Jason Heggemeyer has followed his two great loves around the country. Lucky for him, they went to the same place.
Heggemeyer was raised a fan of Detroit sports teams like the Pistons and the Lions and began absorbing sports whenever he could. He graduated from Western Michigan University and was working as a graduate assistant in athletics when he was offered a job at the MU ticket office in 1998.
What he didn’t know when he started is that his first love would introduce him to his greatest one.
Amy Pippin was a student at MU when she met Heggemeyer.
“He was very outgoing, and he’s very funny,” she says.
They were already dating when he took a position at the University of Pittsburgh’s ticket office as the director of sales and tickets.
“It was a promotion, and it was a chance to see a different way of doing things in a different program,” he says. “It was good management experience for me.”
Heggemeyer and Pippin maintained a long-distance relationship until they married in July 2002.
Two years later, the desire to be closer to family and their ties to MU drew them back to Columbia. In May 2004, Heggemeyer returned to the ticket office as associate director of ticket operations, and Amy became the assistant curator for the Boone County Historical Society.
“I knew the whole time he was here that he and his wife both loved Columbia,” says Jim Earle, Heggemeyer’s boss at Pittsburgh. “Professionally, I was disappointed for us because I knew we were losing somebody who had made a tremendous impact.”
Heggemeyer has already handled tickets and customers for football’s Big 12 opener against Colorado, Cher’s concert to kick off the new Paige Sports Arena, multiple home games in soccer and volleyball and Bob Dylan’s announcement that he would be playing at the Hearnes Center later this year. That was all in just one week.
“Half our day is spent reacting to things that happen during the day,” he says. “Most of my job is not planned for me.”
He’s in charge of managing sales, marketing, finances and other employees. When there are events outside of business hours, he’s usually there. He also handles much of customer service.
“Jason is very good with people,” says his supervisor, Mario Moccia. “When you’re in that role, you come across a wide selection of stakeholders. You have to know how to convey your message to all those different types of folks.”
Heggemeyer likes the day-to-day work, but says the payoff usually comes later.
“There’s a satisfying feeling when you’re at a football game and you can legitimately know that 90 percent of those tickets went through you personally.”
In a crowd of around 60,000, that’s a big impact. Having worked at three colleges, Heggemeyer knows why his job is important.
“The university is such a big part of the community and for the most part, after people graduate, their biggest attachment to the university is attending sporting events. We’re that link.”
Sound like a lot of pressure? Heggemeyer doesn’t mind.
“I operate a mile a minute,” he says, smiling slightly. “I like lots of things going on at the same time.”
But just in case working up to 60 hours a week isn’t enough, Heggemeyer makes sure he’s available to support his wife as well. He admits he’s not a natural fan of the arts, and acknowledges that she isn’t the biggest sports fanatic. Still, his eyes glow as he talks about her.
“I think what makes this balance work so well is our desire to support the other person in their career and personal interests. It is nice to step outside the box once in a while and enjoy something outside of our normal realm.”
They find creative ways to be together. She’ll attend sports events he’s working; he visits her at gallery openings.
“We value our time together, and it’s fun to see the other person in their own environment, which is often very different than our own,” he says. “It definitely keeps our lives fresh.”
His wife says even when they’re not together, they support each other. She makes an effort to know baseball scores. He sends her information about tickets to events that might interest her.
“It opens up our eyes to each other’s interests, to what other things are out there in the world,” she says.
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