Amplifying alumni: From Lightning fan to production manager

USF alumna Felicia Sablan grew up watching the Tampa Bay Lightning play. Now, she’s living her dream by working with the team. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FELICIA SABLAN

Growing up just outside of Tampa in Brandon, Florida, USF alumna Felicia Sablan said she’d always had a desire to work in sports. 

After graduating from USF in 2017 with a mass communications degree, Sablan was able to live out her dream. She’s now the manager of production operations for Amalie Arena’s Vinik Sports Group and works with the Lightning.

“I have lasting relationships with the people who impacted my time at USF, some of whom I still work with now,” Sablan said. 

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Looking back on previous successful seasons with the Lightning, Sablan said her experiences have helped her grow in her profession since her days at USF. Her contributions to the coverage of Stanley Cup runs during championship seasons was a milestone for her. 

“Being in the control room and directing while winning the Stanley Cup and being there [at Amalie Arena] for the post-game celebration is my favorite experience I’ve had in my job so far,” Sablan said. 

Sablan helps with many aspects of game nights that help tie things together. She oversees production operations, manages content intake for Amalie Arena events – such as concerts or holiday specials – and is the control room director for Lightning game nights.

Sablan said her job continues to engage her through different daily tasks. One of Sablan’s favorite jobs includes the fan-favorite “lookalike cam” during home games.

Tasks like these keep Sablan’s job fresh and challenging, and continually give her the chance to gain new experiences.

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John Franzone, a senior vice president with Vinik Sports Group, said Sablan’s impact on the company has been incredibly influential. He said Sablan’s work contributed to the team’s ranking as second overall in the league for game presentation in a 2022 NHL team survey.

She’s quickly built a great reputation for herself inside of the game presentation industry and we’re lucky to have her,” Franzone said. 

Having been a Lightning fan since a young age, Sablan said she enjoys getting the privilege of being a part of game nights. 

Sablan said she’s been a Tampa Bay Lightning fan even before she started college. She remembers watching former Lightning center Alex Killorn as a highschooler, not knowing one day she would be working alongside him and the team.

Killorn is now in his first season in his career out of Tampa, as a team member of the Anaheim Ducks.

Sablan said she appreciates partaking in the community fan experience that her position enables, remembering the young fan she once was. 

Her internship with USF Athletics was a “springboard” opportunity to her professional career with the Lightning, Sablan said. 

The relationships she made at USF have been lasting connections, and she still works with some of the people who she met during her time with USF Athletics.

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“Every experience with USF has led me to where I am now,” Sablan said.  

Beginning her time at USF, Sablan knew she wanted to specialize in PR. However, upon applying for a Bullsvision internship the course of her career was changed. It was then that Sablan realized she desired to work in production and game presentation. 

Franzone said the real life experience she entered the job with made her stand out.

“She is a passionate, tireless worker who sweats the details and efforts to put forth her best with every project,” Franzone said.  

Sablan advised current USF students to follow their interests closely, but also explore outside them.

“Be careful with the opportunities you pursue but also be open minded – you don’t know what roads will present what,” Sablan said.