For The Love of The Game: Shadowing Rüsty Navarrette
At every Chivas USA game, you can spot members of the club staff running around The Home Depot Center, but what exactly are they doing?
One of those scurrying staffers is Richard “Rusty” Navarrette, the Chivas USA Creative Services Coordinator. In addition to ads, television spots and all of the club’s graphics, on game days Rusty is in charge overseeing the performances in ChivaTown and “Jerseys off our Backs” promotion.
For a typical Saturday match he usually gets to the stadium around 9:00 a.m. depending on how much work needs to be done prior to kickoff. He gets the game script on Friday from Operations and sets about creating any new graphics that are required for the following day. These graphics must be given to production staff at least five hours before the match to allow adequate time to get them into the Diamond Vision and LED board system.
If you looked closely during the pre-game entertainment in ChivaTown, you may have seen Rusty watching off to the side of the main stage. Once he is done with graphics that is where he goes to make sure the performances go smoothly because, according to Rusty, “It’s important to pump up the fans before the game and give them a family experience.”
As part of his coordination duties for ChivaTown, Rusty calls the pre-game entertainment (whether it be a band or a dance group) to ensure that they are prepared for their performance and ensure that he answers any last minute questions. When they arrive, Rusty is waiting outside the stadium to greet them, helping them bring equipment inside.
As bands set up and do a sound check, Rusty figures out the timeline of the performance, taking into account the two regular ChivaGirls dance numbers that fans have come to expect in ChivaTown.
Ten minutes after the gates open, the band or group will begin their performance and Rusty will invite fans to listen and watch the entertainment. Oftentimes he enjoys the entertainment and admits, “Sometimes depending on the band, I have to hold myself back from dancing because I have to look professional.”
The key to picking pre-game entertainment is diversity, explains Rusty. “We try to bring in entertainment that is suited for all fans, no matter their background. We’ve had English and Spanish rock, cover bands, salsa, cumbia, alternative, ska, lots of different genres.”
After performances and equipment break down finish, Rusty has a moment to sit down and regroup for his next job, because as soon as the first half is done, preparations for the Jerseys off our Backs promotion begin.
For the past two seasons, eleven lucky fans at the end of each home game have received a player’s jersey taken directly off their back; hence the programs name “Jersey’s Off Our Backs.” During the first half of the match, fans can go to ChivaTown and enter to be one of the eleven to receive a jersey.
Near the end of the game, Rusty coordinates the winners and leads them on to the field where they wait for players to join them. After all winners have received a jersey Rusty escorts them back off the field and runs off to ensure that everything in ChivaTown has been taken away before calling it a night.
Rusty may sound like the hardest working man in show business, but he does it for the love of the game. “I grew up living and breathing soccer, playing soccer on the streets of Lomas de San Lorenzo Tezonco [in Mexico City]. I don’t consider this a job, it’s my passion.”