I really need you all to understand that there are some pretty amazing woman who have played college sports. Legitimately amazing. Jacqueline McDevitt is one of those amazing women. She’s gone from lacrosse novice to expert coach and business owner in a matter of 10, short years. In following her passion for sports and branding, she has developed an ingenious way for sports fans across America to better enjoy their coveted tailgates. Check out what she shared with GladiatHers.com.
Thanks for spending some time with us Jacqueline. So you played lacrosse. Where’d you play and how’d you get involved with it?
I played lacrosse at Long Island University (LIU). I actually grew up playing field hockey and had earned a walk-on spot at Hofstra. Because of financial aid, I decided to do two years at community college first. So I went to Gloucester County College and played basketball, softball and soccer (even though I had never played before). When it was time to transition, a friend of mine told me she was starting a lacrosse program at LIU and that the coach used to be a field hockey coach. The coach wanted to talk to me about playing, so I visited LIU and got a scholarship after sending her my field hockey film.
Wow, from never having played until your junior year in college, to earning a Division I scholarship. Incredible. Was it difficult to make the transition from field hockey to lacrosse?
I was initially resistant to it. I had been playing since I was in the 4th grade, so I was really set in my ways; I was stubborn. But once I got the hang of lacrosse, it was like being it a squat position your entire life and then picking your shoulders and head up, standing up straight and seeing the world from a whole different perspective. So once I got it, I never went back to field hockey again.
That sounds so transformative. You’ve gone from student-athlete to being on the business and coaching side of the sport as well. You must have a pretty unique perspective.
Yes, I’ve been coaching part-time and full time since 2006. I’ve coached in every NCAA Division, and I started 3 lacrosse programs from the ground up at Occidental College, Caldwell University and Bryn Athyn College. Before going to Oxy, I also worked for a lacrosse equipment manufacturing firm called DeBeer Lacrosse. Most recently, I was named the head coach at Holy Family University here in Philadelphia.
You know having the opportunity to work in all levels of the sport has really allowed me to be a genuine mentor to the women I’ve coached for the last ten years and to stand before groups of people, whether it be recruits, parents, etc., and be confident about what I have to say about the sport.
Well in addition to mastering the lacrosse world, you’ve also found the time to create a pretty unique business surrounding the great American pastime of tailgating. Tell our readers about Phan Cave.
My business partner, Colleen O’Hara (two-time All-American lacrosse player), and I literally had a brainstorming session about how we could use a website that she bought, phancave.com, right after the MLB created its Fan Cave store in Times Square. After tossing around some ideas, we came up with the concept of a mobile man cave…mobile service tailgates. Colleen was heavily into the tailgate culture at her alma mater, Penn State, so she knew that people would love to have somebody else set-up and clean up their tailgates. Phan Cave allows our customers to enjoy tailgating without the hassle. Our motto, is “Just Show Up.”
We started off really small. Our first tailgate was just a tent, a cooler and some hoagies for a bachelorette party. Then we designed and custom built a 30-foot tailgate trailer that has 3 70-inch TVs, two private bathrooms with running water, a refrigerator, a freezer, pop-out bars, x-boxes, and inflatable couches.
Wow…I NEED to tailgate with Phan Cave. So what’s the reception been like?
Honestly, initially we failed. We believed, “if you tweet it, they will come,” but our first 3 months, it was awful. We wasted money and couldn’t get anyone to come. So being athletes we immediately went into “Plan B”/Let’s Fix This Mode. We pivoted and turned our attention to corporate clients and that’s where we’ve found our niche. Our first client was the Best Buy where we bought all of our equipment to outfit our trailers. We did a Sunday Night Football tailgate for the manager who wanted to show his employees appreciation. It was a hit. It was amazing. And it’s really snowballed from there. Since then, we’ve worked with big companies like Pinterest, Marriott and SugarHouse Casino, and we work with small companies like construction, real estate, pharmaceutical and software firms. These companies want to entertain in an economical, personal way. We’re perfect for that.
So how has your experience as a student-athlete informed and impacted your life as a business owner?
I am so thankful for my experience as a student-athlete. I would say that being a student-athlete has really instilled in me resiliency. At any given turn you can be faced with hiccups, obstacles and failures. The resiliency and commitment to hard work that I developed as a student-athlete have been so essential to our success. Our company is so laborious, so the habit I developed of being in shape and physically pushing through hard work has also been key. Finally, the ability to make quick, high-pressure decisions has been clutch for finding success with Phan Cave. Our ability to be decisive is so important.
What advice do you have for woman in the process of transitioning from life as a student-athlete?
First, take a breath. Second, don’t be too hard on yourself but maintain the same hunger you had for your sport. Keep cultivating that hunger by finding things that satiate it; rather it be with sports or something academic or professional. Third, find things that you love to do. Lean towards the things you’re great at without forgetting to work on your weaknesses. Relish in what your great at and make that you’re passion. It truly will make a difference in feeling rewarded even when you’re working hard.
Great advice. How can people keep up with and book Phan Cave for their next tailgate?
Thank you so much for talking to us, Jacqueline. Your willingness to try new things and belief in perseverance has made you an inspiration to so many. And your determination to stay true to sports and yourself have allowed you to introduce so many women to a great sport and forge successfully into an untapped business market. You are a true GladiatHer!