Why I became a Super Bowl spy

I need to come clean: I am not a sports fan. That knock on art people being like cats around water on game day? Guilty as charged. I’m happier in the galleries at Mia any day.

But when the Super Bowl announced an effort to recruit 10,000 volunteers to help greet and guide the one million visitors expected to flood the Twin Cities, I saw an opportunity.

My job as the Visitor Experience Strategist at Mia is to welcome museum visitors and guide their journey by uniting and motivating our wonderful front-of-house staff and volunteers.I thought there would be plenty to learn about volunteer support from the biggest sporting event ever. And I wanted to share the red-hot hospitality of my home state, even if the temperatures plunge to Arctic depths by Super Bowl LII.

My Crew52 station at the Super Bowl's volunteer headquarters.

My Crew 52 station at the Super Bowl’s volunteer headquarters.

So if I’m not exactly a spy, I may be an imposter. Consider that I applied to volunteer for “Crew 52” on the very last day I could. And when I interviewed for one of the last slots, I wore… gray. It didn’t even occur to me that Vikings purple was the right fashion play. Do-oh!

Before my Crew 52 interview, I did make up a favorite Super Bowl moment and player, just in case I was asked. But the team captain who interviewed me never mentioned football. They saw my enthusiasm for helping people and signed me right up. I was assigned to Volunteer Headquarters Support, where I will be on hand to assist other volunteers.

Between my interview, the orientation, and training meetings, what I experienced was an emphasis on spirit, service, security, and, most of all, community with a capital C. The local committee created a special on-site feel that gave me a sense of excitement and belonging. Each touchpoint had the bam-bam energy of a pep rally.

That fan-first approach was familiar to me: it’s echoed in Mia’s emphasis on our visitors. The museum’s volunteers are empathy people, skilled at meeting visitors where they are and at inspiring wonder through the power of art.

My own takeaway, as an art-world imposter among football fans, is in the value of creating that special community feel. I hope to infuse what I’ve experienced as a member of Crew 52 beyond the museum’s lobby and up into the galleries.

So when I put on my uniform and check into my post at Volunteer HQ, I’ll be rooting for the biggest win of all: touchdown customer service. Skol!