When he was a junior at San Jose State University, Ryan Stenn knew he wanted to be involved in professional sports. So he applied for an intern position with the San Jose Sharks, not knowing if anything was available. For six months, Stenn fired off an email at least once a month to let the powers that be know he was serious about the position. Stenn’s persistence paid off, as he eventually got an intern position with the Sharks in 2003.
“I think that’s what it took me to get in, that I kind of showed I would do whatever they needed me to do and I would get after it,” said Stenn, a Morgan Hill resident who with the exception of the NHL lockout season in 2004-2005 has worked in the Sharks organization since 2003. “I kind of carved my way in.”
Stenn, who is the Director of Team Services, has several roles, most notably this: He helps get the team where it needs to be, which, when it comes to a professional sports franchise, involves a high attention to detail, planning and organization. Stenn is responsible for flight arrangements, bus transportation from the airport to the hotel, scheduling a rink for ice time/practices, meals, hotel lodging, and pretty much anything that involves the team going from one place to another, he’s got his hands all over it.
If that sounds like a lot, well, it is. However, the 36-year-old Stenn is meticulous in his preparation and checklists, lessening the effects of what could be a very stressful job.
“I have my checks and balances in place,” he said. “I double and triple check everything. I’m already a paranoid guy as it is, so I make sure 10 times over that things are set. I’m always in contact with the hotel and the bus from the city where the team is leaving from, and it’s over-communication, basically. It can be stressful if you don’t stay on top of things.”
To stay on top, Stenn plans things far in advance. When the upcoming NHL schedules come out—usually in mid-July—Stenn gets to work. He analyzes the schedule and starts booking hotels for the entire season. Then he works on the bus arrangements, then the ice time and by July he’ll have every single day of the regular season mapped out from September until April. Things like the hotel rooming list is arranged a couple of weeks before the team’s stay at a particular location. Stenn also works on arranging the player per diems.
“I hardly know who is playing; I’m mainly focusing on what the next trip is and the trip after that,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay ahead of everything.”
Stenn also sends out a group text to everyone on the team and the hockey staff in regards to the next day’s warm-up, meetings and skate times. In the morning, he updates the standings on the board so everyone knows what happened the night before. Stenn also sends out a prospect report every morning detailing what they did the night before. Has Stenn always been the organized type?
“I would say so, but maybe my parents don’t agree,” Stenn said with a smile. “I’m organized, especially when it comes to a business check list. I’ve definitely figured out that having a checklist is the No. 1 thing to have. You have to know everything and highlight when you’re done with it. Multi-tasking is a huge thing because I have a few things going on at once, but it’s never out of sync.”
In other words, even though Stenn is doing multiple tasks at once, he has it organized that those tasks are related to one another, making for efficient work. Even though things can go wrong on a moment’s notice—the team’s plane getting diverted at the last minute due to inclement weather, for instance—Stenn has made sure to leave no stone unturned. By constantly communicating with all of the parties involved and having backup plans, the Sharks get to the places where they need to be, often with little turbulence—no pun intended.
That’s a credit to Stenn and the people who make up the staff that is responsible for getting the team from one destination to another with as little issues as possible.
“It’s been a fairly smooth year,” Stenn said.
A 2000 Mitty High graduate, Stenn played baseball there and at San Jose City College. Playing community college baseball was a chance to extend the dream of playing professionally.
“Once I realized I wasn’t going to be a pro baseball player, I had to think about what I wanted to do in my life,” he said. “I spent a couple of years at San Jose City to keep the dream alive as long as I could.”
Stenn has been living in Morgan Hill for four years. He has a wife, Jennifer, and they have two kids: R.J., who is 6 years old, and Gia, who is 4 years old. Ryan and Jennifer will be celebrating their 10-year anniversary in August, and they’ve had a wonderful time living in Morgan Hill.
“We love Morgan Hill,” Ryan said. “It’s been great.”
Even though Stenn loves his job, it’s always tough when he goes on the road with the team, especially for up to a week or more at a time. He misses his family, and yet they all know it’s part of the job and comes with the territory. When Stenn does return from a road trip, it makes family time that much more enjoyable.
“My wife has been amazing and is just a rock,” Stenn said. “And our kids are at great ages now. They play with each other and all R.J. wants to do is play baseball or hockey. Gia is into softball and gymnastics.”
In 2004-2005 during the NHL lockout, Stenn worked doing public relations for the now defunct San Jose Stealth lacrosse team. When the NHL returned to action the following year, he earned a job writing stories for and updating the Sharks’ website before landing his current position a year later. Stenn said it’s been a great experience being a part of the Sharks organization, which is known for its stability and employee satisfaction. Simply put, the team depends on Stenn, and he works behind the scenes to get the job done.
“I’ve always been a part of a team, whether it’s in baseball or something else, and it’s special to be a part of this team,” he said. “When you’re in the locker room and interact with members of the team and they depend on me for certain things, I know my role and I want to do it well. I’ve been fortunate that the Sharks have only missed the playoffs once in 15 years. That’s not normal, so it’s really a great situation to be a part of.”