In January, business school students led by Assistant Dean of Student Affairs & Professor of Sport Management, Fritz G. Polite, Ph.D., traveled to Tampa, Florida, to attend the 2017 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game.
The five students including master of business administration student and Sport Business Club (SBC) Co-President Casey Edsall ’16, ’17, senior sport management major and SBC Co-President Cassandra Tabarini ’17, senior business administration major and SBC Director of Administration Matthew Laird ’17, junior sport management major Malik Henry ’18 and sophomore sport management major Laura Pearson ’19. Each student gained invaluable work experience.
While the top two teams in college football – University of Alabama and Clemson University – battled for the championship (Clemson beat Alabama, 35-31), the students, who are all members of the SBC, worked with and learned from the organizers of this event, which has, in the past, drawn more than 75,000 attendees and 23 million TV viewers.
Over the course of their time in Tampa, which ran from Thursday, Jan. 5, through Tuesday, Jan. 10, the group worked several events in the days leading up to the game, as well as during the game itself, which is was on Monday, Jan. 9, at Raymond James Stadium. The students worked directly with representatives from the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. The students were able to gain media operations skills and throughout their time working with CFP officials.
“I learned that I go to a small school and there are lots of people who are out there doing the same thing I want to do. You have to work hard in the field and you don’t realize that until you go to a major event like this one. There was something about witnessing history that is cool,” Pearson said, when asked about her experience with the College Football Playoff. The Shenandoah University students were a key component for helping media officials run the event smoothly.
The students also gained experience by observing and learning from industry experts while performing tasks related to media credentialing, hospitality and fan event management/experience. They were assigned event operations responsibilities over the course of 12 hours on the day of the championship game.
“Polite has given us a great amount of responsibility for getting this off the ground, so from the beginning, it has been students planning the trip,” said Laird. The trip to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was the first of many major experiential learning opportunities for Shenandoah University students.
“This is a great example of the power of partnerships between the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Engagement,” said Dr. Polite.