Alumni SportStory: Jennifer Myatt at USTA New England

Alumni SportStory: Jennifer Myatt at USTA New England

Jennifer Myatt (2013)

As a part of a continuing series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumna Jennifer Myatt (Sport Management, 2013).

Ever since I started high school, I knew I wanted to work in the sports world. I came to realize that sports played a positive impact in my life- the social aspect and how it taught me values of hard work and team work. But where exactly in the sports industry? I came to college and was accepted into the sport management program. I knew exactly where I wanted my career to go once I took a service-based learning class: out in the community making a difference.

I am a Tennis Service Representative for USTA New England, a local section of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis. I work for the Community Tennis Department, apart from the competitive and high level tennis professionals we see on TV. Really my job is all about building relationships and creating partnerships. (I was offered a position to USTA New England after I was an intern for them in the Summer to complete my undergraduate degree, so it shows the process does work.)

I primarily work with schools, park and recreation agencies, and community tennis associations to teach and grow tennis. I am a tennis “trainer” despite never playing tennis until after I was hired with USTA. This means I visit elementary schools and deliver an “on-court” presentation on how to teach tennis in any nontraditional space, no courts required. Anyone can teach and play tennis. USTA recently changed the rules of tennis about 5 years ago, that promote lighter and shorter racquets along with tennis balls of different compression, so they bounce lower and are softer. This is great for beginners and also playing indoors. My job is to grow the sport of tennis and the possibilities and opportunities are endless. I work on connecting tennis providers to resources in the community to make their tennis program a quality and successful one. For example, a volunteer-based grassroots tennis program may not know where to play tennis, so I will connect them to a tennis club or other volunteers or stakeholders that can help or share their story.

The community department also offers grants to help start programs in a city, town, or school. I have helped get free youth-sized equipment into the hands of great youth-serving agencies as well as stipends to cover the cost of court fees, team t-shirts, and coaches. There are five major community tennis associations in the inner-cities of Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Danbury, and Norwalk and the USTA has a great relationship with them to support their efforts as they combine tennis and academic support in their youth program. Some of these organizations started out with no money or staff and now, years later, are incoporated nonprofit organizations with $200,000+ operating budgets.

I also manage a Junior Team Tennis league, that boasts over 1,500 participants yearly. I coordinate with many local tennis clubs and facilities on who is participating and when. I have to keep track of available court time for these youth teams and create and publish a schedule on a sport database, TennisLink. Teams qualify for the Connecticut USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championship each season and they meet at the end of the year to compete for the championship. I act as tournament director here and it is tough work but a lot of fun. Winners are the state level move on to New England Sectionals and then Nationals. The championships are held in the Summer and are is my busiest and most favorite time of year.

For a more in-depth view of what we do for an organization please see the article “Granting Tennis Wishes in Bridgeport”.

Classroom Focus: Application of Sport Law

Classroom Focus: Application of Sport Law

On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, students in Legal Aspects of Sport were engaged in a Moot Court oral argument assignment.

For this assignment, students were divided into four groups with three students in each group. Each group was assigned to represent the plaintiff or defendant in a hypothetical sport-related litigation scenario where they were asked to use legal concepts, theories, statistics, personal experiences, and creative/independent thinking to successfully research and develop their affirmative advocacy position in a written legal brief. On October 21, the groups orally presented and argued the positions expressed in their written submissions.IMG_2123

Denise Zamore, who has practiced law for 15 years and currently serves as a Senior Associate General Counsel at United Healthcare, presided over the oral arguments as the judge. Her active questioning and challenging of the students’ positions created a context and atmosphere that provided students with the opportunity to think on their feet and apply legal concepts and public policy considerations through a real-world advocacy exercise.

IMG_2129The Moot Court exercise was a success, and students were able to apply the theoretical knowledge they acquired thus far from the course to real life experiences (practical) and situations. Overall, students did an excellent job presenting their arguments. After the conclusion of the Moot Court exercise, Ms. Zamore provided students with useful feedback to consider in their future endeavors, involving sports law.



Industry Expert: Jemele Hill @ UConn

Industry Expert: Jemele Hill @ UConn

At an event hosted by the UConn Sport Business Association on September 22, 2015, students and faculty from the UConn Sport Management community were treated to a visit from the highly rated African-American columnist and broadcasting personality from ESPN, Jamele Hill, co-host of ESPN2’s His & Hers show.If you are a past, present, or prospective student, this was a great opportunity for students majoring in Sport Management, Business or Journalism to learn about Jemele’s background and experiences as she ascended through the ranks in pursuit of a career in sport journalism.

Jemele began by discussing her background, and how she managed to work herself up to journalistic heights she had never imagined reaching. A Detroit native, Jamele made the most of her time as a Journalism major at Michigan State, often juggling multiple internships with the athletic department in order to give her exposure to as many sports and media opportunities as possible. Her broad knowledge of sports was key in obtaining her first professional role as a sports writer at the Raleigh News & Observer. Jemele built upon this experience and went on to work for the Detroit Free Press, where she would cover both basketball and football for her alma mater. Her last stop before being employed by ESPN network was as a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. Since joining ESPN in 2006, she has made appearances on many shows across their network, including Sport Center, First Take, Outside the Lines and the Sport Reporters.

One of the key take-a-ways from this event was Jemele’s perseverance in achieving success as a sports journalist, as African-American women have tended to have a difficult time succeeding in the industry. All in all, this was a great event that was informative to past, present, and prospective UConn students who have future endeavors in Sport Management, Business or Journalism.

Alumni Focus: Brent Colborne – ESPN Programming

Alumni Focus: Brent Colborne – ESPN Programming


As a part of a new series, we turn the spotlight on members of the UConn Sport Management Program (SMP) Alumni Community, focusing on the diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge they have gained within the industry. Designed to help current and future SMP students learn to navigate and understand the real-world intricacies of sport management, we thank SMP alumni for their valuable contributions and insight. Today, the focus is on UConn alumnus Brent Colborne (B.S. in Business Administration, a Major in Business Management, Minor in Sport Management, 2005), who works in programming at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, CT.

Brent Colborne

Although it has been ten years since he graduated, UConn alumnus and ESPN employee Brent Colborne has been to Storrs twice in the last month – all in the name of giving current UConn sport management students an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for one of the industry’s broadcasting juggernauts. Making an appearance in both of Dr. Joseph Cooper’s Sport Marketing classes, as well as speaking at the “Career Night in Sports” event at the UConn Alumni Center on February 26, Colborne shared his perspectives on what students really need to do in order to position themselves to break into a sporting organization.

“Entry-level positions in the sporting industry have become so much more competitive,” said Colborne. “There’s a rising tide of applicants with a variety of skill sets to choose from, so it’s important to get as much experience as you can to help distinguish yourself from the crowd.” He told students to make the most of the time and opportunities they have at UConn – whether its an internship, a part-time job supporting any of the 24 varsity sports on campus or even volunteering at local community sports activities such as fun runs. The key is just putting yourself out there – experiences and networking opportunities are created through every small activity you get yourself involved in.

It’s also ok not to know exactly what you want to do while you’re still in school – although Colborne is a veteran of the sports programming world today, when he was a student at UConn, the concept of the job itself unknown to him. That is, until three UConn alumni who worked in that department at ESPN came to Storrs to speak about their jobs in sports at one of his classes. Now he is regularly negotiating broadcasting rights deals for all of the college sports programming you see on ESPN.

Reccommendations for students? “When you’re interviewing for a position, make sure you research the job,” said Colborne. “Be prepared or within five minutes an interviewer will know you haven’t done your homework.”

One can start with a search online for “sports programming” at ESPN. In doing so, you might learn that according to the organization’s website, the Programming Department’s mission is to create, acquire, and schedule premier content to engage fans and maximize audiences on all platforms that ESPN delivers on – they lead the development of sport strategies across the company and manage constructive relationships with league partners and organizers. What does that mean in practical day to day terms? Thanks to Brent Colborne, attendees of the “Career Night in Sports” and in Dr. Cooper’s classes not only know the answer to that question, they have a richer understanding of the role – and even more valuable than that, they now have a great contact in the industry to help guide them should they wish to pursue a similar career in the field.

Sport Administration Focus – Debbie Corum


Sport Administration Focus – Debbie Corum

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 12.02.07 PMThe UConn Sport Business Association was recently treated to a speaking engagement with Debbie Corum, UConn’s Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Sport Administration and Senior Woman Administrator.

With more than 20 years of experience in the administration of intercollegiate athletics, Corum told a myriad of stories of the challenges she faced, successes she achieved, and shared some insider’s tips on how the students might break in to the sport industry.

In her role at UConn, Corum serves as the sports administrator for women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, field hockey and golf. She serves as chair of the Sports Administrators Group and responsible for gender equity, athletic training, strength and conditioning, sports performance and strategic planning.

Corum’s career in the industry also had highlights as the Associate Commissioner of Championships at the SEC – developing promotional plans, coordinating television schedules and managing event staff – and working as the Assistant Athletic Director of Intercollegiate Sports at Stanford, where she was the Tournament Director for NCAA and conference events that were held on campus.

But how did she start? After the former athlete earned her bachelor of science degree from Vanderbilt in psychology and education, she had trouble finding work in education – so she took an entry-level job as a receptionist at the SEC. She performed her job so well, in six months she was promoted. Six months later she was promoted again. Six months after that… promoted yet again.

Her top three recommendations to students?

1 – “Do whatever you can to expose yourself to sports, particularly volunteering whenever the opportunity presents itself.”
2 – “When you get that foot in the door, do every job you have to the best of your abilities and you will get noticed.”
3 – “Be careful of whose hands you step on as you climb the ladder. Everybody falls at one point or another, but how far you fall depends on how many hands are there to catch you.”

Wise suggestions, indeed!

Student Focus – UConn Students Attend Mark H. McCormack Sport Management Future Industry Leaders Conference

(L-R: Johnny Giovannucci ’15, Christos Schwarz ’18, Theus McBee ’16, Angela Altamura ’16, Charles Lin ’16, Javier Barragan ’15, Paul Wettemann, III ’18)


UConn Students Attend Mark H. McCormack Sport Management Future Industry Leaders Conference


On February 21, 2015, seven UConn Sport Business Association members made their way to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to attend the Mark H. McCormack Sport Management Future Industry Leaders Conference (FILC), which focused on bridging the gap between sport management classroom learning and real world experience. Today, Javier Barragan (UConn ’15) shares his experiences attending the conference with the rest of the UConn Sport Management community:

Javier Barragan (’15)

My senior year spring semester, I finally met with the trio of UMass Amherst students I had been in contact with since fall semester junior year. Ronnell DeNegre, Brody Mankus and Tony Dombrowski, three students of the UMass Future Industry Leaders team, had been in contact with Theus McBee (’16), me and the rest of the UConn Sport Business Association as references for advice and feedback from an outside perspective as this was going to be its inaugural year. Through our numerous phone calls, e-mails and text messages, a working relationship of trust and reciprocity developed between UConn SBA and UMass, one that I hope to see continue moving forward.

In its inaugural year the event itself was put on very successfully. Through snowy Amherst roads, we arrived to catered breakfast snacks and a fraternity of sport industry minded students and professionals. After checking in our coats and brief networking, the event started with the keynote speaker, AEG’s Chuck Steedman. He stressed three major points: networking, following up and a strong work ethic – none were novel ideas, and all points that as a senior who has attended many conferences like UMass’s has heard before. That being said, I certainly understand why he stressed networking and following up: students do not do it enough. Steedman, an UMass Alum and former Director of Athletic Marketing at UConn, framed it as developing a relationship by checking in every few months. These words were then echoed verbatim in the next section by UMass Sport Management Lecturer Ryan Spalding in the next portion of the day. Following the keynote speech, roughly 100 students separated into five industry sections, where we were tasked with a case study focused on that particular industry segment. My industry segment, finance, was led by Spalding and Michael Moran, VP of Chaney Group Holdings, where they each discussed their past and parlayed it into disseminating knowledge onto each of the groups in the finance segment.

This section of the conference was the crux of it and the separator from other conferences. Each student had signed up weeks prior indicating what industry segment – Finance, Sales, Facility and Event Management, Athlete Representation, and Marketing – he or she was interested in. We were to be then placed in that section with other students whom had selected the same industry to then read, discuss and present a solution to a case study, all in about two hours. Throughout this portion I learned more about myself when it comes to working in a group and more about the sports finance industry (and facilities as there was some overlap), all while developing a foundation of networks with both my group members and finance industry representatives.

After all groups presented, there was an hour to network in the Isenberg Atrium followed by the “Young Guns” panel, a foursome of UMass Sport Management Alums who are a few years into their careers. They answered a few questions, such as best advice received, what they would change if they had a second chance at UMass, and the importance of mentors. Closing remarks followed as well as more networking.

Would I attend this event next year? Yes. For one, the opportunity to network with both people who can help me as well as people I can help is priceless. Though I do not know what tomorrow has in store for me, I am sure networks made at this event can provide fruitful contributions then. Additionally, there was definitely an educational aspect. I learned more about sport finance in terms of debt structure, time value of money, interests of debtors and lenders and general industry metrics. Setting the bar high, I commend Ronnell, Brody and Tony and the rest of the UMass FILC team for putting on this great event

The International Language of Sport

The International Language of Sport

Excerpt Courtesy of UConn Today, by David Bauman
Please click here for the complete article.

Connecticut is 12,500 miles from South Africa. But shooting hoops with fifth-graders at the Clark Elementary & Middle School gym in Hartford recently, Sikhulu Zondo was suddenly aware that playing with the American students had erased the age and cultural barriers between them.

“I’m so glad to be here,” said the Cape Town middle school teacher. Sweeping her arm in a gesture encompassing all the players – which included 10 UConn students – she added: “When I get back home, I’m going to start a program like Husky Sport.”

Husky Sport is a campus-community partnership that provides groups of UConn students as mentors who between them spend 40 hours a week engaged in sports with Clark School students. At the same time, they build friendships that, in time, allow them to also talk about nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and life skills, as well as provide tutoring and other academic support.

Sikhulu said her students at the Ark Ministries Christian School for homeless children where she works mostly live at the school, so after school they need something like Husky Sport.

Through a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs SportsUnited Division, UConn, partnering with the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, hosted a 12-day Sports for Cultural Change program in October for 10 South African educators, including Sikhulu, who manage community or school youth sports programs that use sport as a tool for positive social change.

Developed by UConn’s Global Training and Development Institute, the two-way exchange provided the African participants – chosen by the University of Western Cape through a merit-based, competitive process – the chance to interact with Americans and experience American society, culture, and values firsthand.

See the rest of this UConn Today article by clicking here.

UConn Alum Pledges $5 Million Match for Soccer Complex


UConn Alum Pledges $5 Million Match for Soccer Complex

(News article courtesy of UConn Today)

Former UConn men’s soccer student-athlete Tony Rizza ’87 (BUS) has pledged a total of $8 million to transform the soccer complex and build a brand new state-of-the-art soccer stadium on the Storrs campus.

The new facility will be built on the site of the current Joseph J. Morrone Stadium and will bear the same name. The overall soccer complex, which will include the new stadium as well as the existing training grounds and practice field adjacent to the stadium, will be named the Rizza Family Soccer Complex in recognition of this transformative gift.

Rizza’s new pledge is for $5 million to match donations for the facility, and two years ago he gave $3 million for the project. Combined, these two gifts make him the single largest donor in the history of the UConn Division of Athletics.

“This gift is my way of recognizing coaches, faculty, and campus staff who helped me while I was at UConn, and it’s a small way of saying thank you,” says Rizza, who is senior managing director of Columbus Circle Investors Inc., a Stamford investment advisory firm with $16.6 billion in assets and 65 employees

Current UConn men’s soccer head coach Ray Reid was the first donor to support Rizza’s match with his own gift of $100,000.

“It was Husky Soccer under Coach Morrone that helped put UConn Athletics in the national spotlight, winning UConn’s first NCAA men’s championship in any sport in 1981, and Coach Reid continues that great tradition,” says University President Susan Herbst. “Since then, UConn soccer has become one of the nation’s premier programs, with both the men’s and women’s teams among the elite programs in the country.

“Morrone Stadium is one of the nation’s most enthusiastic college soccer venues, drawing record numbers of vocal fans year after year,” adds Herbst. “Tony Rizza’s generous gift will help make an already great program at Storrs even better.”

Morrone was the head men’s soccer coach at UConn from 1969 to 1996, and led the Huskies to an NCAA Championship, three trips to the national semifinals, and a total of 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Rizza played for the Huskies from 1983 to 1986, and started 59 games as a back during his career. He played in three NCAA tournaments, and was part of two Big East Conference championship squads. Rizza was the winner of UConn’s Eric S. Lund Award as a sophomore, given to the team’s most improved player. A native of Newington, Conn., Rizza was an all-state high school performer at Newington High.

“My experience at UConn and, more specifically, with the men’s soccer program provided me with important life skills that have helped me succeed in my career,” says Rizza. “To be a successful student-athlete at a high level like UConn’s, one must be disciplined, dedicated, motivated, and focused on achieving goals. I learned this during my four years playing soccer in Storrs, and I have used it in my professional life every day since the day I graduated.

“I look forward to seeing my gift help UConn build a world-class soccer complex that will keep both the men’s and women’s soccer programs in their spots among the premier soccer programs in America – a place where players want to play, and UConn students and fans want to come to enjoy the finest collegiate soccer in America.”

Reid, who has been the Huskies’ head coach since 1997, says: “A gift of this magnitude from a former student-athlete confirms the value of the University and its soccer program to everyone involved with it. I’m confident with Tony’s leadership, this new stadium will quickly become a reality and serve as a strong recruiting tool that will keep the soccer teams strong for years to come.”

The original Joseph J. Morrone Stadium opened in 1969 and developed from a simple facility with sideline bleachers and a portable press box. Over the years, numerous improvements and upgrades to the facility were made on an individual project basis. While it remains one the most attended college facilities in the country, it has outlived its usefulness compared to other facilities around the country.

The Husky men’s and women’s soccer teams are perennial powerhouses in the sport, and the teams draw large crowds to Morrone Stadium. The Husky men’s soccer team has won three national championships, including the one in 1981 by Morrone and in 2000 under Reid. The UConn women’s soccer team, under head coach Len Tsantiris, has appeared in the NCAA tournament in 28 of the past 32 years, with trips to two national championship games and seven national semifinals.