SPM

Kyle Caron and Maddy Hooper team up as interns at The First Tee in Connecticut

Kyle Caron at his internship this summer during golf lessons.Written by: Kyle Caron

My name is Kyle Caron and I am a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, having received my Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management. This past summer, I interned with The First Tee of Connecticut in Cromwell, Conn., this region’s chapter of the international First Tee organization. The First Tee is an organization that focuses on teaching the game of golf and instilling important life skills in young players. During my time there, I was able to gain experience in many aspects of running a non-profit organization such as marketing, financial development and community outreach.

For the first half of my internship, I worked in several community outreach efforts. This included going to different golf courses to teach clinics to children who may have not had access to the game otherwise as well as attending networking and marketing fairs to organize demo stations for kids to play in while I explained to their parents what The First Tee is all about. I also spent time volunteering at various tournaments throughout the state, as a representative of the organization, to help foster relationships with local golf clubs to attempt to spread the word about our programs and attract new students. I spent the second half of my internship working as a counselor for our Summer Camp program where I supervised campers and taught them ways and techniques to improve their game.

My time spent with The First Tee of Connecticut allowed me to learn more about what it takes to run a golf and youth development organization, specifically a non-profit one. As a non-profit organization targeted at kids who want to learn the game, I saw how creating relationships with other organizations in the community could be just as beneficial to an organization’s reputation as a large marketing campaign. I also saw the impact that sports can have on the development of a child’s life by teaching them ethics and values to live by such as respect, perseverance and integrity. Many of the kids who came up through The First Tee program are now successful college students with plenty of accolades and scholarships that reflect the character that our programs assisted in building. Because of the effects I saw due to children’s involvement with The First Tee, I would like to further pursue a career in sport-based youth development and try to make that same difference in the lives of future generations. Working with The First Tee of Connecticut was a valuable and enriching experience, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Written by: Maddy Hooper

My name is Maddy Hooper and I am from West Hartford, Conn. I did my summer internship at The First Tee of Connecticut, which is located in Cromwell on the grounds of TPC River Highlands. I first saw the position of Community Outreach Intern for this summer in one of the Sport Management weekly newsletters. I noticed it one day over Christmas break and immediately emailed Mark, my boss from this summer, and sent in my application. I interviewed for the position at the end of March and found out a week later that I gotten the position.

A photo that Maddy Hooper included in her internship experience of students during summer golf lessons.I did a lot of different things this summer. In my first few weeks before the kids came for the summer, we worked with children after school and completed tasks around the office. A few of the big projects that I completed during this time were reorganizing all of the closets and storage spaces in our building. The week before school got out was the week of the Travelers Championship. This was truly the busiest week of my life. We ran a ton of events that week and worked all over the course during the pro-am and tournament. This week was really cool for me because I met tons of important people in the golf world including the president of the PGA Paul Levy, and many professional golfers, such as Rory Mclroy and Paul Casey. Once school got out, I really began the work that I did this summer. For the remainder of the summer, I spent most of my time at different summer camps all over the state giving golf lessons. I went to places like Camp Courant, Channel 3 Kids Camp and Boys and Girls Club of New Haven.

My main takeaway from this summer is that it’s important to be helpful in every way possible. I became really close with everyone that I worked with and the full-time employees called me “the best intern ever.” I think they called me this because I was willing to do anything they asked me to do and did everything to the best of my ability, even if some days this was just sorting golf balls and moving cases of water. You can really leave your mark in a place by doing more then what is asked of you and making positive and friendly impressions. I hope to use the skills that I learned this summer and bring them with me as I pursue a career in non-profit youth development. The First Tee or any organization similar is where I would love to end up after graduation.

Race, Sport, and Activism Panel

Written by: Dr. Joseph Cooper

Aaron Garland, Foley Fatukasi, Kelli Thomas, Tyrae Simms, Deshon Foxx, Angelo Pruitt and Dr. Joseph Cooper
Pictured from left to right: Aaron Garland, Foley Fatukasi, Kelli Thomas, Tyrae Simms, Deshon Foxx, Angelo Pruitt and Dr. Joseph Cooper; Photo credit: @UConnSPM Instagram

On September 1, 2016, before the NFL regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers, Colin Kaepernick captured the nation’s attention by kneeling during the playing the of the national anthem as an act of protest against police brutality and social injustices in the United States (U.S.). Although, Kaepernick had chosen not to stand during the NFL pre-season games of the 2016-2017 season, the visibility of the nationally televised Thursday night game generated a broader national conversation on activism and sport. Since Kaepernick’s initial kneel, there ongoing debates and discussions about protests, patriotism, police brutality, politics, and power relations in the U.S. society. These conversations have occurred everywhere from mainstream news shows, internet blogs, coffee shops, late night comedy shows, sports shows, schools, barbershops and beauty salons, political speeches, town halls, and community spaces.

On October 18, 2017, the UConn campus community extended this dialogue by engaging in a formal conversation on the topic of “Race, Sport, and Activism.” This event was co-sponsored by the Collective Uplift student organization, UConn Athletics Department, and UConn Sport Management Program. The aim of the event was to facilitate a healthy discussion on how race, sport, and activism have been historically and contemporarily intertwined and contributed to positive social progress. Dr. Joseph Cooper, Assistant Professor in Sport Management, was the lead organizer and moderator for the event. According to Cooper, the event provided

“A much needed concerted space for the campus to focus on the ways in which sport and athletes use their respective platforms to communicate messages about broader social issues and ignite positive change in society.”

The panel began with an evocative video of a spoken word artist named Tariq Touré who delivered a powerful poem titled “For the Love the Game.” Members who presented and attended the Race, Sport and Activism Panel Discussion on 10/18/17The poem provided illustrative descriptions of contested sporting spaces that reinforce damaging power relationships between White male economic elites (i.e., NFL owners) and Black male laborers (i.e., a majority of NFL players) , reflect persisting racial inequalities, and fosters an apolitical culture that suppresses Blacks’ engagement in political and social justice engagement. Following the video, Cooper highlighted the historical legacy of activism efforts through sport for race-related social justice causes. Within this description, different types of activism were presented including symbolic, scholarly/educational, grassroots, sport-based, economic, political, legal, media, and music and art. Each of the aforementioned types of activism have been utilized by Black athletes and institutions redress injustices in society. In addition, the historical overview connected sport activism dating back to the late 1800s to the most recent acts of activism in the 21st century.

Following the historical overview, three videos of Colin Kaepernick’s initial post-game explanation of why he chose to take a knee, President Trump’s recent comments about how he feels NFL owners should respond to players who choose not to stand for the anthem, and President Obama’s response to a military service member who inquired about his feelings about the NFL anthem protests were presented. After the videos, the six panelists were introduced. The six panelists included

  • Deshon Foxx – current graduate student in the UConn Sport Management program, UConn alumnus (’14 in Sociology), former UConn football player (2010-2014)), and former NFL player (2014-2017)
  • Angelo Pruitt – current Financial Advisor for Merrill Edge, UConn alumnus (’15 in Economics), and former UConn football player (2010-2015)
  • Tyrae Sims – current undergraduate student in the UConn Sport Management program and former UConn football player (2013-2016)
  • Kelli Thomas – current undergraduate student in Human Development and Family Studies and current track and field athlete (2013-present)
  • Folorunso Fatukasi – UConn alumnus (’17 in Sociology) and current UConn football player (2013-present)
  • Aaron Garland – current undergraduate student in Political Science and current UConn football player (2015-2017)

The panelists were asked questions regarding their perspectives on the videos of Kaepernick, President Trump, and President Obama as well as their thoughts on athletes engaging in activism and specific recommendations that felt would contribute to positive change in society.

Pruitt emphasized how his heightened social consciousness during the latter stages of and following his athletic career influenced his perceptions of activism through sport. He said

“Your sport is what you play. It is not who you are.”

In his opinion, although he did not engage in activism during his playing career, if he could go back knowing what he knows now he would encourage more activism among current athletes. Foxx reflected on his NFL career when he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks immediately following Kaepernick’s activism. He described how he and his teammates agreed locking arms as a team would send a powerful message about unity while expressing support for Kaepernick. He also highlighted the real fear that comes with a lack of job security as a professional athlete when considering to engage in activism. However, he explained how his increased social consciousness throughout his playing career has motivated him to encourage athletes using their platform to foster positive change in society.

Sims expressed the need for athletes challenge power systems that suppress their authentic identities. He explained how athletes are not disconnected from social injustices occurring in the broader society and being educated on these issues is an important first step. Specifically, he referenced how in his hometown community, police brutality and other offenses were not uncommon and thus athletes like himself who are closely connected to these issues feel more compelled to speak out and do anything they can to address these issues. Thomas provided an important lens as a Black woman athlete and described how often times she feels she does not have the same influence as her same race male counterparts in more high profile sports (football and basketball). She explained the importance of athletes using a range of platforms to challenge social injustice outside of sport.

Fatukasi offered an insightful perspective on being a current college athlete and the legitimate fears associated with engaging in activism. Similar to Foxx, Fatukasi has NFL aspirations and said engaging in activism as a current player could hinder his chances of achieving his professional goals. He also emphasized the importance of athletes’ developing themselves holistically and accessing support systems to assist them with balancing difficult decisions about how to promote social change while minimizing the adverse impact on their sport aspirations. Garland expressed the power of collective efforts when seeking to address social injustices. He described how pursuing these efforts alone can be challenging and gaining the support and involvement of an entire team or a group of people is a way to achieve more impactful change. The panel concluded with Q&A from the audience.

The event was well-attended with over 60 attendees and media coverage from CTN and university based media outlets. Cooper said he hopes this is event serves as

“One more step forward within a larger legacy of social justice efforts to create more reflection, education, empowerment, and action that leads to positive changes in our society.”

For those who attended this event and heard from the panelists, it is clear this message resonated loud and clear.

Kelly Andujar Interns at Stonehill Sports Camps

Written by: Kelly Andujar

Spending my summer working for the 2017 Stonehill Sports Camps has been one of the most important learning experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to work with a group of staff that I now consider family. My time working for the sports camps consisted of long hours and sleepless nights. My goal for the internship was to learn about the administrative side of the sports industry and in doing so, I gained valuable experience in marketing, customer service, event organization and coach communication.

I learned quickly that people often notice when tasks are done with half-effort. I worked for the camps with the mentality that I would give it my best and soak up as much knowledge as possible. Without the support of my fellow interns and work-study students, I would not be where I am today. We relied on each other during difficult times and trusted each other’s judgment. No one can be successful alone, and I’ve learned more from my peers than I could have ever imagined. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and thought critically about my role in the sports camps. I recognized my strengths and weaknesses and held myself to the highest standards of professionalism.   

Although I constantly received praise during my internship, I always wanted to find ways in which I could improve. I became heavily invested in the sports camps and felt personally responsible for its successes and failures. There were instances in which I felt like I needed to do everything to make sure the day ran smoothly. This wasn’t due to a lack of trust between my fellow colleagues but rather my “do it all” mindset. I could have reached out to my coworkers for a lending hand and to share some of the responsibilities. I am constantly learning and growing and will use this experience as a tool to improve.

The internship was also very time-consuming and I rarely had time off. Courtney Osier, my supervisor and sports camps coordinator, noticed how much I was working and knew when I need time to myself. I learned that taking time off is important for peace of mind and personal development. As I prepare for life after college, this experience has shaped my understanding of the work force. The sports industry is growing competitively every day and I want to stick out as a “must-have” candidate. I want to show future employers my diverse skill sets and abilities. This experience was more of a “resume-builder,” but will allow me to jump start and be prepared for a future career in athletics. Lastly, I would like to thank Courtney Osier for believing in me and allowing me the opportunity to grow as a young man. I am forever grateful.

EDLR Professors, Jennifer McGarry and Laura Burton, Return as Mentors for Empower Women through Sport Initiative

The Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP)’s Empower Women Through Sports Initiative is an international initiative co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and espnW that partners emerging female leaders from 17 countries with leading executives and experts in the U.S. sports industry.  We are excited to announce that Neag School faculty members Jennie McGarry and Laura Burton will once again be serving int he coming weeks, as hosts.

Agnes Baluka Masajja
Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of State in cooperation with the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, & Society. Photographer: Jaron Johns

Now in its sixth year, Empower Women Through Sports recognizes female achievement in sport leadership, and aims to empower these emerging leaders to serve their local communities through increasing access to, and opportunities for, women and girls to participate in sports — and, ultimately, ignite change as an ambassador for female athletes around the world.

“What sports has done for me I feel it can do for girls throughout Uganda. ... Sports becomes a platform for a bigger conversation.”

— Agnes Baluka Masajja, Global Sport Mentoring Program Emerging Leader

McGarry and Burton, both professors in the Neag School’s Department of Educational Leadership, were invited back to GSMP to serve as 2017 program mentors for emerging leader Agnes Baluka Masajja, sports tutor at Busitema University and head of Education Commission with the Association of Uganda University Sports. Baluka Masajja is one of 17 women tapped as 2017 GSMP emerging leaders, all of whom have three or more years of professional or volunteer experience with a sport-based development organization. Each selected emerging leader uses this opportunity to explore a key challenge facing girls and women or people with disabilities in her home country.

‘This is my destiny’

Baluka Masajja has always been a natural when it came to sports. She excelled in all her athletic endeavors, including netball, soccer and track and field. However, despite her achievement in sport, her father pressured her to abandon athletics and focus entirely on her academics.

In her featured GSMP emerging leader profile, she explains how she managed to continue her participation in athletics despite her father’s wishes, “I would have to hide when I ran so he wouldn’t find out,” she says. “I would avoid any national competitions or races where there’d be media coverage because I didn’t want to get in trouble. By the time I got to university, I told my dad, ‘This is my career. This is my destiny.’ So he couldn’t refuse me anymore.”

Courtesy of U.S. Dept. of State in cooperation with the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, & Society. Photographer: Jaron Johns

Patriarchal structures in Ugandan society treat men and women very differently in sports. Athletics are seen as part of the natural domain of men. Females in sport often face societal pressure to focus on domestic duties as well as a threat of sexual harassment from male coaches.

Baluka Masajja’s story, however, is different. She broke through barriers and currently serves as a role model for other Ugandan female athletes to do the same. As a sports tutor at Busitema University, she holds positions as a coordinator and supervisor for the university’s 16 athletics programs, only five of which are available for women. The limited number of programs is something she is striving to change. In addition, she serves as head of the Education Commission with the Association of Uganda University Sports, through which she organizes national and international tournaments; coaches workshops for sports trainers and tutors; and hosts seminars and conferences across Uganda.

Baluka Masajja also was a coach for the country’s athletics delegation for the 2015 World University Games in South Korea, and will serve in the same capacity for the 2017 competition in Taipei.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website, girls who participate in sports are more likely to have higher rates of school retention and participate in society more. “When women and girls can walk on the playing field, they are more likely to step into the classroom, the boardroom, and step out as leaders in society,” the website states.

For Baluka Masajja, this sentiment rings true. “What sports has done for me, I feel it can do for girls throughout Uganda,” she says. “Sports becomes a platform for a bigger conversation.”

“I hope to develop skills related to management and business that will help me contribute to economic growth. I also hope to learn about U.S. sports and nonprofit environments so I may implement similar ideas at home,” explains Baluka Masajja in regards to her goals as a GSMP emerging leader,

After attending next week’s annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit in California, an event that unites female athletes, leaders in sports, and other industry leaders, Baluka Masajja will arrive at UConn to spend three weeks immersed in various learning and networking experiences with McGarry and Burton as her host mentors, who are both experts in gender issues in sport, specifically with marginalized ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

The Neag School will welcome Baluka Masajja at the Department of Educational Leadership General Meeting from 9:45 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 6, in Gentry Room 142 on the UConn Storrs campus, and will share more information on this and other GSMP-related activities in the coming weeks.

Learn more through this featured GSMP video or visit the U.S. Department of State’s GSMP website. Or, check out GSMP on Facebook. Read more about Agnes Baluka Masajja here.

Posted in SPM

Football and Concussions: Scrambling for Solutions to Safety Concerns

Sport Management graduate alum and former University of Connecticut quarterback Casey Cochran speaks out about his personal experience with concussions, explaining that his injuries were what ultimately led to his decision to retire, at age 20, from football.

“On the outside, you would have no idea there was anything going on. I look like a normal 22-year-old college grad,” the former quarterback wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune last year. “But like a duck peacefully cruising along in a stream, I appear calm even though there are two feet paddling at full speed just under the surface” (CT Post).

Read more in the CTPost article here.

Posted in SPM

Maggie McEvilly Interns in the WHDH TV Sports Department in Boston

Written by: Maggie McEvilly

My name is Maggie McMaggie McEvilly on the field at Gillette Stadium during the New England Patriots pre-season opener. Evilly and I am senior at the University of Connecticut studying Sport Management and Journalism. I hope to pursue a career in the sports broadcasting industry upon graduation and spent this past summer interning with the sports department at WHDH TV Channel 7 in Boston. During the few months that I spent with the station, I learned about the inner-workings of the broadcast industry and how to one day become a successful sports reporter.

Both of the sports producers that I worked with every day were very helpful in teaching me how to write television packages for sports in a conversational and casual tone, something that I struggled with initially due to my prior experience with written journalism. My favorite aspect of interning with WHDH Sports this summer was getting the opportunity to go out into the field and experience what it’s like as a reporter on a normal day, from start to finish. Whether it was at a Red Sox game or Patriots training camp, I was able to be fully immersed in the action, whether it was during pre and post game interviews and press conferences in the locker rooms and clubhouses, on the field during games and practices or in media workrooms at the end of each day to watch the writing and editing processes.

7 News Station in Boston, Mass.

Although I worked primarily with Chelsi McDonald during my time at my internship, one of the three sports reporters at the station, all of the anchors were extremely helpful and accommodating with all that I did this summer.  They thoroughly explained everything that they did while they were doing it so that I was able to both observe and understand, encouraging me to ask any and all questions that I had. One instance of this was when I filmed my first stand-up at the Patriots first preseason game. Although I was extremely nervous and anxious to be on camera for the first time, especially as I was surrounded by professional sports reporters on the field, both Chelsi and our sports photographer encouraged me that I could do it, making me feel confident enough in my own abilities to be successful in doing so. Although they probably do not know how much that specific moment meant to me, it was one of the best from the entire summer because I felt as though I could experience for the first time what it would be like to have a career in this field, and knew that I had the full support of professional reporters to help me get there.  I truly think that this internship has prepared me for a career in the sports broadcasting industry in the near future, as I know now what will be expected of me in an entry-level position and all that I have to do now to be successful in earning one.

Cristina Vincente Interns as UConn Sport Management’s Event Planner

Written by: Cristina Vincente

Having grown up in Mansfield, Conn., my entire life has lead me to create a special bond with the University of Connecticut. After being accepted into the UConn Sport Management program and becoming a Digital Media Creative Team intern during my second semester in the program, that bond with this school and this program has only grown stronger. This summer, I was fortunate enough to build upon this bond while interning with the programs’ department head, Dr. Jennifer McGarry, to plan events for the Sport Management program. I was able to obtain this internship with the help of both Dr. McGarry and Digital Media Manager Nellie Schafer. They were aware of my passion for working with social media and event planning, and therefore lead me into this current position as event manager for Sport Management. I have been working right on campus, in Storrs, to plan alumni events and expand our program’s social and digital media efforts.

Sport Managemnt Event in Hartford
Sport Management alumni and friends gathered for an evening of networking on Aug. 24, 2017.

So far this summer, I have coordinated the Sport Management Alumni event that was held in New York City toward the end of June. In addition to planning it, I also was able to attend the actual event which was an amazing experience that connected me with a lot of alumni from the program. I also planned an alumni networking event that was held in Hartford, Conn. at the end of August as well as the 2017 Master’s Orientation that took place during the first week of the semester. I am currently in the process of planning this fall’s Career Night in Sport, which will be held in October. While establishing all of these events, I have been collaborating with several different individuals to figure out logistics for everything from food and catering, to photos at the event, to sending out invites. The event planning aspect of my internship has certainly been rewarding and a great experience.

Along with planning the events, part of my internship has included conducting several job interviews. I met with a variety of women working in different fields of the industry who were all at different stages in their respective careers. Speaking to such successful professionals exposed me to many career paths and opportunities. Each professional provided me with great advice and encouraged me to find my own path.

In addition to the events, job interviews and valuable connections, I have been continuing working with the Sport Management Digital Media Creative Team. As an intern for the team last spring semester and this coming fall, I have been helping to keep the program’s Twitter and Instagram actively engaged throughout the summer months. I have been able to highlight the events that I planned, use connections with alumni to feature them on our platforms and have been researching interesting topics and events in the sport world to feed our Twitter campaign, #EngageInTheDialogue.

The Digital Media Creative Team during last spring’s Sport Management Send-Off event.

There have been so many valuable takeaways from this internship for me. I have learned that the connections you make and the relationships you build in the sport industry are what will take you a long way in your future career. I have also learned a lot about appropriate etiquette for professional communication. Having to constantly communicate with the faculty, alumni, vendors and others in the field has taught me how to communicate effectively, whether it is via email, phone or an in person conversation.

Finally, I would say that one of the biggest learning experiences from all of the job interviews that I conducted is to stay true to who I am. Everyone has varying likes and interests and therefore everyone will have a different career path and different goals that cater to them. This has been an important lesson for me to learn as I enter my senior year and think of my future beyond undergrad and the path that I want to create for myself. I have enjoyed this experience in event planning and hope to continue along that same path as I more forward in my career. I hope to stay on the athletic side of events, because I love the atmosphere of working game days and just being around the excitement of sports. I love the unique connections that sport creates between people of different genders, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and much more. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity and I am very excited for how it will affect my post-graduate future plans.