WASHINGTON — In today’s world, sporting events are no longer simply on- field contests, but multi-hour presentations stuffed to the brim with entertainment and advertising from well before the game starts until after it finishes. This has changed our passive experience as spectators into a fully interactive one.
When it comes to guiding fans through the cornucopia of multimedia, many teams rely on an in-game host, to varying degrees of success. But two local teams have turned to the same woman, and may have just found the right formula for such a position.
Meet Erin Magee. If you went to a Washington Capitals game last season, or have been to a Washington Kastles match this year, you may already recognize her.
Magee was first a member of the Red Rockers, the Capitals’ cheerleading squad, for two years before finding out about open tryouts for the in-game host position. She sent in her application video, then won an online vote among fans before last season.
“I knew that Erin was going to apply,” says Tyler Hines, manager of game entertainment for the Capitals. “I actually reached out to her to let her know that it was going to happen, because I thought she would be good for it.”
So what prepared her for such a role? Did she have a professional background in acting or public speaking?
“No, not at all,” Magee laughs. But she did have an edge: “I’m a teacher. So speaking in front of crowds, big or small, old or young, seems to work for me pretty well.”
The Olney, Maryland, native teaches fifth grade in the Montgomery County Public Schools. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in elementary education and began her teaching career last year, just as she was making her Caps debut.
Magee’s ability to relate to kids — and to help them feel comfortable in front of thousands on the big screen at the Verizon Center — comes in handy between periods at Caps home games. Junior teams are often invited to play a short game on the ice, and the Mite of the Night sits down with Magee for a post-game interview, broadcast to the fans in attendance.
“Yeah, that always seems to be the hit,” she says of the bit. “One of my favorite parts of the game is watching those little kids skating back and forth, chasing the puck and seeing them light their fire of loving hockey, then getting a chance to ask them about it in front of all the fans.”
Of course, not every fan wants to be entertained every minute of the game, especially on nights when the team isn’t playing well. It’s a delicate balance, knowing when to be feed off the crowd and when to tone it back to get the message across positively without being abrasive.
“Erin’s likeability with the fans made her the strongest candidate,” says Hines. “She made it feel like you were talking to or hearing from a fan.”
Being a good host can mean being easily forgotten, as a seamless part of the event presentation. If you can improve the vibe of the crowd without anyone attributing it to you in particular, you’ve done well. Magee understands that challenge, but appreciates it.
She says that trying to improve the mood in the arena on a rough night is “kind of my job. I like that I can make people feel excited, even when there’s maybe not that much to be excited about, and look for the positives — in life in general — but definitely in a hockey game that may not be going our way.”
Magee is currently filling the same role for the Kastles, helping her stay sharp during the summer months. But balancing two professional sports teams with a full- time teaching job is quite a full plate for a 20-something just out of school.
“It got a little busy,” she says of her life. “I’m that kind of person, though. I get bored easily, so I like keeping my schedule super jam-packed.”
Asked if she would be open to adding other sports, or perhaps pursuing television opportunities, Magee defers for now.
“It’s hard to not give it any thought,” she says about future endeavors in sports. “But I really love teaching. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I don’t know if I would say no to something that came up, but at the same time, I’m not there right now. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride at this point.”