With mass shootings and threats frequent occurrences, Andrea Evans has to take her job seriously.
As the security manager for AEG Facilities’ Gila River Arena, Evans is responsible for the building and everyone in it.
“Unfortunately, we’re living in a world where bad things happen,” she said. “We have to work with our Glendale Police Department, Fire Department and FBI to make sure I’m up to date on everything that can possibly happen so I can protect the venue.”
For her efforts, Evans was given the 2019 Professional of the Year Award at the recent National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. It was hosted by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi.
“The reason for the Professional of the Year Award is to allow professional leagues, NCAA member institutions, marathon and interscholastic athletics organizations to honor outstanding individuals in the field of sports safety and security for their contributions and leadership,” NCS4 Director Dr. Lou Marciani said.
“These contributions involve enhancing safety and security at their venue beyond what is normally required and setting an example for others to follow.”
Evans was selected by the National Hockey League along with a league official at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition. Marciani noted each league or organization selects the criteria and makes the determination as to which professional will be recognized.
Evans has been with Gila River Arena since the venue opened in 2003 and has worked her way up to her current role of security manager, overseeing all security policy, personnel and procedures for the venue.
“I was shocked, to be honest,” Evans said about her award. “I know the NHL told me they were going to put me up for it, but I didn’t put two and two together until they called.”
Prior to her role at Gila River Arena, Evans worked for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer. She left the position to be a stay-at-home mom to her three boys.
When the arena staff announced its opening, she applied for a part-time job in security “to get out of the house.”
“As the kids got older, that allowed me to move up,” she said. “I enjoy it, but I never thought about working in a venue before. It was a fluke thing for me to get into. I wanted something part time, and security was a natural for me because of the sheriff’s department.
“It’s an unbelievable place to work and I enjoy it thoroughly. It’s something different every single day.”
Evans doesn’t get starstruck by the stars and athletes who pass through Gila River Arena. To her, they’re just everyday people.
Evans was born and raised in Arizona. After graduating from Tolleson High School, she attended Long Medical Institute for sports medicine. She became certified but realized that wasn’t her calling. The Goodyear resident applied to be an MCSO detention officer.
She sees protecting the community as her calling.
“I don’t look at it as stressful,” she said. “Even at the sheriff’s department, they ranked me so well on staying calm in situations. I don’t stress out. If we have a fight or a medical situation, I usually stay calm. If you get excited, the staff gets excited. I have to stay level with everyone.”
Among her daily duties are driving around the venue, making sure nothing has changed or if vehicles were left abandoned. Her assistant patrols Gila River Arena as well.
“We’re constantly walking around it, inside and out, checking security cameras and looking through everything,” Evans said. “Depending on who’s coming in — whether it’s a nonevent day or our dark days — we prepare. If it’s a nonevent day, people think it’s slow. But we’re getting ready for the hockey season now, training the staff, redoing policies and procedures, and going through with the local law enforcement what we need to do to make our building safer.”
This season, the NHL is restricting bags to 12 inches by 12 inches, but they do not need to be clear. Backpacks are no longer permitted.
“We just want everybody to go home safely — the staff and guests,” she said. “That’s the goal every time we open the doors. We want everybody to enjoy the event and go home the same way they came in. I do say a prayer every morning before I leave for work, because that’s what I need to go on with my day. That’s the only thing I have in my back pocket.”