Elise grew up the oldest of five children in Chesapeake, Virginia. Her family moved around a lot due to her dad being in the Army. Those adolescent travels allowed Elise to experience different cultures and develop the ability of making new friends.  As she explained her upbringing, I could see that sports had been an integral part of her childhood. “I just dove right into sports. I ran track, played basketball. I get that from my Dad’s side of the family. They were all really good athletes” she said enthusiastically. Like any older sibling, Elise took on the responsibility of being the role model and also the disciplinarian when necessary. Elise translates leadership, support, and tough love to get the job done for her clients today.

Elise and I sat down on a Washington DC rooftop. The weather and view certainly added to the powerful conversation. Elise is a graduate of Hampton University’s Sport Management program. Elise is currently a sport manager and event coordinator for professional athletes and entertainers.  A Hampton Roads native, Elise has built a strong pipeline with the prominent stars from the 757 area. Elise uses a community focused approach to build long lasting public relations for her clients. Organizing events for Super Bowl champions, Kam Chancellor and Antoine Bethea, NBA star Mike Scott, and even a track Olympian, Kelli Wells. Elise wears many hats and offers an array of brand management services. It’s probably most impressive to see how Elise has maneuvered and persevered as a young women in a tricky male dominated industry. Elise has found a niche and possesses the skills to flourish on many levels. We present to you a get-it-done sports pro in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation.

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Who did you look up to as a kid?

Elise: As far as someone tangible to me, I would say my mom. I have always looked up to my mother. She’s amazing woman. Then growing up running track, I have always loved Gail Devers and Flo-Jo. When it came to basketball, who didn’t look up to Michael Jordan? And with my 757 roots, of course Allen Iverson. I had everything! Headband, Coat, Shoes, Cornrows, Ev-ree-thing! I love football too. I’m a Cowboys Fan, of course!

What is your passion and when did you know?

Elise: I knew at an early age. Not from only playing sports, but when I got to Hampton University, just really focusing on the business aspect of sport. I really fell in love with it then. It was just a combination of how I grew up and my college studies. I really want to help athletes beyond sports. That’s what I put my focus on and here I am today. I truly believe my purpose is helping people grow. I get fulfill that purpose through sports and entertainment.

How did you get started in sports business?

Elise: I got started as a manager around 2012 when a friend of the family, Mike Scott, was expected to get drafted into the NBA. I approached him with how my knowledge and experience could assist him. We had a few conversations and made it official shortly after.

So who are some your clients and what events have you done?

Elise: I’ve worked with super bowl champions like  Kam Chancellor and Antoine Bethea. Then on the entertainment side, Rob Hill Sr., Kenny Burns, I went on the “Live Life for a Living tour with them. Then my female clients, Track Olympian, Kelli Wells. This past summer was a great time for me. Every weekend of June I had a camp and it was wonderful to reach so many kids, and also working with great clients. I want to continue to work with them and do more.

What are your scope of services ?

Elise: I do wear many hats. Some of the services I provide for my clients are social media training, public relations, day-to-day management, branding and marketing. It’s about development for the athlete, a lot of it is community based events and initiatives. Foundation work, and event planning. I’ve worked weddings, to sporting events, to social events, to parties. All of that!

What have you learned from being an entrepreneur?

Elise: Well that’s a two fold question. What have I learned? A lot! We could be here all day. It’s definitely a tricky business. Understanding what’s going on behind the scenes, off the court is important. Some of the things I learn about working in a male dominated field is that as a woman you just have to let your presence be known. You have to be assertive and you gotta play with the boys. No one can do what you do just like you. It’s a constant grind, but it’s fun. I just play my strengths and always do my best.

 

What are some challenges you faced working in the sports industry?

Elise:  I was one of those people who knew what they wanted to do early. As soon as I hit Hampton, I was really focused on what I wanted to do. I decided to declare my major in Sports Management. I interned and worked throughout college. I didn’t do too much partying. I always had an appetite to learn more. It was a challenge after I graduated, like “what career do I go after?” And if it doesn’t work out, “Where to next?” So really, finding my niche as a young sports professional was a challenge.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Elise: I have to be honest, all of them. You can’t have one without the other, but if I had to pick a few, one of the biggest things was graduating college. In any black family, I believe graduating college is a big deal. For one, because of the cost of college. It’s so many parents that can’t afford to send their kids to college. I’m grateful that I had two parents that said, “Hey you want to go to college and we’re going to help you get there.” Recently, it was great to work with a Super Bowl Champion, Kam Chancellor, and I was able to celebrate Antione Bethea going into the MEAC Hall-of-Fame. Working with Rob Hill Sr. and all that he does, as far as impacting the world. Certainly can’t take that lightly.

What frustrates you the most about the mobile culture of 2015?

Elise: The wrong thing can go viral so quickly. Then the positive things don’t go viral. That’s the biggest thing for me. I try not to get too caught up in it, because it’s easy to. I just focus on what’s positive. I don’t retweet or post anything that I feel is negative. I consider myself a leader, so I encourage everyone to take the high road.

What is the #1 Factor to your success?

Elise: God. It has to be. He will continue to be that factor. I think the moment I lose sight of that factor, things will begin to go down hill haha. He is the one that continues to wake me up every morning and give me “another day, another opportunity.” I tweet that every morning because it centers me and reminds me that God has me here for a particular purpose. It’s a destiny that I have to get to.

What advice do you have for the aspiring sport managers?

Elise: To take the opportunity seriously. If that door is open you have to walk through it, but you also have to be prepared to walk through it. Younger generations sometimes think things are just going to fall in their lap. It’s not going to happen that way. I encourage all people to pursue their education, learn as much as you can. Start with internships. Don’t wait until you graduate. My question to young people is, “Are you ready for the life that you want?” The work never stops. If you’re not ready, you need to prepare yourself to be ready.

Interested in learning more or connecting with Elise?

Instagram/Twitter: @EliseNHillman

Email: EliseNHillman@gmail.com