Sport Management Alumni

Summer Networking Series: Sport Management Alumni Reunite in Hartford

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

The UConn Sport Management program held its third annual summer networking event at the Salute Restaurant in downtown Hartford, Conn. on August 24.

The night was filled with many laughs and stories shared between alumni, faculty and sport professionals, paired with great food and drinks. The event served as an opportunity for the programs’ alumni to reconnect in a positive, outdoor atmosphere.

Many of the incoming Sport Management graduate students were also in attendance at this years event and were able to meet with some of the established and successful alumni who are still in the area.

Attendees included Sport Management faculty members Dr. Laura Burton, Dr. Joseph Cooper and Dr. Jennifer McGarry. Several alumni who are currently working with UConn Athletics were also present at the event, including Kristina Tedford, Danielle Upham and Jason Lublin.

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

Members of the Sport Management faculty, staff and internship programs who planned this networking event enjoyed providing an opportunity for alumni to stay connected with the program, as well as the new and past individuals who will always be a part of it.

The event marked a perfect end to the summer and an exciting start to the upcoming school year. As the fall semester commences, the program is looking forward to the annual Career Night in Sport, which will be held on October 17. Information and registration for this event can be found on the Sport Management website, under ‘Upcoming Events,’ or by visiting the event page.  clicking this link.

Student-athletes forced to jump through hoops: Graduate student Pat McKenna on his time with UConn women’s basketball program

Pat McKenna HeadshotPat McKenna, the UConn Associate Director of Athletic Communications and current Sport Management graduate student, works primarily with the women’s basketball team. He shares his experiences working with the organization, specifically while at the NCAA Final Four, and discusses the strenuous responsibilities that these student athletes have during that time, in addition to winning games.

I have had the privilege of serving as the primary media relations contact for the UConn women’s basketball team for the past six years. Each of those years has ended in a trip to the NCAA Final Four and the last four seasons have successfully concluded with the Huskies hoisting the NCAA national championship trophy.

Though traveling with the Huskies to the Final Four has been both exciting and rewarding, it has also become apparent that the NCAA and ESPN seem to have little regard for dedicating free time to student athletes. The rigorous schedule that the players, especially the five starters, are forced to endure during the days leading up to the national semifinal makes it difficult for them to make their performances in the game the priority.

The Division I NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Final Four was held in Indianapolis in 2016, a great host city due to the fully-equipped Bankers Life Fieldhouse that offers several hotels in close proximity, allowing teams a short commute to and from the arena. But before the four competing teams are able to participate in any kind of competition, they are required to run through a gauntlet of media responsibilities, beginning two days before the national semifinal.UConn Women's Basketball team participates in a round table discussion at the NCAA Final Four Tournament.

In my three previous Final Four experiences, this session took place at the arena. However, in 2016, it was instead held at the palatial NCAA headquarters. I must admit that the setup of the NCAA headquarters was ideal, due to the fact that the building offers several large rooms in close proximity, making it easy to travel from one requirement to the next.

On the Friday before the national semifinal, I drove the five starters and Geno Auriemma to the NCAA headquarters in an NCAA courtesy van, armed only with our itinerary that included constant media responsibilities from 10:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All six Huskies knew what was ahead of them when we met that morning, which is why none of them seemed very happy to see me.

The first item on the agenda was a “tease shoot” for ESPN and NCAA.com. During this 50 minute session, each player and coach is asked to perform a variety of tasks, including but not limited to staring at the camera in an intimidating fashion, yelling excitedly and answering questions asked by ESPN and NCAA.com producers. These clips are then displayed during the game broadcast on ESPN and online on ESPN.com, ESPNw.com and NCAA.com.

Some of the NCAA representatives and I were able to corral everyone and bring them down the hall to the Summitt and Wooden rooms, where all six Huskies met with the ESPN production team for a half hour to hold off-camera interviews. The talent team, consisting of Beth Mowins, Doris Burke and Holly Rowe, was in attendance for this session, along with game producer Phil Dean and several other ESPN employees who play an integral role in the game broadcast.

This half hour is valuable for the production crew because it provides an opportunity for them to gather background information from the players and from Coach Auriemma that they can then use during the broadcast. It also offers a chance for the organization’s members to get to know the players a little better and to further comprehend the mindset of the team. All of the players, and especially Coach Auriemma, feel comfortable talking candidly with this group as its members are both trustworthy and professional. Everyone truly enjoys working with all of the organization employees.

Once the HuskiesBreanna Stewart, UConn Women's Basketball player stands in front of green screen as part of a photo shoot at the NCAA Final Four Tournament. have wrapped up with the production crew, the team rotates to different rooms where they hold discussions with the Westwood One radio crew and film some additional light-hearted, on-camera antics to be used on the in-arena video board.

With all the hoops that this team is forced to jump through, it can oftentimes become pushed to the side what they are truly here to do – win a national championship. If the team were to lose that vision, even for only one second, they would be brought back to reality very quickly at the start of practice following our time at the NCAA headquarters.

Former Husky Returns to UConn for Professional Networking Opportunity

Brent Colborne, ESPN’s Director of Programming and Acquisitions, graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2005 with a B.S. in Business Administration and a minor in Sport Management.

Brent Colborne speaking at Sport Business ConferenceThough he has been a UConn alumnus for 12 years, Colborne’s dedication to the university and its current students has remained persistent during his time at ESPN.

On Feb. 13, Colborne and his programming team visited UConn and attended a networking event hosted by the Sport Management program to discuss their experiences working in the sport industry with juniors and seniors in the program.

Colborne shared that one of the most challenging aspects of his professional career was ultimately getting his foot in the door with ESPN, and mentioned that he might not have been able to do so without the help of the faculty at UConn.

While taking a Sport Management class taught by Dr. Jennifer (Bruening) McGarry, Colborne was introduced to three executives from ESPN, all of who still work with him in the programming department. Having met one of them a few weeks prior at an ESPN career fair and connecting with her a couple of times after, the rest was history. He provided her with his resume, she passed it on, and he interviewed and was offered an internship with the organization during the spring semester of his senior year.

Colborne acknowledged that one of his favorite parts about returning to campus that day was having the ability to do for current students what previous professors and executives did for him during his time at UConn.

Brent Colborne joined Sport Management students at an ESPN Networking event, spring 2017“Being able to pay it forward to the Dr. McGarry’s of the world – I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for her and other people who were there when I was there,” he said. “I was looking at it as an opportunity to give what I wish I had when I was a junior or senior back to students at UConn, and that was the most rewarding experience.”

Though he enjoyed showing his colleagues the place where he had spent four years of his life, Colborne was excited to network with current students and provide them with valuable advice regarding their future careers and aspirations in the sport industry.

“Take advantage of what UConn has to offer,” he said. “We’ve got unbelievable facilities, best-in-class teams at all levels, so for someone who wants to work in the sport field and not take advantage of those opportunities with successful teams and great venues would be a disservice to that major.”