Mike deMaine, '95
on July 9, 2009
Sports were always a big part of Mike deMaine’s life. Now 38 years old, it’s how he makes a living. Mike deMaine graduated from Carolina in 1995 with a degree in Sport and Entertainment Management. He’s now the general manager of the Greenville Drive minor league baseball team.
Born in Akron, OH, Mike later moved to Charlotte at age 11. He started his collegiate career at George Mason University in Virginia, where he had signed to play baseball out of prep school. He transferred to Carolina after one year thanks to some convincing from childhood friend and Gamecock baseball player Mac White.
“I was looking to leave George Mason and Mac convinced me to walk-on to the baseball team at Carolina,” Mike says. “I was with the team into the spring before it was evident that I would be their future boss as a general manager, not as a fellow pitcher or hitter. If I had played a position instead of pitched, I could’ve lasted longer.”
Looking back, he’s confident that coming to Carolina was the right decision and has a lot of great memories of his days on campus.
“Certainly meeting my wife, Jamie, is the top of the list,” Mike says. “But making friends that I will always have is right up there. My two roommates at Carolina, Mac White and Randy Thompson, will be friends for life, and our kids will go to Carolina together.”
Mike always had a passion for sports, so it seemed only natural that he chose an area of study that would allow him to pursue those interests. His professors at Carolina helped his dreams come true.
“Growing up outside of Cleveland, sports were a major part of my life,” Mike says. “I wanted to be (Cleveland Browns quarterbacks) Brian Sipe or Bernie Kosar. When it was evident I wasn’t going to be, I decided working in sports was the next best thing. One of the most influential people in my life, both when I was in school and still today, is Dr. Tom Regan. He is a great teacher who taught with real-life application and his courses were pretty tough, but he was an even better advisor. He told it like it was. No sugar coating. And that is something that you need to have.”
Paying his dues
Similar to a baseball player having to make his way up through the ranks, a successful career in sports administration also requires proving yourself at different levels and a willingness to relocate. Mike certainly paid his dues and has worked with professional baseball, football and hockey organizations.
“I started working for $100 per week selling tickets for the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League and rose to director of communications for them in five years,” Mike explains. “I then wanted to go ‘big’ and took a job with the Carolina Panthers, coordinating events. “
After two years, Mike says he missed minor league sports, so he moved to Boise, Idaho, to take a position as the director of compliance for the West Coast Hockey League. From there he went to Frisco, TX, to open the minor league ballpark and franchise there as assistant general manager and vice president of operations. Then he received what he calls his “big break” to return to the Carolinas and launch the world-class ballpark and franchise in Greenville, SC, as general manager of the Greenville Drive and Fluor Field.
“I begged and begged for an interview with the owner as they were looking for GMs,” Mike recalls. “He finally relented and gave me an interview, and somehow I convinced him I was the right guy. I am responsible for the entire operation of the organization, including sales, marketing, food and beverage, merchandise, ballpark, and team operations.”
The Greenville Drive is the single “A” affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. While heading up a minor league baseball team may seem like all fun and games, Mike reminds us there are no off-seasons in the front office, but there are still lots of perks to his job.
“The team is not playing half the year, but their off-season is really our on-season,” Mike says. “We have one month, December, that is a little slow, but as soon as the year changes we are on. Getting to interact with young people looking to begin their careers in sports is my favorite thing; however, interacting with the fans and using our position in the community to make an impact in people’s lives is very rewarding.”
Mike is very active in his local community. He is a member of the Meals on Wheels of Greenville County Board of Directors, Leadership Greenville, Mauldin Miracle League, a board member for the Center of Developmental Services and was honorary chairman for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Walk for Life in 2007.
Mike and his wife, Jamie, met in a finance class at Carolina. The couple and their four children get back to campus many times each year, and he also speaks to classes to share his experiences. As you might expect, following the Gamecocks on the field is still a big part of his life.
“I follow football and baseball very closely with football season tickets and some interaction with the baseball team playing some games up here in Greenville,” Mike says. “But one of my best Gamecock athletic experiences was last fall when I had the opportunity to take my girls to a Carolina volleyball match, and we all had a blast! It was a great environment and good chance for my girls to get close to the action, see Cocky, and meet the players after the game. It was awesome! (Fans at Carolina) should go support them.”
Mike and Jamie have three daughters, Grace, 7; Sophie, 4; and Lacie, 2; as well as one son, Jacob, who was born this spring. Growing up around baseball, he admits his family members are fans to a certain degree.
“My wife used to like going to games before we had the kids,” Mike says. “Now it is a matter of how much popcorn, candy, soft drinks, ice cream the kids can get, and finding or avoiding the mascot, depending on which kid you have with you. My oldest just started playing T-Ball this year.”