Photo by Tino Tran
The name should be familiar since Brown was brought on last year as the organization’s operations manager, working on all game day operations and overseeing production and entertainment, but this year he’ll be that much more in the spotlight as he takes the helm of the Seattle Rainmakers as General Manager.
Last year, owners-cum-general-managers Max Vitali, Gemma Perez, and Matteo Ercoli found over the course of the season that one of the most difficult things about managing a professional Ultimate team was managing the organization remotely. With similar circumstances coming for season two — the owners are tentatively planning to touch down in Seattle in January — they made the decision to hire for the role. Further, the ownership team decided to promote from within to fill the void.
“We know Rusty from last year and we are convinced that his deep knowledge of the social tissue of both the Ultimate and non-Ultimate communities in Seattle represents a valuable asset to the team,” said Vitali.
As mentioned above, Brown spent the last year working as the operations manager for the Seattle Rainmakers, but he also has been employed as operations manager with DiscNW, the regional body for all things Ultimate in the Pacific Northwest, for a number of years. Not only that, Brown has also been the program coordinator and head coach for the Ultimate program at Garfield High School in Seattle, WA.
Brown also put in some significant time as a player, going to college championships with the University of Washington Sundodgers and participating in the Northwest Open and Mixed Club Regionals after stints with Tsunami and Thunder, two Seattle coed club teams, and Downpour, a Seattle men’s club. Before that, Brown played for Garfield High School himself and was also active with MoHo, a high school club team.
“It’s going to be very hard for us not to be there everyday, but we will be in Seattle as much as possible to support the team,” said Perez. “We’re very lucky to have Rusty there.”
Brown’s success last year — booking not one but two premier stadiums, securing acts for national anthems and halftime, DJs, etc. — proved that he could do exceptional job at keeping the fans engaged. As the inaugural season wore on and Rainmakers games became more and more exciting, attracting denser crowds and louder cheers, Brown flexed his operational muscles and impressed the owners so much that they began considering him for the GM job.
“This coming season is about balance,” said Brown, “balance with players’ expectations, balance with resources, and balance with benefits to our fans. I will be focusing on what went well throughout the league over the last year and how I can adapt things other teams did outside of the games to get people into the seats.”
The Rainmakers ownership couldn’t be more confident in their decision in hiring Brown as the team’s general manager.
“Rusty is already working on building up a great team,” said Perez. “We are really excited to see how far he is going to take the team.”
“He is the right fit to achieve the ambitious goals that the Rainmakers and the MLU are shooting for in Seattle,” Vitali added.
“My job is to make the organization a jewel of the MLU,” said Brown, “something that other teams look toward and say, ‘We want that for our players/fans.’ This means finding the best venue, best training staff, facilities, concessions, hosts, halftime shows, etc. These are things that my team and I will be working on from the get-go.”