Madison Novelli ’18 faced down tough pitchers and ran down fly balls for the Beacons softball team. After graduation, the former academic all conference standout is still in the game. She has traded her glove, bat and cleats for a head-set with Game Operations for the Portland Trailblazers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
If you see a game in person or even on television, you can watch Madi and her teammates work in between the action on the court.
“I am the only woman on the Trailblazer’s Game Ops team,” Novelli said. “Our team manages all the behind scenes events, and basically makes all the entertainment, promotions, and events happen at all Blazer’s game.”
Once the team takes the court, Novelli and her Game Ops teammates get ready for as many as six different on court events, including the Century Link Half Court Shot activity or the famous Tic Tac Toe game.
Her specific role is to manage the Honorary Captains. It’s a very special opportunity for kids to come on the court with her to watch the players warm up, meet Blazer star Damian Lillard, and take a photo with him and the captain of the opposing team. “Many of these kids are part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation,” she said. “I love being part of making these kids dreams come true and helping them have an amazing experience at a Blazer game.
She credits her NCU education, specifically Beacon Softball and Speech and Communication’s Professor Doyle Srader, for giving her the confidence to follow her dream to work in sports business
“I give credit to NCU for giving me the opportunity to spread my wings when I moved away from home (Redding, Calif.) to come to campus,” she said. “Now, I will go anywhere for a good opportunity that comes my way. I think it is super important to not get comfortable and to embrace change. The best things happen outside of your comfort zone.”
When the Trailblazer’s season ends, Novelli will get back to watching the strike zone. She’ll trade her Blazer’s Game Ops position for a similar job with Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.