From left, Amanda Chase â12, Casey Capello â12, Tom Pasquali â12 and Dennis Lock â08 at the Miami Dolphinsâ Sun Life Stadium.

A Spike for SLU

Four young alumni find themselves working behind the scenes with a legendary NFL team.


Ryan Deuel

What is the probability that four people—three from the same graduating class—would end up working for an organization of approximately 200 people located 1,500 miles from the university they attended?

Two of them, Dennis Lock ’08 and Thomas Pasquali ’12, work at the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins’ training camp in Davie, Florida, in the sports analytics department. Let’s rephrase that … Tom and Dennis ARE the Dolphins’ sports analytics department.

Lock joined the Dolphins in the summer of 2014, conducting analytics for the team’s Player Personnel department in Football Operations.

“The new General Manager came in and wanted to introduce analytics as part of their new approach to scouting new players and coaches,” says Lock, who was hired out of graduate school at Iowa State and continues to work on his Ph.D. in statistics.

Lock was immediately tasked with bringing on another sports analyst and learned of Pasquali from his parents, Robin and Patti Fraser Lock, St. Lawrence professors of statistics and mathematics, respectively. Pasquali earned a master’s degree in statistics, after graduating with his bachelor’s in mathematics from St. Lawrence, just as Lock had four years before. Pasquali had always wanted to work in sports analytics, but in baseball, especially after a short internship with the New York Yankees following his graduate program. That’s about the time he received Lock’s call.

“I had never thought about working in football analytics because it’s so new,” says Pasquali, who played baseball at St. Lawrence. “It’s been around in baseball for quite some time; you have these one-on-one scenarios like a batter against a pitcher. But in football, you’re looking at all 11 players on the field at the same time for every play.
Lock and Pasquali provide just about everything statistics- and analytics-related to the team, including recapping games, looking ahead to opposing teams to supplement game plans, and providing analysis on free agents. They present that information to coaches, who often digest it and make it available to players.

“What set Tom apart from the other people I interviewed was not his statistical ability but his ability to interact with people,” Lock says. “It doesn’t matter how good the analysis is if you can’t convey the message to the decision-makers in a coherent way.”

Lock concentrates on offense, Pasquali on defense. “We’re having a friendly competition to see which unit performs better,” Lock says. “Then the loser has to buy the winner a round a golf.”

Neat story, right? But, it doesn’t stop there.

Meet Amanda Chase ’12, who works for the Miami Dolphins Foundation as director of operations and logistics for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, a bike-riding event that raises money for cancer research and treatment at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Last year, Amanda helped the Dolphins raise $4.65 million; next year their goal has been set at $5.75 million, of which 100 percent is donated to the cancer center.

The whole thing is based off the Pan-Mass Challenge, which raised $45 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston last year. Chase’s parents have been involved in the PMC since before she was born, and Chase interned for the challenge throughout her four years at St. Lawrence.

“I was doing one last internship for PMC when the people from the Dolphins came to see that event,” she says. “When I met them, they asked me, ‘What are you doing now that your internship is over? Why don’t you help us with our event?’ I never thought I’d leave Boston or the Northeast, so I said, ‘three months in South Florida, sure, why not?’”

Three months turned into three years last September. Chase spends most of her time mainly behind the scenes, planning routes and concerts as well as budgeting the event from beginning to execution. 

While at St. Lawrence, she played soccer and minored in sport studies and exercise science, which fueled her interest in a sports career. However, it was her major in psychology that she feels prepared her most for her job.

“As a psychology major, you learn a ton of things about people, the way they work and how to talk to people,” Chase says. “(Being part of) the community at St. Lawrence and being a psych major are where I picked up most of my people skills. That helped me not only get a job but also deal with different people every day.”

Finally, there’s Casey Capello ’12. She had been working for a sports marketing company out of Boston when she interviewed with the Dolphins. Preparing for her interview, she logged onto LinkedIn and found that Chase was already working for the team.

“I reached out to her to get a behind-the-scenes look at the culture and the company and the direction they were heading in,” she says. “Ironically, the same happened with Tom, who had gotten my phone number and taken the same approach I took with Amanda. And now we’re all here!”

Capello started in the entry-level sales program, where she and five other new hires had eight to 12 months to prove themselves. She proved her worth in just six months and moved into an accounting executive/business development position.

“I came down here with the mindset that I was going to work as hard as I could and try to get promoted into a permanent position,” she says. “Luckily, that happened. I went from calling on a lot of consumers to calling on businesses throughout South Florida. Not only am I hosting businesses at the stadium; I’m also going out and meeting with (their management) one-on-one.”

For the three 2012 grads, especially, there are two common St. Lawrence themes to their story. The first is their affiliation with athletics: baseball for Pasquali, soccer for Chase, and basketball for Capello.

“Being a two-year captain and developing leadership skills—dealing with conflict, being approachable and being a hard worker and staying focused—kept me disciplined and flexible enough to think quickly on my feet, (and that) has helped me professionally,” Capello says.

The second common thread is the skill they developed delivering presentations. Whether it is sports analytics, a business plan or a sales pitch, all four say that their experience giving presentations in class and speaking in front of people helped prepare them for the job functions they perform today.

“I tell students all the time who email me ‘what are the most important things in analytics?’ that it’s learning how to explain your report not to people with math backgrounds but to coaches and GMs who may have zero math background,” Pasquali says.

While the three 2012 grads knew of each other, they weren’t necessarily close friends … not that that mattered much.

“At St. Lawrence, in that small community, you kind of know everybody,” Capello says. “It’s crazy that in an organization of 200 people, there are four of us here from St. Lawrence,” Chase says. “When Casey and I found that out, we said ‘this is so funny, we’ve got to tell St. Lawrence.’”

What are the chances? Based on what these alumni say and have experienced, they may be pretty good for Laurentians.

TIP: To learn more about St. Lawrence’s new major in statistics, visit stlawu.edu/statistics

The American Theater in Canton, NY.
A postcard from Miami, Florida.