Gearing Up: Student Prepares to Tackle Business Degree

By Ed Moorhouse

Steve Yankanich will pursue his bachelor of arts in business administration through a unique program whereby he’ll take Rutgers classes at Camden County College’s Blackwood campus.

Steve Yankanich will pursue his bachelor of arts in business administration through a unique program whereby he’ll take Rutgers classes at Camden County College’s Blackwood campus.

In almost every seat in the stadium, every barstool in the region, and in front of every television at home, the familiar Eagles midnight green — and sometimes Kelly green, for the nostalgic fans — is worn by passionate fans rooting for their team from the end of summer through the chill of winter.

It’s football season, and you can’t cross the street without running into someone in an Eagles jersey, cap, or t-shirt. It was Steve Yankanich’s job to make sure of it.

When the Washington Township resident was assistant director of merchandise for the Philadelphia Eagles, Yankanich outfitted the NFL’s most dedicated and notorious fan base with the latest gear and ensured that each man cave in the Philadelphia area was decorated in wall-to-wall Eagles memorabilia.

“It’s amazing what you can put an Eagles logo on,” Yankanich says. “I’d look at something and ask if it was even going to sell, but these passionate fans see it and want to put it in their homes.”

From wall clocks to commemorative pins, Yankanich sold it all.

After working for the Eagles for 11 years, Yankanich, who earned his associate’s degree from Camden County College in May, is gearing up in a different way these days. A graduate of Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, he’s now pursuing his bachelor of arts in business administration at Rutgers University–Camden. He also plans to pursue his master of business administration at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden.

Yankanich will pursue his bachelor’s degree through a unique program whereby he’ll take Rutgers classes at Camden County College’s Blackwood campus.

“It was an easy decision for me to choose Rutgers–Camden,” says Yankanich, whose wife Julie earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Rutgers–Camden in 1999 and 2004, respectfully. Julie Yankanich currently teaches at Camden County College.

“In many ways, I feel like a kid again where I’m back in school and I don’t know what I’ll do in the future. I always felt that the academic side of my career was missing and I’m excited to have this opportunity to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

Prior to joining the Eagles, Yankanich worked for a national distributor for which he sold merchandise for championship-winning teams in baseball, football, basketball, hockey, NASCAR, and other sports. That experience led to his job with the Eagles, and he not only sold team merchandise through the stadium pro shop and two satellite stores, but merchandise for special events like concerts held at Lincoln Financial Field. He also had a hand in overseeing online merchandise sales.

“One of the best things I took away from that experience was the fan interaction and seeing their passion and enthusiasm,” says Yankanich, who says he’s a proud Eagles fan. “I wanted to focus on the fan experience and capture what that meant. Even if the fans show up and the Eagles lose, they still walk away having had a great experience.”

The ability to connect with customers and the community is the key to having success in any business, Yankanich says.

“I think if you don’t make that connection and you’re just in it to make money, you haven’t done your job,” he says.

Yankanich currently works as an independent contractor managing the sale of merchandise at special events, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which took place Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio. It was there where he had a chance to meet legendary former players and Hall of Famers like Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers.

He loves his job, but admits he’s unsure of what lies ahead.

“In large part, my goal was to just compliment my career with a degree,” he says. “Then, I’ll see what kinds of opportunities exist after that. I don’t really have an end goal. We’ll see where it takes me.”

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