Story by Randy Sarvis, director of public relations
WILMINGTON, Ohio - Unlike the Bengals, Steelers, Vikings and 27 other NFL teams, 18 Wilmington College students are going to the Super Bowl.
These sport management students and their professor, Dr. Alan Ledford, flew to Minneapolis today (Jan. 30) to spend the next six days working at America's biggest sporting event — make that event, period.
As volunteers, they will serve as ambassadors, greeters and customer service staff in assisting the thousands of guests attending a myriad of events and activities associated with "The NFL Experience" during Super Bowl week. They also will work Game Day and hope to be able to actually watch the featured event: the New England Patriots versus Philadelphia Eagles.
"Our students will experience Super Bowl Week and Game Day from behind the scenes to learn the in and outs of the business of hosting a mega-event — they will gain a hands-on understanding of what it takes to plan, organize and execute a true sporting event behemoth," said Ledford, WC's sport management program director.
"The students also will be interviewing, meeting and learning from top people in the sports business world," Ledford added, noting this experience should have positive ramifications as they engage in interviewing for internships and career employment.
Indeed, Eric Wathen, a junior from Miamisburg majoring in sport management and business administration, is returning to the Super Bowl after enjoying — and benefitting from — the experience in Houston last February. He credits last year's involvement with helping him land both an internship and job with Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.
"It's a fantastic opportunity that helped me stand out when I applied with the Columbus Crew," he said, noting he spoke about the experience in a successful interview for an internship he held last year, which led to a job with the team he'll be starting next month.
"We talked about my Super Bowl experience for 15 minutes during the job interview," he added, noting he will work Tuesdays, Thursday and game days throughout the semester and full time this summer. "It helped set me apart from the other applicants and led to talking about other experiences I've had at WC."
Indeed, sport management students have toured and met with officials at the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium; Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds; Fifth-Third Field, home of the minor league's Dayton Dragons; The Columbus Crew's Malpre Stadium; and athletics facilities throughout The Ohio State University. Also, they've staged events on campus.
"Alan is all about students getting experience in sport management, getting their hands dirty," said Tyler Brummett, a senior from West Union. "Employers want to know what you can do and what you've done."
Brandon Williams is a December graduate from Dayton who is on the trip again this year. Planning to go onto graduate school, he called the Super Bowl experience "a dream, a blessing."
"When I came to Wilmington, I wanted to get involved on campus, but I never dreamed I'd have opportunities like this," he said, noting last year's Super Bowl trip "gave me direction for what I want to do professionally."
Another repeat participant this year is Sarah Pierce, a junior sport management major from New Carlisle.
"It's definitely shaped my College experience. To see the career development opportunities we get here at Wilmington College makes me believe I have a bright future in sport management," she said in expressing her interest in event management. "I used to think the Super Bowl and these other big events were just games. Now I have a greater appreciation for what goes into putting on events — especially large events."
As Brummett said, "It doesn't get any bigger than the Super Bowl!"
Other students on the Super Bowl trip are: Cameron Erwin, Nick Hauser, Noah Finley, Benjamin Guthrie, Tyler Hart, Hannah Houston, Josiah Johnson, Konnor Kinser, Cody Martin, Adam Knaub, Joshuah Miller, Darrin Milligan, Brooke Shinkle and Sydney Smith.