last-minute credential requests or parking issues, Walters also works with the TV staff, security, event staff and the teams to coordinate everything and avoid as many possible issues as she can.
Working with more than just football, Walters and her staff are going full speed year-round. They have to address each sport and event differently, but always aim for a smooth running, easy game day. Always looking to improve, any issues from a prior season are addressed during the offseason. Walters says she begins preparing for the fall in late June/early July.
Similar to most departments, the work the game ops staff puts in is rarely seen. They put in a tireless effort to help represent Virginia Tech in the best light and provide an impressive atmosphere no matter what the event is. The attention to detail and ability to be one step ahead are what help Walters and her staff succeed in putting on the best event possible.
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