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I've Had a 'Wild' Career in Sports Since Moving to DSM USA

Iowa Wild Sparks Career Growth in DSM USA

June 25, 2018

Growing up in the Upper Northeast I was a sports fan but never really considered myself to be a hockey fan. Everyone in Ithaca, N.Y. played some sort of hockey, whether it be street hockey in the summers or lake hockey in the winters. But for me, the hockey fandom wouldn’t come around until much later.

Building a career in sports

I knew I wanted to work in sports. Throughout college I did whatever I could to set myself up to get a job in the field when I graduated. When I got my degree, I had two employment options: one in baseball and one in hockey.

Oddly enough, the reason why I took the hockey job was because the hiring manager for the baseball position told me to. So, two days after receiving the offer, I was an account executive with the Albany River Rats. It also didn’t hurt the job was only 40 minutes away.

About 18 months later, I made a jump to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers working in group sales and community relations before moving to Providence to work for the Bruins, eventually becoming the Vice President of Sales for the organization.

I originally met Todd Frederickson, Iowa Wild’s president since its inception in 2013, when I was with the River Rats at league meetings and we always maintained a working relationship from that first meeting.

In the spring of 2013, he and I started talking about Iowa Wild as an organization. Todd told me to “Google Des Moines.” From there I packed up and moved to Greater Des Moines (DSM). I was enticed by the idea of building an organization from the ground up and it offered a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Building a community in DSM

For the first time in my life, I was moving out of the Upper Northeast.

These past five years with the Wild has been a blur. Being able to grow the organization with the region has been incredible. Becoming intertwined with the community was a goal of ours when we started, and we’ve been successful in that front.

Hockey DSM USAThere are so many things I’m proud to have been a part of during the last five years as well. Our Junior Crash Course program started last year. The Wild and local businesses partner to give 50 kids the opportunity to try hockey for free. Of the 50 who participated in the program, 48 continued to play this year with the Des Moines Youth Hockey Association. We’re doing it again this season and the number of applicants has already tripled since last season.

Another major event for us was Hockey Days Iowa, where we built four pond hockey rinks in Carlisle, part of DSM, and hosted a 3-on-3 hockey tournament. I was going to be happy if we had 15 – 20 teams play. We ended up having 42 teams including a couple from out of state.

We have made it a point to have keynote events every season. This year will see the NHL preseason game between Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues — a huge event for the organization and the region. We hope to bring an outdoor game to Iowa in the future as well.

I’m also proud Iowa Wild played its part in DSM being named a #1 Minor League Sports Market by SportsBusiness Journal.  

Wild for the future

These past five years have been great, but we’re even more excited for what’s going to come.

Initially when I moved to DSM, I figured it was going to be a stop for me — that I’d work here for a few years before moving on to my next position. But I formed many strong relationships in the community and I’ve really grown to love it here.

Looking back on it, the baseball guy was right. Hockey was the best career move I could have made. And now I’m absolutely a fan of hockey and DSM.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internshipa jobdevelop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Eric Grundfast

Eric Grundfast is entering his 11th season in the American Hockey League and sixth season in Greater Des Moines (DSM) with the Iowa Wild as vice president of sales. He is very active in the community serving as the Development Chair for the ALS Association, Iowa Chapter as well as on the board of directors and is very passionate about giving back to DSM. Grundfast currently resides in DSM with his wife, Sarah.