Podgorny goes deep (into Europe), joins football start-up
As an undergraduate in MechSE, D.J. Podgorny (BSME ’15) won some of the College of Engineering’s top honors—being named a Knight of St. Patrick and winning the impressive Stanley H. Pierce Student Award. He was a genuine leader among his peers, serving on Engineering Council, the Engineering Information Bureau, Pi Tau Sigma honor society, and as Head Engineering Learning Assistant. He also founded the MechSE Advancement Student Committee (MASC) to foster better engagement between students and alumni.
Now, his ability to lead can be seen in his new role as Director of Football Operations for The Growth of a Game, a startup that serves as a community for football advocates across Europe.
“American football is the fastest growing sport in Europe, due to a host of factors, and our goal is to help foster that growth to even higher levels. We accomplish that by importing and selling American football equipment to European teams, hosting skills camps across Europe, and creating content featuring teams, best practices, and the overall promotion of the sport abroad. We’re still a young company and we have plans to expand our influence beyond these core pillars in both the near and short term,” Podgorny said.
With a full-time assignment in Brussels, Belgium, Podgorny’s primary responsibility is in business development, mainly in the Scandinavian region, as well as website content management. He also helps manage operations of the company’s camps—with more than a dozen scheduled already this year across Europe—at which players and coaches work on improving their American football skills.
“I have a great view of the entire business from my vantage point,” Podgorny said. “Through our camps, website, and blog, we are aiming to create a community of American football advocates across the world, and we have plans to increase our focus on this area more as the business grows.”
Football has been part of Podgorny’s life for years. He played the sport through his own high school career, was a coach for a high school in Monticello, Illinois, and worked as a manager for the University of Illinois’ football program.
“People always laugh when I tell them I have wanted to be the General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts since I was ten years old. While I would still love to be in that position someday, my dream has certainly evolved as I have traveled and gained working experience,” Podgorny said. “With The Growth of a Game, I am excited about raising awareness for the sport I love dearly and bringing it to new areas. It would blow your mind how many passionate football fans there are all across Europe. I want to continue to bring smiles to players’ faces and give more players the opportunity to learn about the sport as well as the resources to play it. Developing skills working in international markets is also of prime importance to me as sports become more and more globalized.”