Fun and games for sports specialist
By Nadine Godwin
Everyone is acquainted
with the adage, “Do what
you love, and the money
will follow.” John Anthony, who with his wife,
Katie, owns a $50 million
agency devoted almost exclusively
to sports-related travel, is living
proof that one can combine love
and money in the work world.
That wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s,
Anthony was a 20-something certified public accountant who “didn’t enjoy going to
work. I wanted to work in sports.”
One day, after returning to his office in
Fort Worth, Texas, from a Notre Dame
football game, he sat at his desk ruminating
on the situation.
His sister, Cynthia Anthony Stouten-burgh, was an independent contractor for a
travel agency at the time. She had the clients
and the experience, and Anthony had the
yen to build a business with a sports niche,
so they co-founded Dallas-based Anthony
Travel in 1989.
Anthony, a Notre Dame alumnus, said
another alum who was his client recommended his agency to decision-makers at
the university in South Bend.
From that came a contract to move the
school’s band to a bowl game. The agency
saved Notre Dame $100,000, Anthony said,
and the agency later won the bid for the
university’s entire travel account.
In that first decade, Anthony’s sister left
the business. He is now president and CEO
and his wife is treasurer, and they work out
of an office in South Bend.
The agency counts a total of 100 staff in
14 locations, most of them inside university
From left, John Anthony, president and CEO of Anthony Travel, South Bend, Ind., with agency staffers
Sarah Hamberlin, Melinda Munoz and Tricia Gorgas. The photo was taken this spring at the NCAA Final
Four men’s basketball championship in San Antonio.
athletic departments, from the University
of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., to
Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
Except for Notre Dame, all university
business is with athletic departments only.
The agency works with 19 departments year
round. For these, Anthony said, “we move
all teams and coaches for all
games, for recruiting, and we
take fans to major [football
bowl games] and the [NCAA]
Final Four in basketball.”
The business mix is split evenly between university-related business and
sporting events, for which the agency prepares packages directed to the event participants and to spectators. These events
include those at Disney’s Wide World of
Sports Complex in Orlando, youth soc-
cer, Ironman competitions and the like.
Anthony Travel prepares a “preferred
package” with the “best deals,” Anthony
said, and event sponsors may even require
that people buy from the travel agency in
order to get into the event.
He said this simplifies life for the sponsor
that may want to ensure that
participants or spectators
buy certain things, such as
event tickets, the pasta dinner the night before a mara-
thon, theme park tickets or hotel rooms.
In return, he said, the arrangement sometimes generates revenue for event sponsors,
or it saves them money, or “in many cases,
it does both,” Anthony said.
To sell product, he continued, the agency’s packages are part of an official offering.
Promotion is primarily electronic, and each
event’s host organization or sponsor sends
out the emails and include information at
their proprietary websites.
Four Anthony Travel staffers are devoted
to communications and marketing, creating the messages for the emailed promotions and websites.
The agency’s own site is a “very important tool for us,” Anthony said. For example,
he continued, someone wanting to attend
the New York City Marathon might go to
that event’s website, but if the person wants
to explore hotel options or even book, the
click-through will take him to Anthony
Travel, the event’s official agency.
The biggest surprise, Anthony said, is
“how enjoyable work can be.” Besides creating a career around sports, he said he has
found great people to work with inside and
outside the agency.
Anthony isn’t alone in combining sports
and work; many staffers are former college-level athletes, or just nuts about sports.
PHO TO B Y ERIC McCO Y
Jackie Hass, director of soccer events, has
pursued sports since age 4, she said. She has
a master’s degree in sports administration
and worked at the Disney sports complex
before applying at Anthony Travel.
It’s “outstanding” to be able to attend
many sports events for work, she said — although her sport is softball, not soccer.
Jason Rice, director of endurance events,
helps plan for events — triathlons, marathons and others — that he also enters.
He does site inspections then often returns for the events, where staff is available
24 hours a day, but the agency’s down time
is during the competitions themselves.
Rice competes in some of them, which
“makes for a long weekend,” he acknowledged.
Then there is Mike Pope, envied by colleagues, he said, because, as Anthony’s account manager at the University of North
Carolina, his alma mater, his office overlooks the football field in Kenan Stadium.
A lover of all college sports, Pope said
the sports environment “rings true to my
heart and spirit, [but] what we do here is
still called work.”
Game time in South Bend, Ind.
The following weekend itinerary was prepared in the South Bend, Ind., office of
Anthony Travel, for the avid fan of Notre
cheon on campus at 11: 30 a.m. After
lunch, tour the campus. Be sure to visit
the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Main
Building (Golden Dome) and the Hes-
Have dinner at Rocco’s and drinks at
Corby’s Irish Pub, which was featured in
the movie “Rudy.”
Day 1: Arrive on the University of Notre
Dame campus at 3 p.m. and visit the
Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, followed
by 5 p.m. check-in at the Ivy Court Inn
and Suites, adjacent to campus.
Have dinner at Maury’s Pat’s Colonial
Pub (be sure to make reservations); follow with 9 p.m. drinks at the Linebacker
Day 2: Begin the day with a visit to the
College Football Hall of Fame at 9 a.m.,
followed at by the Friday Football Lun-
burgh Library, better known to sports fans
as the building with the “Touchdown Jesus” mural on the side.
In the late afternoon, at 4: 15, watch the
band “step off”
from the steps of
the Main Building; follow the
marchers to the
Joyce Center to
gather for a pep
rally. By 5: 15,
grab a good seat
for the official
Notre Dame rally, featuring the
band, cheerleaders and the team.
Notre Dame Stadium.
Day 3: Game day. Take a morning walk
around campus and enjoy the sights and
sounds of Notre Dame. Lunch on a bratwurst sandwich at the Knights of Columbus stand on campus.
At 12: 30 p.m., gather near the north end
of the stadium and watch the team walk
from Mass at the Basilica to the stadium.
At 1: 20 p.m., the band marches into
the north end of the stadium playing the
Notre Dame Victory March. Take your
seat at 2 p.m. in time to watch the pregame
pageantry and the 2: 30 p.m. kickoff.
Celebrate Mass on campus at 7 p.m.