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Sport Management Cultural Connection

The Sport Management Cultural Connection is a celebration of sport management professionals and their success and diversity in the sport industry. These particular individuals have a special relationship with MSU Denver sport management, whether that be alumni, internship coordinators, faculty, etc., and believe in the program's hands-on, academic, real-world approach. The Cultural Connection is updated monthly via the MSU Denver Sport Management website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and LinkedIn page. If you would like to be featured for MSU Denver's Cultural Connection initative, please email Dr. Kelly Evans


Brad Birling

Merchandise Warehouse Coordinator, USATF

 How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career? 

The Sport Management program at MSU Denver prepared me for my career by offering coursework directly related to the types of work required for sports professionals. The curriculum, classes, and projects are crafted to mimic the kinds of issues sports professionals regularly have to evaluate and resolve in the industry. 

What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school?

My proudest accomplishment while at MSU Denver was taking the educational tools and knowledge that I acquired and applying them to my internship with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, allowing me to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating? 

Since graduating, I have been able to take all of my experience and work with USA Track & Field to contribute to and expand the organization's merchandise and retail operations. I have been able to travel around the country to several events and help connect fans to the sport both at events and through our online marketing efforts. 

How has the pandemic effecte the sport management industry from your perspective?

The pandemic forced us to completely change our thinking in how to keep our members and fans engaged. However, it created an opportunity to connect with people by offering virtual races and competitions to keep people engaged and create value for both members, fans, and sponsors. Our department relies heavily on sales at events, so we had to focus more on our e-commerce business over the last year since we canceled most championship events and Track & Field Trials. Overall, I think many sports properties realized the value and importance of connecting with people digitally and in person.

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

My advice for current MSU Denver students is to approach coursework as if you're already a sports professional. The projects and assignments are meant to replicate real-world experiences and issues, and professors are there to help you and want you to succeed. Also, be curious about other aspects of the industry. As cliché as it sounds, sports professionals wear many different hats in many organizations and need to be able to tackle a variety of problems and work with various departments. Lastly, take advantage of experiential learning and study abroad opportunities if you can. Learning from others that actively work in the industry is essential in creating valuable connections outside of education.

 

Connect with Brad Birling via LinkedIn!


 


James Lewis

Promotions Team Member, Colorado Avalanche & Colorado Mammoth (Kroenke Sports and Entertainment)

 How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career? 

The MSU Denver Sport Management program prepared me for my career in multiple different ways. First and foremost, through the program I was able to develop a great understanding of all of the different but essential roles and branches that contribute toward the overall success of different kinds of sport organizations. I can't even count the number of times that I benefitted within the professional hemisphere due to my understanding of organizational structure and which problems or tasks are to be handled by certain departments. 

Additionally, aside from the functional knowledge that I developed, the most effective benefit that I took from the department was my transition from educational experience to professional experience. So many professors and faculty such as (but not limited to) Troy Morgan, Nicole Furuiye, and Dr. Colleen Colles were always more than willing to take time out of their busy days to sit with me and give me guidance on how to land internships, and how to conduct myself when approaching the professional world. I am extremely grateful for that. Prior to switching my major to Sport Management, I felt like I was on my own and never understood the significance of volunteering for opportunities and actively pursuing experience. I credit the Sport Management faculty for the strength of my resume today. 

What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school?

My proudest accomplishment while I was in school was NOT leaving my last final exams, but specifically GOING INTO my last final exams. I specifically remember being incredibly proud the weekend before finals week of my last semester because it was the first time that I had complete confidence in my future. With this field of study, I found so much sincere enjoyment in the content and had a passion for the work, that preparation was just implied nature. Therefore, when approaching my last finals week, I knew that I had the information and willingness to execute because of the fact that I was fully invested for the entire time.

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating? 

Although I have had many proud moments and great experiences since graduating, I would have to say that my proudest moment so far has been when I got the call from the Game Presentation department of the Colorado Avalanche offering me a position. In hindsight, that call opened the door for so many things both professionally, and in my personal life. This has been the greatest, most fun, and most fulfilling job I have ever worked and it is work that I find myself constantly craving and missing on my days off. It is an amazing role, and it is just the beginning so I can't wait to see where I grow into from here! 

How has the pandemic effecte the sport management industry from your perspective?

This pandemic has affected so many things within the sport industry that it is difficult to put into words. I am saddened by the amount of people that have had to leave their roles within the sport industry to pursue different professions. Although I know it will eventually return, these events have lifelong implications on the careers of individuals. As a young person that has not been in the industry for as long as others, it was initially discouraging that the timing of my emergence in the industry was put on pause. However, when connecting with other professionals and seeing their stories, I am confident that this provides opportunity to those who are fortunate enough to stay involved. Although this time with the lack of full fan attendance provides less work responsibility, it does provide more time to pursue further education which I have done. This pandemic has the opportunity for all of us to adapt and innovate, not only within the sport industry but also for ourselves and our own development. There is always room to improve, and this will strengthen our approach toward many different elements moving forward.

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

COMMITMENT! Commitment is the only thing that is needed to gain experience. As cliche as that sounds, it couldn't be more relevant and true. Your degree and education will put you in the door for some interviews, and your professional experience will take even further. Applying for postings is great, but you can always reach out to people (LinkedIn or emails from staff directories) and offer your help. During my time within the program, I did three different internships and also volunteered for Pro-Camps and events. Even within my current role, my supervisors and other people in charge take a massive liking towards people that show their commitment towards doing anything and everything they possibly can to help, and that sort of environment rewards people for that. Having been out of college for a while, I can accurately say that about 90% of my interviews included people asking me about cool experiences I had even though they were unpaid internships. We in the sport industry are fortunate to be in a field that interests people. Use that. Take advantage of it. I remember balancing school, unpaid internships, and work and getting about 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night. I promise it's worth it. Stay committed even after accomplishing what you want. It pays off!

 

Connect with James Lewis via LinkedIn!


 


Erica Johnson

MSU Denver Sport Management Alumni (2020)

 

How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career? 

The MSU-Denver Sport Management program gave me the tools and knowledge to succeed in a career in sport. I left well-rounded with knowledge in many different aspects from promotions, to financial planning and issues, to venue management. All of our professors bring their wide array of experience and a "you can do anything you set your mind to" attitude.

What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school?

My proudest accomplishment while in school was being asked to be the student coordinator for the Women in Sport Management event. I learned so much from this opportunity and gained confidence in myself. Also, the opportunity to be the President of the Sport Management Club amd take a group of eager students to New Orleans for a conference was an honor.

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating? 

Since graduating, I have networked with numerous professionals in our industry. I was able to interview for and obtain an internship with USA Triathlon through my connections with USA Football. I also have began a master's program at ASU in Sport Law and Business.

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

My advice is to take in every moment! Get to know your peers and professors, volunteer for an opportunity you'd usually avoid, be involved in the club, study abroad if possible; just put yourself out there and be confident! Us alumni are always here to support you.

 

Connect with Erica Johnson via LinkedIn!


 


Amanda Kubec

Co-Owner & President, Mile High Collegiate Baseball League

 

How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career? 

The MSU Denver Sport Management program prepared me for my career in multiple ways, but most importantly it was taking advantage of the “real-world” experiences. This program is very fortunate to be located in the heart of Denver, so we had numerous opportunities to attend workshops at Pepsi Center with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. The professors and staff within the Sport Management program often created assignments and projects working with actual leagues, teams, and industry professionals which not only motivated me as a student to put forth my best effort but also showed that the work we were doing helped businesses in the sport industry.

Specifically, I loved the social media projects we did working with local sport businesses and the project we did mitigating risk for a sport venue in my Sport Government class. Each professor has real world experience working in the sport industry and were all able to contribute to the reality of working in sports which was incredibly helpful. I also feel like the program is incredibly supportive of their students, constantly providing resources for us and connecting us with the right people in the industry to serve as mentors.

 

What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school?

While in school, my proudest accomplishment was taking the leap to commit to the Sport Management Program. After switching my major three times and taking the intro to sports class I finally realized what industry I belonged in. I had no idea what opportunities would be waiting for me or what working in the sport industry would entail but I was excited to complete the program. Knowing I could combine my love for sports with my passion for developing systems and processes for businesses, I was incredibly happy to pursue my degree with the sport management program. 

 

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating? 

Since graduating, my proudest accomplishment would be becoming the owner of the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League; a summer development league in Colorado. I got involved with the league after interning with them my senior year. I then stayed with the league the following summer helping out however I could, and before my third season I was offered ownership to be the President.

I truly think the reason I was blessed with this opportunity is because I put in so much effort into my time as an intern. Whether it was field work, running the scoreboard, planning the all-star game or figuring out the website, I put in 100% all the time. Luckily it didn’t go unnoticed and when the current owners were ready to take a step back, I was still involved and had learned the intricate details that go into running a successful summer baseball league.

 

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

The best advice I can give is you never know who or what will lead you to your future career or opportunity. I had no idea that becoming owner of the MHCBL was a possibility; especially just three years after I began an internship with them. It is very important to always be showing your best work as you never know who may be in need of your skills and expertise. The sport industry is a large industry, but a small network. There were often times that the industry professionals I knew were very involved in multiple teams, leagues, or business ventures. I learned quickly that if you had a good relationship with someone they would help connect you with someone they knew to support your career and goals.

Which shows again how important it is to always be prepared to meet business professionals as you never know who they may introduce you to and where those opportunities can lead. It is also important to note that hard work does not go unnoticed in the sport industry; when I hire interns for the league I value those who are willing to go the extra mile and always offering to help. It can be a very physically demanding job with long hours but the reward of being able to work in an industry with the excitement and competitiveness of sports is an incredible opportunity!

 

Connect with Amanda Kubec via LinkedIn!


 


Amy Wagner

Owner, Wagner Sports Marketing

How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career? 

MSU Denver helps you realize that there are so many paths and avenues you can take after you get your degree. The different courses that the [Sport Management] program offers along with other specialities at Metro, you can navigate and customize your specialties to get a job you you will enjoy and succeed at. 

What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school?

When I was in school my proudest moment was when I was in the marketing & selling class. Our assignment was to sell the most avalanche tickets, I sold the most out of all the classes that semester. I found that really enjoyed selling and that I was very good at it. It opened so many doors and avenues that I didn’t know existed before. 

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating? 

When I worked with Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) I was able to find my true passion in selling autographed Memorobilia and working with former and current players. I left MLBPAA as a Director of Sales and Player Relations, I found that when you love what you do it’s not a job but a career. I was also able to offer internships to up and coming [Sport Management] Majors. This also gave me the platform and contacts to start my own business doing something I love. 

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

Find different avenues and make connections while you are in college. Build relationships with people because you never know when they can help you or when you will be able to help them. Last find your passion, work hard, but remember a job is a job and they will come and go, so make time for things that are important in your life!

 

Connect with Amy Wagner via LinkedIn!


 


Chip Baker

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Podcaster; Creator of Chip Baker - Character Development Program; MSU Denver Internship Supervisor

Q: How did your background and education prepare you for your career?

I am a fourth generation educator. My family consists of church folks and educators. I learned very early in my life that it was important to give service to others. I also played lots of sports growing up and then played college football. All of those experiences has allowed me to be able to hopefully give to others what the people I have been raised by gave to me. The confidence to know that anything is possible if you work hard, do right, treat people right and give service.

Q: What has been your proudest career accomplishment? 

I have been blessed to achieve some really neat things. I was named Teacher of The Year twice on my campus and have received a few other accolades. The biggest accomplishments for me come from the fulfillment side of things. It gives me great pleasure to know that by what I have experienced, I can take the lessons I have learned and use those to help others move more efficiently and effectively in their life. That is what makes me proud.

How have you had to pivot from a professional standpoint during COVID-19? 

I always feel that it is important to find ways to create in crisis. Covid has definitely been a crisis for many. What I have chosen to do is control what I can control. I have worked very hard at getting better on some things that I have always wanted to learn and felt that I typically never had time for. It has been a time of growth and reflection for me. Professionally the time during Covid has been good for me. 

What role does mentoring play when supervising interns?

Mentoring is huge! We all can learn from one another. Nothing (No Thing) is wasted. So every experience we have can be used to help others when we are aware of the blessings in the lessons. This allows us to make a positive difference in the lives of those that we mentor.

What advice do you have for current MSU Denver sport management students?

3 Things-
1. Don’t limit yourself, you are capable of achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. If you limit yourself, you limit yourself!
2. It is possible for you to do big things….if you are willing to put in the work to make it happen. The possibilities are possible!
3. Opportunities bring opportunities! Be present, be in the moment and enjoy every opportunity that you are blessed to have. How you do in THIS moment determines the opportunities you will have down the road.

Live. Learn. Serve. Inspire. Go Get It!

Connect with Chip below!
Facebook & Instagram: @chipbakertsc
Twitter: @chipbaker19
YouTube: youtube.com/c/ChipBakerTheSuccessChronicles


 

 


Lorenzo Rodriguez

Esport Team Owner and Social Media Content Creator

Q: How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career?

LR: The MSU Denver Sport Management program allowed me to embrace the field of sports in so many different and creative ways. Denver truly is an underground sports town that MSU Denver puts you in the frontlines to truly grow as a person and industry professional. The program puts you in situations that takes you out of your comfort zone to truly make you a better sport manager in whatever route you take! 

Q: What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school? 

LR: My proudest accomplishment while I was in school was coming in a young professional and leaving as an improved version of myself both on and off the field. I felt like I was prepared to tackle anything life and the professional world would throw at me, and that was something that MSU staff encouraged.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating?

LR: My proudest accomplishment since graduating was starting my own esports organization and develop my own content creation brand such as streaming on Twitch.tv/LORDENZO. Through the experiences at MSU, I was able to translate my sporting industry skills and directly translate them in esports. I have been extremely marketable for esports brands such as the global powerhouse 100 Thieves. Having a traditional Sport Management background allowed me to outshine the competition by showing esports companies that I validated them and found them credible. My passion is fashion, esports and content creation and the sport management skills I’ve used and learned at MSU Denver are second to none taking me to new heights.

Q: What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

LR: The advice I have for Sport Management students is to enjoy everyday as if it were your last. Make the best out of the good and the bad and find ways to use it as your advantage. Don’t count time, make time count. Your college years will be finished before you know it so network with your classmates and teachers. Be kind! The program is a very tight-knit family and being personal with your professors and peers will take you to the next level. Your alumni, such as myself, are also ready to help and be there whenever you need! Feel free to connect with me as well!

Connect with Lorenzo on any of the following sites:
Twitch: twitch.tv/LORDENZO
YouTube: bit.ly/39hgAof
Instagram: @lordenzo96
TikTok: @lordenzo96
Twitter: 
@lordenzo96


 


Craig Tomson

Manager of Business Development for Beaver Sports Properties at Oregon State University

Q: How did the MSU Denver Sport Management program prepare you for your career?

CT: The MSU Denver Sport Management program was able to prepare me for my career in sports, by teaching collaboration, dedication, and the ability to be flexible. In a sports career you never know if you will be working in ticketing, sponsorship or marketing and the MSU Denver Sport Management program made it an easy transition into a fast-paced career.

Q: What was your proudest accomplishment while you were in school? 

CT: My proudest accomplishment while I was in school, was completing my Sports Management degree with honors my final year while working full-time for a sports organization.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating?

CT: My proudest accomplishment since graduating was, being part of the Portland Thorns NWSL team. Being part of the team that built a nationally recognized Women’s soccer team, selling out games of over 21,000 people, while being broadcast on National Television and creating a platform where children dreamed of becoming Women’s soccer stars…that is my proudest accomplishment.

Q: What advice do you have for current MSU Denver Sport Management students?

CT: My biggest piece of advice would be to dive into sports business with the same passion you have for sports. Sports teams already have fans, what they really need are Sports Management professionals who know the business more than they know the game

Connect with Craig Tomson on LinkedIn (@cragctomson)


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