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Hanover grad holds public relations career in the NBA

  • Hilary Gorlin

  • Among Hanover High graduate Hilary Gorlin's fringe benefits of being the Portland Trail Blazers' communications manager: Getting to fire off the occasional shot at the Moda Center, the team's home court.

  • Hanover High graduate Hilary Gorlin, second from right, the Portland Trail Blazers' corporate communications manager, poses with Lloyd Neal, left, Dave Twardzik, middle, and Bob Gross, right, and the NBA championship trophy the three former players won in 1977.

  • Among Hanover High graduate Hilary Gorlin's fringe benefits of being the Portland Trail Blazers' communications manager: Playing video games against Blazers star Damian Lillard, right.

  • Among Hanover High graduate Hilary Gorlin's fringe benefits of being the Portland Trail Blazers' communications manager: Procuring and presenting gifts to artists such as Billy Joel, right, who are doing shows at Portland's Noda Center.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 12/2/2019 9:51:58 PM
Modified: 12/2/2019 10:11:30 PM

Hilary Gorlin graduated from Hanover High School in 2010 and began pursuing a career in communications and public relations soon after.

The Upper Valley native helped the Marauders win their first of now 10 consecutive girls ice hockey championships as a senior, then went on to play at the University of Colorado. She moved to Oregon following college, dove headlong into her chosen field and now works as the corporate communications manager for the Portland Trail Blazers and the Rose Quarter sports and entertainment district.

Gorlin said her opportunity is the product of good timing and the necessary skills. She’d worked for a public-relations firm in Portland, done stuff with Nike and had a game-night gig with the Portland Winterhawks major junior hockey team before getting a 30-hours-a-week job with the Blazers, eventually moving up the ladder to her current position.

Gorlin answered questions during a recent phone interview while visiting the Upper Valley for Thanksgiving,

Valley News: What is the Rose Quarter?

Hilary Gorlin: The Rose Quarter is what we call our two venues. We manage both the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Veterans Memorial Coliseum is where the Blazers played for a long time when the franchise started, and then (former owner) Paul Allen built the Moda Center right next door, so we still function both buildings. We have concerts and events in both buildings. The Blazers play exclusively in the Moda Center now, but we call the whole area the Rose Quarter.

VN: What’s the most fun part of your job?

HG: Helping to make custom gifts for the artists that come through our venue and getting to present them with those gifts and thanking them for coming to our venue and to Portland. That’s a really, really cool part of the job.

I try not to be the type of person that gets really excited about meeting celebrities because it’s like kind of lame to be excited, you know, but I am definitely the type of person that gets excited. I grew up a huge Billy Joel and Elton John fan, and the fact that I’ve gotten to have conversations with both of them and shake their hand and share a laugh is just like one of the coolest things. … I never in a million years thought that that would be an opportunity I would get.

On the Blazers side, just being able to walk out onto the court — I would say like pregame — while everyone’s warming up and looking at the 19,000 fans and getting to walk across the court. That feeling, that thrill to me is really, really fun.

VN: What’s the hardest part of the job?

HG: My life is my job. I work so many nights, you can imagine doing both games and concerts and events, and there’s two of us on the communications team and one of us has to be at every single event, so we’re working a lot of nights and a lot of hours. For me, I love it so much that I don’t mind, but also I’m almost four years in and I’m definitely getting a little bit tired.

The one other thing that comes to mind is that if we have a tough situation that we have to deal with, I’m the one that has to come up with where the organization stands and what we’re telling media and what we’re telling our fans and what we’re telling our staff, so it can be kind of difficult in crisis situations. If there’s something that we’re dealing with, I have to make sure that any sort of statement that comes out of our organization needs to be pretty perfect. It can be stressful in that regard.

VN: What is the Trail Blazers franchise doing to celebrate its 50th anniversary?

HG: We’ve been doing decade nights for six different games. … The first game we did was during a preseason game. We celebrated franchise firsts, so we flew in a bunch of players that were on that first Blazers team including the first-ever draft pick (Geoff Petrie, NBA rookie of the year in 1971) and the first coach (Rolland Todd) of the team. … We’re going through and doing different things for each decade, so we just had ’70s night a couple weeks ago and we flew in a bunch of people. The only championship that the Blazers have was in 1977, so we flew in a lot of players from that ’77 team and then everything is kind of themed around that decade. … We have ’80s night, it’s at the end of December, and then we’ll keep kind of moving through the decades from there.

VN: What’s your reaction to the Carmelo Anthony acquisition?

HG: We definitely needed something to happen because we have had a really rough start to the season. I don’t think it was a bad move necessarily, but also Carmelo’s been out of the league for a little bit. … It hasn’t on the court been the best season, especially after coming off of going to the Western Conference finals, but there’s still time to turn it around.

VN: Damian Lillard is the face of the Blazers’ franchise. Have you had any interactions with him?

HG: I know him decently at this point. He is such a nice guy. I feel super lucky that we have a superstar that’s as humble as he is. Part of my job is to manage media and any sort of player appearances that we have, and he’s always so gracious in talking to media and goes so far out of his way to make sure that anyone that’s a part of an event feels really welcome.

And he’s obviously a phenomenal basketball player as well. … In the beginning of the season, he had a 60-point game that we ended up losing, which is just such a bummer because that was a career-high for him and a franchise-high for the Blazers; 60 points, and we couldn’t get him the win on that night. And what’s so nice is he doesn’t get mad in those situations; (he’s) just like, ‘All right, on to the next.’ He never dwells on anything, and yeah, he’s a good guy. We’re lucky.

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