Shenandoah University’s Sport Business Association continues to provide students across various areas of study with valuable experiential learning opportunities at the country’s largest sporting events.
Recently, a group of SU students attended the College Football Playoffs National Championship game in Indianapolis in January, and a second group will travel to Los Angeles for Super Bowl LVI, which takes place on Sunday, Feb. 13, at SoFi Stadium.
The trips are the latest in a long string of opportunities afforded to Shenandoah students thanks to the extensive network built by Fritz Polite, Ph.D., associate vice president for student leadership and development and an associate professor of sport management, as well as the support of Shenandoah leadership. Students who are chosen for such trips through an interview process with the SBA receive valuable first-hand exposure to the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting on a successful sporting event, and they gain real-world knowledge vital to the pursuit of a career in sports management.
The industry wants people who can hit the ground running. They don’t want to have to teach you about event management, teach you about marketing and sponsorship, teach you about communication and public relations. They don’t want to teach you that. That’s our job. They want somebody to be able to come in and to be able to take an event and execute it. When you’re doing these types of events, it’s like a practice run.”
Fritz Polite, Ph.D., associate vice president for student leadership and development
Shenandoah School of Business students Matt McIntosh ’23, Mykiah Bonhom ’23, Zackary Mathis ’22, Vincent Moore, Jr. ’23, Skyler Hill ’24, Isabelle Schultz ’25 and Jordan Haack ’23 will leave for Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and will work multiple Super Bowl Experience events leading up to the game in roles that will include security, wayfinding, ticketing and parking.
Students will also go through game-day orientation on Saturday, Feb. 12, and will perform pregame and postgame duties on Super Bowl Sunday.
Polite and SU staff members Jacob Shaffer ’17, ’18, student leadership and development office manager; Stan Hodgin, offensive coordinator for Shenandoah’s football team; and Brian Lee ’21, career education and events coordinator, will also make the trip.
Recently, Polite and Malik Henry ’18, ’20, SU’s assistant director for first-year recruitment, took another group of students to the College Football Playoffs National Championship Game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama in Indianapolis. Shenandoah sport management students who made the trip included Amadou Tapsoba ’22, Mason Caldwell ’22, Sophia Young ’23 and Kiyah Stewart ’25. SU alum Jason Euman ’21, who is now a graduate student at the University of Alabama, also linked up with his fellow Hornets in Indy, and a staff member and two students from Covenant College in Georgia also joined the group.
During the trip, SU students supported and directed the Extra Yard 5K on Jan. 9, and on game day the following day, they served the media in various support roles in the press box and other areas throughout Lucas Oil Stadium. They also took tours of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NCAA headquarters.
Having the opportunity to attend and work the college football national championship in Indianapolis, Indiana, was not just an incredible hands-on learning experience, but an amazing trip overall that I will never forget. Not only did we receive unlimited networking opportunities, but we got the chance to see what goes into setting up such a large-scale event and to assist with the process, primarily in the media department, and saw a pretty historical game in the process.”
Sophia Young ’23, sport management and mass communications undergraduate student
Caldwell said that getting the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes at an event of that scale was “mind-blowing,” and that seeing Indiana Sports Corp. Director of Public Relations Brett Kramer in action was a valuable experience.
“Seeing Brett’s skills firsthand will be great for my future aspirations of working in football operations and working my way up into an office position,” Caldwell said.
Stewart also mentioned the networking opportunities that the trip to Indianapolis provided and the critical role those connections could play in the pursuit of a job after college.
Tapsoba said students rotated roles throughout the event and called the trip an “amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will cherish forever.”
“This trip was beneficial to me because it gave me the opportunity to be in a leadership role as far as planning, booking hotel rooms, creating itineraries, leading Zoom meetings, and communicating with team members, including Covenant College,” Tapsoba said. “It helped me develop my leadership experience because planning was a bit of a challenge, being my first time planning such a big event.”