Blazing trails in the professional sports industry

July 2, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—When P.J. Fleck brought Jessica Larmony (’15, M.A. sports management) to Western Michigan University with him in 2013, the Caribbean born East Coaster wasn’t quite sure what to think of heading to the Midwest, but she quickly settled in and started making a name for herself. Today, she is the scouting operations manager for the Detroit Lions and continues to blaze a trail through a male-dominated industry for women and People of Color.

Larmony was hired by Fleck as director of internal football operations and later became the director of football operations, a role which entailed dealing with not only the players but also community outreach, game day operations and the business side of things. At the time, she was one of only three women with the position at the Division I level.

While working for the Broncos football team, she met Kathy Beauregard, the Athletic Director at WMU. “Kathy served as a mentor to me during my time at Western. She encouraged me to pursue my masters and didn't take no for an answer, stressing the importance of the opportunity it can yield regardless of if I continued to pursue a career in the sports industry or not,” Larmony said. Having a female support her in a traditionally male space encouraged her to pursue her dreams and overcome the adversity she faced.

In her masters program, Larmony found more support in professor Dr. James Lewis. His mother had been a Dean at Rutgers University in the 1970’s (incidentally, the same school Larmony attended for her undergraduate degree and the place where she got her start working in football) and he helped Larmony see a bigger picture her perspective at the time didn’t allow. She also learned how to manage her time, a skill that has been essential to her success!

“I was working full time and simultaneously balancing my coursework. Learning to balance a rigorous work-life with school was challenging. Anything in life worth having does not come easy, and how you spend and balance your time is indicative of your success as it serves as a reflection to how hungry you are in pursuit of your goals,” said Larmony.

And she is hungry!

In 2016, she was hired as the Lion’s community relations coordinator, a role she kept for two seasons before moving into her current role as scouting operations manager in 2018. In her current role, she provides direct support to the Lions general manager and executive staff and handles logistics and operations for onboarding new players coming from the collegiate level. During the season, she fills roster hole and during the offseason, she helps the team prepare for the NFL Draft. She aspires to someday serve in a senior executive role in a front office and enjoys opening up space along the way.

"Representation matters. I'm a woman of color, and if I can open up spaces and champion for other women and for other People of Color, that's important to me," Larmony said. "I've been blessed to have many opportunities and to have people champion for me. So, it is not only my honor, but also my duty to help do that for other women and People of Color that come after me."

Dr. Lewis loves telling her story to his current students, female and male alike, and there’s no doubt Larmony serves as an excellent role model for what is possible in today’s world. Her advice for current students?

“Network. It sounds cliché, however it’s such an important element of the business. Relationships coupled with hard work are paramount to success. Additionally, be willing to navigate outside of your comfort zone, the sports industry is fast paced, so finding ways to set yourself apart, attain new skillsets and try on new roles will help in the long run.”

Jessica Larmony, the sky’s the limit and we can’t wait to see what you do next!