Sergio Perciballi has gone all the way from the soccer pitches of Leamington to the professional fields of southern California, rubbing elbows with international superstars like David Beckham and Robbie Rogers along the way.
An account executive with the L.A. Galaxy whose job is to help grow the sport of Major League Soccer in a territory from Los Angeles to San Diego, Perciballi credits much of his success to graduating from one of the top ranked sport management programs in the world.
“It really prepares you for what’s to come if you’re working in the sports industry,” he said of the university’s masters in sports management degree, the only Canadian program to appear in the most recent Top 25 of Sport Business International magazine’s Masters of Sport program rankings. “It definitely prepared me for the work I do here.”
Perciballi grew up in Leamington and after high school went to Lambton College for a sports and recreation administration diploma, earning him two years of credit for his bachelor’s degree in human kinetics, which he earned in 2008. He finished his masters of sport management degree in 2010, completing a thesis on ethnicity and local soccer clubs in the Windsor area during the 1970s.
He compared the atmosphere in the human kinetics program to a close knit family, describing it as always “lively and vibrant.”
“Everyone wants you to succeed,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine going to any other sport management program in Canada.”
After graduating, he moved to Toronto for an internship with a non-profit organization which uses sport to help development in impoverished nations. In 2012, he was hired by the MLS national sales centre in Minnesota, where he sold season tickets, suites and group packages for all 20 of the league’s teams. One of the group’s top performers, he was one of two people selected to go and work with one of the teams.
He interviewed with Chicago, Vancouver and Los Angeles, but decided to go to the Galaxy where he works with local amateur soccer teams, organizing player appearances, fan nights at games and other special events. He joined the club after the team won its 2011 championship, but was there for the next one, and even got a championship ring.
“Everyone on staff got one,” said Perciballi.
At a couple of those fan events, he got the chance to work with Beckham.
“He was great to work with,” he said. “He was great with people. He just has a certain way, and he was very pleasant to be around.”
And while Perciballi’s job sounds like a dream gig, it’s not the only option available to graduates of the program, according to Scott Martyn, his former academic supervisor.
“Our grads find work in everything from the sporting goods and apparel industry to sport governing bodies and municipal recreation programs,” he said. “Sergio has been successful because of a lot of hard work and because we’ve got a tremendous team here that’s devoted to ensuring our students get everything they need to help them succeed.”