Author: John Schumacher

High Octane Internship at the Daytona International Speedway

Story written by: Zachary Volo

I remember seeing “Daytona International Speedway Guest Relations, Spring 2016” so vividly. After relentlessly looking for internship opportunities where I would be able to extend my horizons, I applied on a whim knowing they were undergoing one of the largest renovations in sport history. Three weeks and two interviews later, I knew I was spending the spring semester of 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida to be a part of one of the most iconic days in motorsports history.

During the twelve-week program, the experience encompassed a wide variety of work in the sport management field, specifically on the operations side. Most of my work focused directly on ensuring the newly built stadium was going to offer the best guest experience not only in motorsport, but in all of sport. In doing so, I was able to learn the magnitude of importance properly staffing an event holds in the bigger picture.

After countless hours of updating employee availability, building the schedule, and a whirlwind of unprecedented stress, I was able to take a step back and watch all my hard work pay off at multiple NASCAR events. The most notable of those being the Daytona 500, which required a grand total of 724 employees to staff the stadium properly. Although I have never been to a race before, I have been to multiple sporting events, and after this experience I will never look at them the same. I will forever appreciate the amount of work, time, and effort that certainly went into hosting that race, game, or match.

The University of Connecticut Sport Management program has molded me into a young professional equipped to take on any and all challenges in the sport business world. Over the course of my time at UConn, I have built relationships with the faculty and students that I know will last a lifetime. Whether working as an Athletic Administrative Assistant to the university’s Athletic Department to being a member of the Sport Business Association, UConn has allowed me to open doors I never thought imaginable. I guarantee I would not be where I am today without the help this program has provided me. An education experience like this comes few and far between, and I am both proud and grateful to be a Husky.

Issues in Sports: Athletes and Activism

Issues in Sports: Athletes and Activism

Round table talk explores athletes’ place as role models, activists

Article written by Kimberly Armstrong, re-published courtesy of The Daily Campus

Student athletes and sports management experts met Thursday morning in the CLAS building to explore athletes’ places as role models and activists.

The round table talk, “Issues in Sports: Athletes and Activism,” was the third and final lecture of Wura Olusekun’s special project for the sports management master’s program. Olusekun said the goal of the panel was to challenge the perception that athletes should remain neutral in public and to encourage conversations about race at the University of Connecticut.

“These conversations are extremely important and they give us the opportunity to see athletes as multidimensional,” Olusekun said during her introduction.

There’s a difference between being a role model and an activist, though, assistant professor of sports management Joseph Cooper said during the panel. While other people can choose athletes as their role models, he explained, athletes have to choose to be activists.

“Similar to the notion that sports don’t operate in a vacuum, we as individuals don’t exist in a vacuum. Our multiple identities are always present,” Cooper said. “I just think taking the time to educate yourself on these issues is important.”

Cooper, whose work involves studying stereotypes about players’ abilities based on race and other factors, said athletes must be empowered to take a stand on issues they care about.

While today’s players have brought attention to the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing black on the court and even boycotting games, one of the best known instances of athlete activism occurred at the 1968 Olympics when track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos supported the Black Power movement by raising their fists in solidarity on the podium.

Morgan Tuck, forward for the UConn women’s basketball team and an 8th-semester business management major, said she thinks it’s important for players to be informed and to experience college life beyond the court. Tuck, for example, joined a sorority and does community service in her free time.

“I think as athletes we kind of live in a bubble, so some of these social justice issues we don’t really experience,” Tuck said. “As athletes we do have a voice and we should use it.”

Tuck said she began to recognize her power to push change as a UConn athlete when a fan asked her to record a video congratulating her and her girlfriend on their recent engagement. While the young women’s parents weren’t entirely comfortable with same sex marriage at the start, Tuck said the video helped smooth things over for the lovestruck Huskies.

Reaching out to the community can also help student athletes figure out who they are off the field, said Joshua Marriner, a former UConn football player currently competing on the track team. Marriner, an 8th-semester communications major, does service projects with his fraternity in addition to working with minority athletes at Project Uplift.

“They were able to actually build me as a man and teach me that I have other things going for myself besides athletics,” Marriner said. “It took me branching out to realize that I need to grow as more than just an athlete because one day athletics is going to be over for me and who am I going to be after that?”

Marriner said it’s also important to be a positive example for the next generation of kids who look up to the players they see on TV.

“Even if it’s not on the field, they need to know that they can make it in other ways in their life,” Marriner said.

Marquise Vann, a former UConn football player and 8th-semester urban and community studies major, said he views being a good role model as an obligation.

“The way I think about it is without someone being there to support me there is no way I would be at the University of Connecticut,” said Vann, who credits his grandmother with pushing him to succeed.

The NACWAA Mentor Program

The NACWAA Mentor Program

Written By Paige Klostermann
Paige Klostermann

The National Association for Collegiate Women’s Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) is committed to increasing connectivity among women athletic administrators. Even more so in recent years has NACWAA started to help build relationships between successful industry leaders and new-comers through the NACWAA Mentor Program. The NACWAA Mentor Program is a program in which mentors (successful administrators) are paired with mentees (talented up-and-comers) that are committed to advancing and excelling within collegiate athletics. The hope is that the mentorship that is built is mutually beneficial for both parties.

Current second-year UConn sport management graduate student, Paige Klostermann, was accepted into the NACWAA Mentor Program this year as a mentee. Klostermann was matched with Angel Mason, Assistant Athletic Director at Hamilton College, a Division III college in New York. Within the application process Klostermann listed her future career goals, strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas in which she wished to learn more about. Mason fulfilled many of the things Klostermann was looking for as she has held multiple roles within coaching and administration across the country.

The three part mentor program begins at the NACWAA national convention in October where each individual is able to meet each other. It is there where a program goal(s) is decided and a strategic plan is made on how to go about achieving that goal throughout the course of the year. Klostermann had a goal in mind to learn more about the job search process and ultimately find a job within collegiate athletics after graduation.

Paige & Angel currently keep in touch via phone calls and emails on a consistent basis to update each other about the job search, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of each other. “Angel has an outstanding mentor to have through the job search process. She has brought new ideas to the table for me, answered numerous questions regarding resumes and cover letters, and has truly been a strong advocate for me when positions become available” Klostermann said.

The NACWAA mentor program has about 60 females that are paired within the program. Mentors range from Athletic Directors to Conference Commissioners to NCAA representatives and mentees range from graduate assistants to young administrators and coaches. While the program lasts a year, it is the hope that these mentorships will last a lifetime. For more information regarding NACWAA and the Mentor Program, visit: www.nacwaa.org. Applications open for the upcoming Mentor Program in early August with announcements regarding program participation/acceptance in mid-September.

UConn SMP Students Volunteer for the USWNT

Student Focus: Volunteering for the US Women’s National Soccer Team

Written By Sofia Read
Sofia Read

On Wednesday April 6, 2016, the Sport Management students, staff, and friends, had the unique opportunity to volunteer at the U.S. Women’s National Team game vs Colombia at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut. Despite the rather colder weather conditions, there was a fantastic turnout to support the reigning World Cup Champions.

The volunteer opportunity was organized through The U.S. Soccer Federation and their analytics department. Our primary responsibility was to recruit fans to participate in a quick survey created by the Federation. The survey included basic questions related to demographics, the family or individuals’ fandom, and knowledge of U.S. Soccer product and services. Volunteers arrived approximately 2 hours before kick-off for a brief run down of duties and expectations. We all received U.S. Soccer Shirts featuring the new logo to wear during the game. From the time the gates opened to kick-off, we spread ourselves throughout the concourse to collect responses for the survey.

Although it was an unusually cold April evening, it was exciting and impressive to see so many passionate fans draped in red, white, & blue. In addition, many fans were openly supportive of the recent U.S. Women’s National Team wage discrimination lawsuit.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 9.27.09 AMThe team dominated on the attack and beat Colombia 7-0, scoring a speedy 4 goals in just 12 minutes. Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, Mallory Pugh, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, and Christen Press all tallied impressive goals on the night. Colombia and The U.S. Women will meet again on April 10th, at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.

This exciting volunteer opportunity allowed us to not only witness a great soccer game, but also gain experience in fan engagement and organizational practices. Overall, it was a rewarding experience that provided sport management students the ability to gain additional insight into the industry.

April 7 – Washington DC Area SMP Alumni Event @ Clyde’s of Gallery Place

April 7 – Washington DC Area SMP Alumni Event @ Clyde’s of Gallery Place

Attention all Washington DC UConn Sport Management Family alumni!

Be sure to join Dr. Jennifer McGarry (formerly Bruening) and your fellow UConn SMP alumni at Clyde’s of Gallery Place on April 7, 2016 at 7pm for an evening of friendship and networking in Washington DC.

To RSVP, or to ask any questions, please contact Dr. McGarry directly at jennifer.mcgarry@uconn.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

UConn Sport Management Students Attend McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference at UMass Amherst

UConn Sport Management Students Attend McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference at UMass Amherst

(Top, left to right): Michael Niegro (’16), Dylan Kartchner (’17), Matthew Bloomgarden (’17), Glynn Johnson (’18), Paul Wettemann (’18), Jaelin Johnson (’18). (Bottom, left to right): Angela Altamura (’16), Aaron Ryley (’17), Daniel Carrick (’18) and Christos Schwarz (’18)
Written By Christos Schwarz
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Christos Schwarz (’18)

After leaving the McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference in February of 2015, I felt like I had taken a large first step towards my goal to become a sport professional. Even though I had been a member of the UConn Sport Business Association for a semester, and at the time was the newly elected Associate Vice President, I had only just started working in the Video Services division of UConn Athletics. While I had learned many pieces of advice from the various professionals that the SBA hosts as guest speakers, I hadn’t been able to use nearly any of it yet. I got a great opportunity that day to use what I had learned in my first experiential learning environment. I went on to tell other students I learned more that day about Sport Management than any other in my first year at UConn.

It was the second year of the McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference, and I was excited to get back. Our group of ten students powered through an early wake up and arrived in Amherst at 8AM, excited to be greeted and welcomed into the Isenberg School of Management. There we were served breakfast, and took some time to get to know some of the other UConn students on the trip I didn’t previously know, as well as reconnect with some familiar faces from the year prior. The event began soon after with the keynote speaker, Ben Percia, who is the VP of Platform Development at Fenway Sport Management. He spoke about his path to where he is today, and being able to leave your comfort zone in order to reach new heights of your career. He mentioned how he felt slightly uncomfortable giving his first keynote address, but it’s an experience that he was glad to get and he hopes he will be asked to do again sometime in the future. Following the keynote, we were dismissed to our workshop groups.

This year, the conference had five segments; Event and Facility Management, Sport Finance, Sport Sales, Representation and Sport Marketing. I was in the Sales group, lead by Preetam Sen, a Director of Partnership Sales for Manchester City FC and City Football Group, and Ryan England, a Manager of Premium Partnerships for the New York Jets. For our workshop, we were grouped with students from other schools, and our task was to present as a New York sports team to the fictional Bank of Gotham on why they should become a corporate sponsor of ours. The sales professionals provided valuable feedback and advice to the groups as they presented, and even when they had constructive criticism they reminded us “it’s business, don’t ever take it personally.”

Once the workshops wrapped up, a networking hour began in the Isenberg Atrium. We continued to talk with professionals, and of course made sure we got good pictures in our business professional attire to update our LinkedIn profiles with. Afterwards, the final event of the program began, the ‘Young Guns’ panel. This year’s group featured professionals who work in the New York, Boston and Atlanta markets, and offered advice on how to stay up to date on the dealings in the industry, do’s and don’t’s of interviews, and advice for applying to jobs and internships. Following that, there was time to briefly network with a few more professionals, and then the day was done. Another successful McCormack Future Industry Leaders Conference was in the books, and I applaud UMass’ entire Sport Management community, especially the Committee’s Chair Nicholas Kaminski, on a job well done. I really hope to be able to continue to participate in this conference in the future.

Going to this event the past two years has inspired myself and other students to put on an event like this at UConn. While we are still in the planning stages, we now have a team in place and are confident we will be able to accomplish what our friends at UMass have been able to. They have been a great help to us so far, and I trust they will continue to be.

DON’T MISS IT! Book Signing and Q&A with “INDENTURED” author Joe Nocera – March 8, 4:00-6:00pm

Book Signing and Q&A with “INDENTURED” author Joe Nocera – March 8, 4:00-6:00pm

Images courtesy of Joe Nocera and Penguin Random House

DON’T MISS IT!

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Author Joe Nocera

Joe Nocera, New York Times journalist and columnist, and an author of the new book, “Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA” is coming to the UConn Storrs Campus for a book signing event which will be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 from 4:00pm-6:00pm at the Storrs Center Bookstore. The event will include a moderated interview and question and answer dialogue.

Click here for the NY Times review of the book.Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.47.12 AM

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Issues in Sport: Diversity in Sport Leadership

Issues in Sport: Diversity in Sport Leadership

Article written by Kimberly Armstrong, re-published courtesy of The Daily Campus

Earlier this year, the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the NFL’s first female full-time assistant coach. Despite the excitement surrounding Smith’s ascent into football history, the consensus among panelists Thursday morning at “Issues in Sports: Diversity in Sports Leadership” was that this is just the beginning for women on the sidelines.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.03.07 PM“Issues in Sports: Diversity in Sports Leadership” was part of sports management graduate student Wura Olusekun’s cornerstone project. Olusekun, who hosted the panel, said she chose to study sports management at UConn’s School of Education because of the program’s emphasis on diversity and social issues.

“I’m not an athlete but I was very interested in the connection between education and athletics,” Olusekun said. “The term ‘coach’ and ‘teacher’ can be interchangeable.”

In order for women and minorities to progress through the ranks of sports management, athletics organizations need to understand how diversity ties into the overarching goals of a successful franchise, said panelist Nicole Melton, an assistant professor of sports management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Melton said that her research into Division 1 programs suggests that the most diverse programs are also the most competitive.

“We saw that the ones that had the most diversity and the most inclusive practices, they out performed other D1 leagues, they made more money,” Melton said.

Making these changes across the world of athletics, however, has to be about more than just PR to be effective. According to the panelists, it requires a cultural shift away from “tokenism,” the pursuit of diversity for diversity’s sake, in exchange for ongoing support of inclusive workplaces that encourage employees to reach their full potential.

“It can’t just be, ‘oh we need to hire some diversity’,” Melton said. “It needs to really be tied to the message [of the organization] so that people understand why this is beneficial.”Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.03.21 PM

Fleurette King, director of the Rainbow Center at the University of Connecticut, likened this shift to the recent changes in how the NFL and other leagues handle concussions among players. No matter how supportive an organization’s policies surrounding concussions may be, King explained, players are still at risk if league culture values keeping them in the game over their long term health.

“If you don’t change the culture around how people feel about the concussion, and how they feel before and after the concussion, it’s not going to help,” King said.

Similarly, women, people of color and LGBTQ people can’t be fully appreciated in sports leadership positions if they are viewed as tokens of diversity rather than accomplished colleagues who deserve to be there. This is part of the reason why policies like the Rooney Rule, which requires the NFL to interview minority candidates for open coaching positions, can be less than effective even when they do result in a minority candidate getting the job.

Another issue with this type of hiring policy is implicit bias, the human tendency to be most comfortable with familiar people. As an example, Melton, a Texas native, admitted she would feel an immediate bond with anyone from the south even if she knew nothing else about them. The impact of this implicit bias can be as simple as who someone decides to start a conversation with or, in this case, as high stakes as who gets chosen for a head coaching position.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.03.35 PM“We see with research that we tend to think similar things with race, with gender, with sexual orientation,” Melton said. “If there’s only three old white dudes on the search committee, they might not recognize the implicit bias that they have.”

Laura Burton, an associate professor of sports management at UConn, said she believes exposing athletes to female coaching early on could help remove the barriers to women at the university and professional levels. While there remains a mix of male and female coaches for women’s sports, encouraging female coaches to stick with youth sports past middle school could help shake the idea that male players require a strong male presence to perform on the field.

“It could mean a mix of men and women at all levels, and I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see that but I’d like to move us in that direction,” Burton said. “We need to recognize that right now women only have access to one group.”

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Student Focus: Josh Marriner – “I’m a lot more than a football player.”

Student Focus: Josh Marriner – “I’m a lot more than a football player.”

Photo courtesy of UConnHuskies.com, USATSI

Josh Marriner, president Collective Uplift a UConn student-organized program that provides resources and workshops for minority athletes that encourages holistic development, was recently profiled by the Hartford Courant following his partition in a panel discussion called “The State of Black Males in the United States, Realities and Resolve“.

Click HERE to read the Courant article (free registration).