By Mandy Holmes
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
She may not be able to ice skate, but in her role as the current chief of staff for the Arizona Coyotes, Marina Carpenter was destined to become a major player in the local sporting scene.
A native of Chandler, the volleyball star was tempted by many out-of-state schools when considering where continue her academic and athletic career after high school, but her heart was set on remaining close to home. Carpenter ultimately accepted an offer to play Division I volleyball for Arizona State University, fueling her love of Phoenix and the athletic community.
After graduating from the W.P. Carey School of Business as a top student-athlete, Carpenter continued her education at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. During law school, she was a member of the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal and landed an internship with the Arizona Diamondbacks legal department, an early indication of the possibility of bridging her legal training with the competitive world of sports.
“My experience with the Arizona Diamondbacks was a perfect introduction to the basic needs of a professional team,” she says.
After learning the ropes at a local law firm and gaining experience in a multitude of legal affairs, she found an opportunity to return to sports. Though this time, she would be off the field and on the ice.
In 2016 Carpenter became the associate general counsel of the Arizona Coyotes, and worked her way up to her current role as the team’s general counsel and chief of staff. In this role, she is responsible for the team’s litigation matters, contracts, business operations, partner relationships and long-term strategic planning.
“There are a lot of people that would love to have my job, so I don’t take it for granted. I have to constantly prepare for whatever is coming up next, it’s such a rewarding challenge and feeds my competitive nature,” Carpenter says.
In addition to her love for the Valley, Carpenter’s strong value of teamwork is one of the things that aligns her most with the Arizona Coyotes’ culture and development.
“The team operates without ego and are heavily invested in the community,” she says.
Families of deployed military members and children participating in the Boys and Girls Club have opportunities to skate at Gila Arena Stadium, and teachers use STEM and reading materials offered by the team in their classrooms.
Not only did ASU provide the professional training for Carpenter to succeed, the Sun Devil weight room also served as an integral part of her personal life as it’s where she met her now-husband, Rudy Carpenter, who was the quarterback for the Sun Devils at the time. It was not a case of love at first sight since their intense athletic commitments kept them busy year-round, however, six years down the road Marina convinced Rudy to return to Phoenix to build a life together.
The couple have a daughter that is just about the enter her “terrible twos” and are expecting a baby boy to join the team in February 2020. While becoming a mother has put another massive ball in her hands to juggle, Carpenter prioritizes quality family time and trying to find the elusive work-life balance.
“Before I was a mom, I could work anytime, and I dictated every aspect of my schedule,” she says. “My weekends have become a little less productive in regards to work, but I find that being a mom has actually made me a better employee.”
Through her experiences, she has learned to manage people’s expectations better, set realistic timelines, and accept the fact that she won’t be able to get everything done as fast as she’d like to.
“I instinctively want to do everything for everyone all the time. In theory, I could just work longer and harder, but in practicality I learned that sleep is crucial and there is such a thing as too much coffee,” she says.
The family recently completed the construction of their home in Arcadia to accommodate their growing family and the argument they have most often is whether to put football or hockey on the living room television.
“Needless to say, one of us ends up forced into another room,” she says.