ESPN Director of Communications Mike Soltys' story could inspire any intern.
Before ESPN became the international sports network giant it is today, it was a small Bristol-born business hiring its first intern, Mike Soltys, in 1980.
Today Soltys leads ESPN's communications department, traveling worldwide and experiencing exciting perks like attending the World Cup and Final Four playoffs, just to name a few.
"I've had no shortage of amazing experiences," Soltys said. "I think going to the World Cup in South Africa was the best trip so far, just to be a part of a world event like that, it was like being at the United Nations of sports."
After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a Communications Degree, Soltys worked his way up the corporate ladder, earning awards like Media Relations Professional of the Year by PR News, a communications department honor by PR Week, and the Katha Quinn Award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
He was promoted to Vice President, U.S. network communications in 2003, handling publicity for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classics, ESPNews, ESPNU, and ESPN on ABC.
Through the years Solty's has worked on the monumental launch of ESPN2, signifying the company's growth from a single network to a large multi-platform company, and recently launched a first-ever 24 hour corporate blog, espnfrontrow.com.
Although his success comes by decades of hard work, Soltys said communicating has always come naturally-his father was sports information director at UCONN.
Soltys and his wife, Teresa have four kids - a 7th grade son, 12th grade daughter, a college freshman and a 23 year-old daughter. Through the years, Soltys has enjoyed being able to take the family to sports events and games, as well as volunteering as a real-life basketball coach in town for 11 seasons.
"I think they recognize that dad's got a pretty cool job," Soltys said."I was able take my son to a space shuttle launch, where I got to know the captain of the ship and he ended coming up here for an on-air appearance, that was great."
Solty's career has not only benefited his family, but his community as well. His belief in giving back and helping others recently earned him the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce Gail DePaolo Community Spirit Award, which he'll receive during an annual dinner April 16.
Soltys serves on the Board for Bread for Life, organizes a food collection and other activities at his church, St. Dominic, and consults for Imagine Nation Children's Museum in Bristol. He's used his media magic to create a Twitter page for Bread for Life and has used his marketing prowess on former boards like the United Way.
"Mike is a very caring and compassionate person, and a great asset to Bread for Life," Bread for Life Executive Director Eldon Hafford said. "He's there to help us with food drives and in any way needed in the community."
Soltys said he's honored to receive the chamber award and share the experience with family visiting from out-of-town and out-of-state for the event.
"It's an honor, we're looking forward to it," Soltys said.