Alumnus Supports Pittsburgh Steelers As Team Event Operations Manager
In November 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers nominated John Wodarek ’93, the team’s event operations manager, for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The award honors NFL players, coaches, and personnel committed to the military community.
“It’s an extremely rewarding experience,” says Wodarek, who majored in communication arts and political science at Allegheny College. “My father was in the U.S. Army, and I always had a passion for the military. It’s a rewarding tribute to him. He is definitely the inspiration behind all that I do with the military.”
In his role with the Steelers, Wodarek is responsible on game days for coordinating referees, broadcasting crews, team introductions, and halftime shows.
In addition, Wodarek schedules events at Acrisure Stadium and the Stage AE Building. He has had the tremendous opportunity to oversee concerts by the Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, and Garth Brooks. Wodarek has also been at the center of festivals and the filming of countless commercials and movies.
Through it all, it’s unmistakable that Wodarek enthusiastically supports veterans as the Steelers’ military liaison. He frequently coordinates reunions or behind-the-scenes experiences for families with deployed service members.
“In this position, I have the fortunate ability to impact other people’s lives through something as simple as football and entertainment,” Wodarek says. “I’ve been able to take that to another level and do things to change people’s lives for the better.”
While at Allegheny College, Wodarek spent the summer before his junior year interning for the Crawford County Fair. The next summer, before his senior year, he interned for DiCesare Engler Productions and sold out all the available venues for the season.
When the fall semester came around, Wodarek turned his talent in sales into an independent study his senior year. Between classes, Wodarek sold sponsorships for DiCesare Engler Productions with a fax machine and phone book in hand. Wodarek says both internships opened the door for his career in entertainment.
“I love what I do,” he says. “There is never a dull day. I get to meet a lot of different people and experience things I would never be able to experience or have access to. It’s an amazing journey.”
Wodarek credits his foundation in political science for helping him build relationships with local, state, and federal officials since large events often influence the region’s operation and economy. Meanwhile, his background in communication arts has continued to underpin his decisions when managing a demanding production schedule.
He also remarks that Dan Rooney, a previous majority owner of the Steelers, was a unique and kind individual who mentored him throughout his career. Wodarek advises students to “be humble and respectful. Carry yourself in the right way and things will work out for you. My mentor always taught me never to have an ego.”