Monday, December 11, 2017
Business

Glazer daughter working to strengthen team's ties to community

From her office, which includes a panoramic view of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice facility, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz can watch all the players as they prepare for games.

On this day, however, with the fields sitting quiet, she turns her focus to a recent encounter with children at the Jackson Heights NFL YET Center. Kassewitz, 48, begins to choke up as she reflects on what it meant — to her, to the players and team officials who were there, and especially to the kids they worked with.

"There was a tremendous energy in that place, which I thought was wonderful,'' said Kassewitz, her words halting as she chokes back tears. "One experience like that can change somebody's life."

The emotion may come as a surprise to many. The Glazer family has owned the Bucs since 1995, when Malcolm Glazer, the family's late patriarch, purchased the team. It is not a family known for showing its feelings publicly.

Not so with Kassewitz, who is pushing hard to improve the team's bonds with the community.

Since moving here last year from Palm Beach, she has mingled with fans at the team's annual Women of RED event, talked to students at the Sulphur Springs K-8 school and greeted young professionals during one of the team's newest outreach efforts.

It's more than appearance. Kassewitz also is making many of the decisions, relying on focus groups, research and a personal perspective to captain the ship.

Her resolve got tested in 2015 when the team's new Women of RED initiative received immediate blowback from local and national media who called it an embarrassingly sexist effort to teach women about football. Critics were especially amused by the references to fashion, culinary creations and Pinterest.

Backed by research the team had done, Kassewitz remained steadfast in her belief the effort would prove popular despite some clumsy language. A month later, the launch event drew a crowd of almost 1,500 women.

An equal number came out this year. When Kassewitz wasn't talking to fans, she stepped back and overlooked the throng in the Bucs' club lounge at Raymond James Stadium, making sure the event met her detailed specifications.

The gathering reflected an ethnic, socio-economic and age range seldom seen at area events. From red dresses and black pumps to jeans and red Reeboks, it reflected the city's diversity in an uncommon manner.

"I wanted it to be inclusive of everybody," said Kassewitz, who is co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation. "That was a conscious effort on our part."

Kassewitz's determination to sweeten the team's community relations reflects her personal interests as a woman, a mother of three children and a former young professional. But it also sheds light on a passion for football honed by growing up in a house with five brothers, and a business savvy crafted by everyday lessons from her father.

"My father worked 24 hours a day," Kassewitz said. "That was his love. It wasn't work, it was his life. So growing up in that atmosphere, it was phenomenal. You're just always thinking that way. How can you do something better? How can you achieve something?''

Kassewitz seems determined to reach every imaginable demographic in the community. The team has developed a traveling exhibit for its women's initiative and a new Bucs Squad Experience aimed squarely at kids and families. The team continues to build programs that connect with military personnel and veterans. New efforts will include a "faith and football" outreach.

It'll all be under the marketing umbrella Bucs for a Better Bay.

Through it all, Kassewitz says she remains humbled by the platform that owning the team has given her and her family. She's is undoubtedly ambitious, but her heartfelt emotions may prove to be the key ingredient in finding new ways to connect with the community.

That's all I'm saying.

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