When Troy Goodwin answered a nondescript Craigslist ad to be part of an unspecified promo team, he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. As a grad student looking for side jobs, the details didn’t matter that much to him. He was just looking for some extra cash.
So imagine his surprise several months later, when he was there at the TD Garden when the Boston Celtics ousted the Los Angeles Lakers, winning their first NBA championship in over two decades.
From then on, he was hooked.
“Obviously being there that first year when we won the championship was such an experience,” he told Outsports. “I caught the bug.”
For the last 16 years, Goodwin has worked in a variety of roles for the Celtics, from Game Night Operations Assistant to in-arena host. These days, he’s the Game Night Operations Manager, meaning he’s in charge of everything from selecting the right music to making sure the team’s dancers step onto the famed parquet floor in time.
In other words, his presence on game night is ubiquitous. “When you go to a game and see all of the other stuff that’s not the game, that’s what I’m helping to work smoothly,” he said.
A lifelong athlete (he played basketball for Southern New Hampshire University), Goodwin always dreamed of working in sports. But like many gay sports fanatics, he wasn’t sure if his sexual identity meshed with his passion.
“I think a lot of it was, the coming out thing, there’s nerves about it. It’s sports,” he said. “Naturally, you can’t help but be a little nervous or a little anxious about how is it gonna play out? Are they gonna take to me correctly? It was a lot of internal struggles.”
Most of all, Goodwin feared losing his dream gig.
“I love this organization. I love working here,” he said. “The idea of losing this because of who I am, it’s a natural fear, and it’s something that kind of ate me alive for a while.”
Goodwin didn’t experience a revelatory coming out moment. Over time, he became tired of hiding, and started dating more publicly. That’s when he met his loving husband, Glenn. They’ve been together for nearly 10 years.
“From there on, we were stuck,” joked Goodwin.
In addition to the Celtics, Goodwin has worked for multiple pro teams in the Greater Boston area, including the Boston Blazers (indoor lacrosse) and Brockton Rox (minor league baseball). While he’s never explicitly been told to hide his sexuality, he’s gotten the vibe that he wasn’t supposed to publicize it, either.
“With some of those other organizations, there’s a light hint of, ‘Keep it to yourself,’” he said. “As a gay person, it’s like, ‘OK, so don’t be yourself?’ That’s not right.”
But with the Celtics, the opposite is true. Some of Goodwin’s closest friends work alongside him on game nights, and attended his wedding. The Celtics have held an LGBTQ Pride Night every year since 2019, outside of the Covid season.
At the Garden, Goodwin feels like he’s home.
“It’s just been nice to be able to be myself,” he said. “Even having my husband come down and say hi to me and not having to feel any different than anybody else. In pro sports, it was such a hush hush thing. It’s so nice now it’s just on that movement of being the same.”
Though this Celtics season didn’t pan out as hoped — they lost a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Miami Heat Monday night — Goodwin has been there for plenty of highs.
He’s working in sports, and enjoying life as his true self. It doesn’t get any better than that.
“It’s just been really interesting and kind of incredible. It sounds crazy, but I’ve been with the Celtics for 16 years. I’m 37 now, so it’s basically been my adulthood out of college,” he said. “Being there for all of these monumental moments. I feel blessed that I’m able to look back at all of those historical moments, and know that not only I was there, but I was a big part of it, too.”