COOPERSTOWN — When Matt Hazzard pictured his dream job growing up, he said, he didn’t know it would include a trolley.
Hazzard, the former executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and a 2000 Cooperstown Central School graduate, majored in sports management and business at SUNY Cortland. He was a fellow for the United States Golf Association and director of marketing for the Major League Baseball Players Association before moving home in 2014 to raise his family with his wife, Stephanie.
“Six years ago, I was working with Mike Trout at my old job, and now I drive a trolley,” he said July 11.
The Hazzards started a side business, Leatherstocking Trolley Company, two years ago after the village of Cooperstown got out of the private rental business and sold two trolleys as surplus. The Hazzards won a blind bid for the trolleys and started renting them out for weddings and other events late in 2017.
“I have always had an entrepreneur’s mind, and I throw out ideas all the time to my wife,” Hazzard said. “She has always had an interest in transportation logistics. So when I started hearing about this opportunity, I said, ‘I wonder what the interest is?’ It turns out there was definitely a need and a demand.”
This year, the Hazzards also won a five-year contract to operate the trolleys around the village of Cooperstown, which are owned in part by the village and in part by Otsego County. The private rentals have increased this season as well, with historic tours, weddings, brewery trail runs, opera shuttles and hotel rentals all contributing to a successful season, Hazzard said.
“I have known for a long time that I get my energy from working with people,” he said. “Now I get to work with people every day sharing my passion for Cooperstown with folks.”
Working with tourists rather than business owners has given him a different perspective on his hometown, he said.
“People come here and they are so excited to be in Cooperstown,” he said.
Hazzard left the chamber in the spring, but he had an exciting season of coaching before the tourism business picked up. As Cooperstown’s junior varsity baseball coach and assistant varsity baseball coach, he has helped coach two teams to the Class C final four in three years. This year Cooperstown made it to the title game, losing 7-3 to Ticonderoga in Binghamton in last month’s championship game.
“People forget about the baseball team sometimes, but they are one of only two programs to make the state final four in two out of three years,” he said.
The other team to accomplish that at CCS was the girls basketball team in 2015 and 2016. Although he did not coach basketball this year, Hazzard was an assistant for those girls teams, too.
“I was fortunate to be an assistant for both of those groups, and if you look at the kids involved, you can tell why they had success,” he said. “They were two great groups of kids.”
Sports has always been a family passion. Hazzard’s parents, Edward and Patricia, were inducted into the CCS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 as boosters. Stephanie, a Walton native, is the director of education and visitor services at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Although she once drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in one of her more interesting jobs, she is not driving the family’s trolleys. But Matt has gotten his commercial driver license and is in rotation as one of the drivers.
“It is a different life, but it is a happy life,” he said.