Everything comes in mega proportions at the National Sports Center.
The center’s hockey arena (aptly named the Schwan Super Rink) houses a stunning eight regulation-sized rinks. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes the National Sports Center as having the largest soccer complex in the world – 52 fields with plans for expansion pushing the number into the 70s.
Special events here are, of course, Texas-sized productions.
“If you don’t like special events, you are not going to last very long here, because that is what we do,” said Barclay Kruse, the NSC’s Chief Communications Officer.
Scott Clasen has worked at the National Sports Center – located just north of the Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn. – on and off for 22 years. Events such as the USA Cup (billed by the NSC as the “greatest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere”) fall right into his wheelhouse.
“Right from the start he fit in really well with the event culture,” Kruse said about Clasen, who started as an intern fresh out of college and now, as the Director of Marketing, reports to Kruse. “He did well working on events, and that was always something that has been true all the way over the years.”
Right from the start he fit in really well with the event culture."
-- Barclay Kruse of the National Sports Center on Scott Clasen
Clasen always has been comfortable performing under the bright lights. He played football at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School and Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) College. And while he turned heads initially at the National Sports Center with his tireless work ethic, he later established himself as an invaluable presence with his development of the NSC’s fledgling website.
Clasen, who left the National Sports Center to pursue a degree in education and start a teaching career at Burnsville High School, returned to the NSC when his son, Sam, was born and the school district cut his position. He worked part-time from home on the center’s website.
Name: Scott Clasen | Age: 44
Resides in: Minneapolis
Family: Wife, Tia; son, Samuel, 9, and stepdaughter, Alana, 27.
Job: Director of Marketing at National Sports Center
Interests: Cycling, golf, rowing, running, watching European soccer.
Clasen played football at Eden Prairie High and Gustavus Adolphus College. He landed an internship at the National Sports Center out of college, then went back to school (University of St. Thomas) to get his masters in Education. He taught for three years at Burnsville High School, then returned to the National Sports Center, where one of his duties was to serve as the organization's webmaster. He recently returned from a business trip to China (the NSC is recruiting Chinese teams to play in the USA Cup) and is spearheading makeovers of all the organization's sites to responsive designs.
“I self taught Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS and all that sort of stuff,” Clasen said. “Then it dovetailed into coming back full time once my son was going to school, and it has kind of gone from there.”
In 2005 the National Sports Center was still using a site that allowed only one person to update it using Dreamweaver. Clasen spent the next year redesigning the site, with he emphasis on overhauling the information architecture.
“I just read books and figured things out,” said Clasen, who served as a graphic designer creating brochures and other promotional material during his early years at the NSC. “When I was really studying hard how to create good websites, a great book that I found was called 'Don’t Make Me Think.' It talked less about the visuals but more about copy.
“I find too many websites have too much copy. And ours even could use a thorough trimming.”
I just read books and figured stuff out."
The look of the site has changed dramatically since it was moved onto the Sport Ngin platform more than two years ago. And the days of single-person updates are long gone. But the way the site’s content is organized is still pretty much the same as how Clasen structured it all those years ago.
Clasen’s website responsibilities have diminished some over the years, but he still oversees quality control, ensuring there's consistency in the design and content.
“One of the things I loved about Sport Ngin initially was that the text box element, you didn’t have a choice of changing the font size, or changing the color of the font,” Clasen said. “And that has actually just changed recently, and now you can do that. I haven’t told our employees that they can do that yet.”
Once an avid rower, Clasen says he runs to try to stay in shape and, more recently, has become “addicted to golf.” He’s also become a soccer fan, and he watches the top European leagues on television as much as he does American football.
Clasen said the number of times he’s left the National Sports Center, only to return and resume working there, is something of a running joke. In the end, the NSC has been a snug fit.
“I feel deeply about the mission of the National Sports Center and what we provide in youth athletics and for the families in the state of Minnesota,” Clasen said. “Yeah, it is a non-profit and nobody is getting terribly rich here, but I am much richer because of the experiences."