Not that long ago, Aaron Wylie and Collin Hemann were preparing for their college-soccer careers by playing for the Des Moines Menace Academy.
In 2015, they have prepared for their real-world careers by interning with the Menace. The Academy grads have returned as full-time interns working behind the scenes of a successful year for the organization.
Aaron, a 2012 Des Moines Lincoln graduate, is preparing for his senior season at Augsburg College (Minn.), where he is double majoring in marketing and communications (and minoring in film). In early May, upon his return home from a travel-abroad semester in Spain, he hopped into his role as the Menace’s marketing and public relations intern.
Collin, a 2013 Dowling Catholic grad, is heading into his junior season at nearby Simpson College, where he is majoring in sports administration. He has been interning with the Menace since January, and this summer he has served as our soccer-operations intern.
Along with marketing and promotions intern Peter Farley, Aaron and Collin have been our 2015 full-time interns. They are among the 20 interns who have contributed to the organization’s successful year. Everyone’s efforts are appreciated by the Menace’s small staff – general manager Matt Homonoff, director of operations Adam Small and director of youth programs Lyle Hunt.
As their internships came to a close, Aaron and Collin took the time to answer the following questions for this story, posted on July 31.
How did you end up in this role?
Collin: Last January I was brought in as a spring intern and I absolutely loved it. I worked throughout the semester three hours a day, three days a week. I feel through my spring internship I proved that I could handle the position as full time operations intern and was offered to come on board for this summer…Which I gladly accepted.
Aaron: It’s been a long ride for you. My journey here was a bit different. I was half way across the globe studying abroad in Barcelona, and I really wanted to work here. I put in an application and went through the interview process while I was in Europe. Fortunately, I was accepted, and once I got back in May, I suited up, came into the office, and got to work. Matt, Adam, Lyle, Peter and Collin, huge shout out to all of you because you all definitely helped me ease into things.
What’s it been like spending a summer with the Menace?
Aaron: You literally eat, breathe, and sleep soccer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You continuously learn about the organizational aspect of soccer which is something I hadn’t really thought about or paid attention to before. The days are full of fun, hard work in preparation for games, as well as marketing, promotions, and many other things. College students generally want a summer filled with travel and lots of vacations, but I’m glad I decided to spend my summer here with the Menace.
Collin: I agree with Aaron, I was definitely eating, breathing and sleeping Menace soccer this summer. It has definitely been a summer to remember. The people I worked with during my time here have become great friends of mine and I’m sad that my time here with them is coming to an end. This summer has been full of hard work, but also filled with some good laughs.
The funniest moment?
Aaron: Lyle has a sick obsession with eating Hot Pockets. I didn’t know it was possible to love something so much, but he proved me otherwise. He has hot pockets for breakfast and brushes his teeth with the sauce. It’s gross, but you can’t fault his determination. Finding out about his unconditional love for those things definitely was one of the funnier moments here this summer.
Collin: Lyle definitely possesses a great love for Hot Pockets. It’s the only thing he keeps stocked in his fridge. I think the funniest moment of the summer was our first trip to Hibachi Grill. Some hilarious quotes came from this lunch adventure. One in particular came from none other than Lyle of course, “They have pizza AND chicken nuggets?!?!”
What have been the highlights?
Aaron: One of the biggest highlights for me was being able to experience game days at Valley Stadium. As a player, I never really pulled back the curtain to see all the moving parts behind the scenes, and understanding that now makes me appreciate everything so much more. There’s a ridiculous amount of hard work that goes on in the office during the week to prepare for our home matches, and it’s nice to physically see all that hard work come together to create a one-of-a-kind fan experience.
Collin: The highlight of my experience here was definitely the game we defeated Chicago 10-0 (on July 17) and re-claimed the Heartland Division title. There was a great group of guys on the team and I was glad to see the successes they accomplished this season.
Looking back on your internship, what are you most proud of?
Collin: I’m most proud of the team’s successful trip to Canada. Adam and Matt constantly warned me about the difficulty of this trip, but through thoughtful planning it was one of the smoothest trips. To celebrate, the front office staff had a lunch in my honor… We had B-Bop’s AND Tasty Tacos.
Aaron: And what a glorious lunch that was. I believe we tried to put the B-Bop’s inside of a Tasty Taco? That was a proud moment. But that trip would’ve scared me. I’m proud of how far my writing has come since the start of this internship. Being able to write press releases and being mentored by Adam has sharpened my writing saw, and it’s positively affected how I speak and how I communicate with others. That’s something you hold on to for a lifetime.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned here?
Collin: This internship is a perfect example of why attitude means everything. This position puts you into a lot of stressful situations. You can either choose to see your situation in a positive or negative light. The latter of the two will put a damper on your experience here. A positive attitude goes a long way. Another lesson this internship showed me was that you can’t please everyone. You have to be able to prioritize your work. Know what has to be done now and what can wait. I liked to make lists of the things I had to get done for the day and would always consider the priority level of each.
Aaron: I can’t stress that enough. Being realistic and realizing what’s a priority and what’s not is crucial. I came into this internship with what I thought were tons of cool ideas, but quickly learned we have a limited amount of time to make these things happen, and have to put our attention to things that have a clear action plan and can actually be done. We can all sit around and brainstorm grand schemes, but with such a short summer season, we have to think strategically.
What else have you gotten out of this experience?
Aaron: This experience has given me the opportunity to explore a career path that interests me in a positive environment that encourages risk-taking, supports teamwork, and exemplifies hard work. The experience I’ve gained and the things I’ve learned are invaluable.
Collin: For me, I would say this experience has provided a new perspective on the future. Coming into this internship I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after college, but now I know what I want to be doing and I feel that this internship has put me in the direction I need to be going. I’ve also gotten some memories that I will hold with me forever.
What have you found most surprising?
Collin: Everything that goes on behind the scenes. As a player, I never thought about all the details and planning that went into putting on a tournament. I just needed to know what time and what field I was playing on. Same goes for all the behind the scenes action that takes place at a Menace game. It’s really opened my eyes and given me an even greater appreciation for what this organization does.
Aaron: Exactly. I never knew how much work actually goes into the operations side of things. It’s amazing, and it opens your eyes to all the things you took for granted as a player. I’m also still surprised at the amount of affection Lyle shows to his Hot Pockets.
Thanks for all your work behind the scenes, and congratulations on surviving your time with the Menace. Be honest: If you could travel back in time, would you do it all over again?
Collin: Without a doubt. I have a lot of pride being a Menace alum and have great love for this organization. I wasn’t sure what I was going to try to do after college, but I feel like I have found my niche in the working world. I’m excited to see where this internship and the connections I’ve made here, will take me.
Aaron: Couldn’t agree more. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, and I’m so glad I jumped in. This internship has provided me with a clearer vision of what career path I’d like to pursue. Plus, like Collin said, we have a lot of pride being Menace alumni and anything we can do to give back to the community and to the organization is time well spent.
Any last comments?
Aaron: Being a former Academy player, this internship really appealed to me because I wanted to give back to the Menace and repay it for what it’s done for me. I think it’s cool that Matt, Adam, Lyle and the Menace provide this opportunity to us and allow us to directly make an impact on soccer in the community. It’s an empowering feeling, and I’d encourage other college students and former Academy players who are interested and passionate about soccer to pursue an internship here. It’s definitely a unique experience.
Collin: I couldn’t agree more with Aaron. I have great pride coming from the academy and wanted a way to give back to this organization. I couldn’t think of a better way to both give back to the Menace and gain some real world experience that will benefit me in my career after college. I’m excited to see how much this organization will grow.
Thanks, Aaron and Collin, and best wishes to you and all of our 2015 interns!
The Menace's 2015 summer internship team
Front row (L to R): Shelby Perkins (hometown: Cleghorn; college: Iowa State); Tai Stanek (Hinsdale, Ill.; Iowa State); Lindsay Smith (Decorah; Drake); Tanner Smith (Des Moines; Iowa); Aaron Wylie (Des Moines; Augsburg (Minn.)
Back row (L to R): Dannon Anderson (Nevada; Loras); Reid Marks (Ames; Iowa State); McKenna Pierce (West Des Moines; Iowa State); Leah Hutchins (Altoona; Northern Iowa); Jeff Pavelka (Johnston; Iowa); Peter Farley (West St. Paul, Minn.; Drake); Collin Hemann (Des Moines; Simpson)
Not pictured: Jordan Insisenmay (Grimes; Grand View); Ben Larson (Adel; Grand View); Maggie Madison (West Des Moines; Iowa State); A.J. Thurman (Dallas Center; DMACC)