Director of Events
U.S. Soccer Federation
Hailey Parungao, U.S. Soccer Talent Identification Associate
Can you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?
I’m originally from St. Louis and am one of three girls in a sports-centric family. Growing up, my sisters and I played everything - soccer, field hockey, volleyball, basketball, softball … we swam and dove. This love of sports has shaped who and what I am today. Even now in my spare time, I enjoy training for and competing in marathons and triathlons! Throughout college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. Every new graduate imagines starting in a dream job. For me, I ended up looking for any experience I could get – and fell into an incredible career. I started as an assistant in the Events Department at U.S. Soccer and have now worked my way to department head. Along the way, I’ve added in a myriad of unique, extraordinary experiences including multiple men’s and Women’s World Cups, World Cup bids, the Copa America Centenario in 2016 and so many others.
How would you describe your day-to-day job?
It’s cliché to say, but no two days are the same for me. A standard Director of Events role includes overseeing operations and planning related to our Men’s and Women’s National Team games – but in a given day, I also find myself helping manage our organization’s travel services, supporting SheBelieves activities, coordinating with professional leagues and Concacaf, and more. I’m also currently working on the next phase of planning for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the Candidate Host City Bidding process.
My job requires a ton of travel, so when I’m in Chicago, I try to make the most of my time in the office. I’m typically up really early to work out (4:30am!) and then try to beat other staff to the office, so I have a few minutes alone to get organized, plan out my day and catch up on anything outstanding. Days are filled with meetings, calls with colleagues inside and outside of U.S. Soccer, venues, cities, etc. so scheduling, including time to sit down and work on presentations or materials is super important.
What do you love about your current job?
So many things. First and foremost: the people. Because we spend so much time on the road and in the office, having co-workers who you actually like as people and enjoy spending time with is critical. My co-workers constantly push me to be better and do better, and I love that.
Second would be the diversity and variety of what I do and have been able to be a part of through my work at U.S. Soccer. I have traveled the world and worked in some incredible countries. I also know that I’ve gotten to work on some incredible projects that have helped grow and shape the sport of soccer in our country. I don’t think I always realized that early on and I definitely don’t always remember it in the middle of the craziness, but being able to see things with that light now really makes me appreciative and reminds me why we do what we do.
When did you realize this was the right fit for you?
I love my job, but for me, it’s not about it being the “right fit.” In fact, it’s about the exact opposite. It’s about taking on roles and responsibilities that force you to grow and change. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone – every day. It’s about being challenged, instead of comfortable or complacent. When I started at U.S. Soccer, I had very little experience or exposure to the business of sports. Now I know sports better, and I also know myself better. Along the way, I’ve recognized my strengths, and more glaringly, have had the opportunity to confront my weaknesses and become better. My job has evolved so much over the years, and so have I – and for that, I’m grateful for every lesson I’ve learned in the moments I didn’t “fit.”
What advice would you give to women seeking a position in your field?
Raise your hand and step up. The majority of the experience and opportunities I have had in my career came by taking on more than what was technically “my job” or part of my job description. Volunteer for things inside and outside of your comfort zone, both within your company and beyond it. The exposure to different people, to different ways of thinking and working is so valuable. You really have no idea who you might meet and where the experiences will lead you to next.