News Report: Cleveland Browns coach nominated for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award..

Cleveland Browns 2023 NFL Salute to Service Award Nominee Joy Tapajcik was surprised by her family at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on October 24, 2023.

As Joy Tapajcik walked downstairs of the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, a video started playing of her husband and children letting her know how proud of her they were. They were also the first to share with Tapajcik that she was nominated for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award.

She was then met with a round of applause from a number of colleagues and two special guests in her husband and daughter appeared in person to congratulate her. She was shocked.

“Rarely am I surprised like that, especially by my husband,” Tapajcik said with a laugh. “He did a really good job keeping it close to the chest, as well as my three-year-old. It was super cute to see her very excited and happy and then him, too. I was surprised, totally taken aback.”

The Cleveland Browns have nominated Tapajcik for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, which recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with demonstrable commitment to honoring and supporting military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.

“We are tremendously grateful to Joy for her service to our country and value the talent and leadership she brings to our organization,” Cleveland Browns Vice President of Community Relations Jenner Tekancic said. “We look forward to furthering our military appreciation programs and initiatives with her added insight. We are proud to nominate her for the 2023 Salute to Service Award.”

The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and the USAA’s year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military and veteran community. The NFL and its 32 teams work to honor, empower and connect service members, veterans and their families as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service initiative. Their efforts culminate with the NFL Salute to Service games and other events.

“It’s really cool, I think, that the NFL like recognizes service members or veterans or just people in general that commit to the military,” Tapajcik said.

Tapajcik is the Player Personnel and Football Operations Process Manager for the Cleveland Browns. She is in her third season with the organization. She graduated from the Naval Academy with a political science and government bachelor’s degree. Before joining the Browns, she spent almost a decade in Naval Intelligence.

While her work in the Navy was vastly different, there are elements that have translated to her role with the Browns.

“In the Navy as an officer, you’re kind of expected to be a go-to, action person, get things done,” Tapajcik said. “And that’s what I love about working in sports is you got to figure out how to get things done, and it’s a complex dynamic, ever evolving kind of situation. And that was very much the case in the in the Navy – dynamic, ever evolving, ever changing, always on your toes. I love that.”

Then, in terms of the intelligence community, Tapajcik said that she had to make sense of copious amounts of information that wasn’t always clear and try to project off that information. That has translated into her work in the scouting world.

Her love of sports went back to her childhood, growing up in Texas as a football fan. High school football on Friday nights played an important part of her childhood. She was also a Cowboys fan. Some of her earliest – and fondest – family memories involve football.

Then, when she attended the Naval Academy, she became a manager and worked as a videographer for the football program.

“That’s the first time (I saw a shift) from a fan perspective to support staff perspective,” she said. “And learned about the grind behind the scenes and everything that encompasses supporting football program and what a program was. I loved being a part of the Brotherhood. So that was my first part of exposure and experience to – actually my only – before the Browns.”

Tapajcik spent 11 years serving in the Navy. As part of her last tour in the Navy, she was selected to be a flag aide for two different admirals. In her time as a flag aide, Tapajcik said she learned about being a selfless servant leader and prioritizing other’s needs over her own. She also witnessed executive skills of being able to not only see the big picture, but zoom in and dive into important small details, and has tried to emulate those skills herself.

“There’s a handful of tours that I think that everyone has in their time and their career where they look back at it and it’s like man, something definitely changed or impacted me, Tapajcik said. “Being a flag aide was one of them.

During her last duty stationed in the Navy in Washington, D.C., she reconnected with the Navy football program and people that she had worked with in the past while at the Naval Academy. She volunteered with the program and the recruiting staff, beginning with administrative work, and then transitioning to actively recruit players. During this time, she began to think about her options after she transitioned out of the Navy.

Then, as she was researching grad school opportunities, she was connected with some educators at the George Mason program, who then connected her with Sam Rapoport, the Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the NFL, and Venessa Hutchinson, the Football Pipeline Development Director at the NFL to learn about career opportunities in the NFL.

Through their platform called the Women’s Careers in Football Forum at the time – now known as the NFL’s Women’s Forum – Tapajcik had the opportunity to attend the forum and was connected with the Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry, as well as Managing and Principal Partner Dee Haslam and assistant wide receivers coach Callie Brownson. From there, her opportunity with the Browns arose.

Tapajcik has brought that same passion for leadership development to the Browns, as she has taken the lead in organizing management training sessions with the Browns Football Ops department heads and inviting former military members from the Navy, Marine Corps and Army.

She is also currently working on two different internship initiatives for 2024, collaborating with Solider to Sidelines and DOD Skillsbridge. Soldiers to Sidelines is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing coaching certification to service members and veterans to integrate them into the community as coaches.

“The really cool thing that stands out behind that is organizations like the Soldiers to Sideline that afford the opportunity for people to be like, ‘Where do I start? What’s the path?’ Here it is,” Tapajcik said.

DOD Skillsbridge is an opportunity for service members to gain valuable civilian work experiences through specific industry training during the last 180 days of service. Tapajcik said the goal is to partner with these two organizations and create a handful of seasonal internships.

“I’m passionate about this from my personal experience and transitioning out of the military,” Tapajcik said. “It’s just very challenging, and it can be very tricky thing to navigate. So, to create a dedicated platform to navigate someone through it and usher them through it, I love those organizations that do that. I love the fact that this one exists for specific to coaching.

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