Kyle Blakely ’07 graduated with a degree in textile and apparel management, springing him into a career with Under Armour in Maryland. Since graduating, he has participated in many projects, engineering fabrics for athletes and teams, including the University of Maryland, our opponent on Saturday for our last game of the season. As an alumnus doing interesting work in the area, we spoke to him about his job, NC State’s prospects for a bowl bid, a season-ending win, the opponent, and of course, how Blakely’s experiences at State have affected his life today.
What do you do for a living? I am a Materials Development Manager at Under Armour… the athletic sportswear brand. I engineer, source and develop textiles for UA apparel. I work on everything from underwear, baselayer and jackets you find in the store to the uniforms that all of our colleges wear. In fact, I’ve engineered a lot of the fabrics worn by Under Amour schools (particularly basketball and football) including Maryland’s fabrics.
What brought you to the area? I moved to Maryland so I could work for Under Armour. It was a rare opportunity that I had to take – the UA headquarters are located at Tide Point in downtown Baltimore. It’s an incredible company –I’m very fortunate to be here and glad NCSU helped prepare me to be successful.
Do you ever go to Maryland games? What’s the campus like? What are the fans like? I go to Maryland games all the time (it’s only a short drive)–basketball, football and baseball. I typically just attend the games when they are playing NCSU. The campus is similar to NCSU in that it is fairly sprawled… It seems to be pretty nice although in recent years there has been a lot of renovation going on, especially at the football complex. …The fans seem to be engaged but the tailgating scene is nothing like the Fairgrounds, and people usually don’t start showing up until two hours before the game.
Is it tough to be an NC State graduate in that area? It’s actually not too bad being an NCSU graduate here because of the network of NCSU alum. We have 15 NCSU graduates that work at Under Armour alone and the Baltimore alums always get together for game watches, etc. In many instances at work, I feel like we really outnumber the Maryland people, although there are quite a few alums from MD here as well – including our CEO. Typically, since neither university is particularly excelling at football, we kind of have a unique bond – it’s not very contentious – we understand each other I would say.
This is the last game of the season – do you think we’ll get a bowl bid? Well, if I was to analyze the trends I would be very nervous this week… We blank UNC and then lose to a lack-luster Boston College team… we torch #7 Clemson – the pattern speaks for itself. But I think being at home will help and O’Brien always seems to get just enough done when people start whispering about this job, so I am optimistic about this week. I will say, selfishly, I’m hoping we do get a bowl bid in Washington, DC – the drive is a little easier! Last year’s trek down to Florida from Maryland was pretty brutal (but worth it!).
Who do you think will win – State or Maryland? Score? I’ll predict a win, but it will be ugly. 24 to 17, NCSU squeaks it out.
Do you ever interact with NC State through Under Armour? I do, quite a bit actually. The NCSU College of Textiles is a world-class textile program with world-class resources, and we try to utilize those resources as much as we can. The faculty and staff are very open and helpful – I’m very proud to be interacting professionally with the college I graduated from.
Can you tell me about a favorite football memory? I have so many, but I would have to say beyond the countless tailgates, it has to be Philip Rivers’ last game in Carter-Finley–even though we lost (to who else, but Maryland) the atmosphere and the way the fans reacted and appreciated him for everything he did–I couldn’t have been prouder in that moment to be a part of the Wolfpack.