Niagara University’s sports management program has given select juniors and seniors the opportunity to take part in a spring training excursion since 2006. This past March, four students traveled to Florida over spring break to work in various aspects of event operations for Major League Baseball games at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., and FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.
This year’s group--Abby Gibson, Marissa Shirmer, Greg Jubert, and Ryan Haynes– had a wide variety of options to choose from, including admission, security, game-day/on-field promotions, press box, statistics, working in the dugouts, and some on-field photography. They also were able to do outdoor activities while in Florida, such as tour professional sports facilities in Miami and the PGA national headquarters, go to the beach, and explore the cities nearby.
“Spring training offers more in-depth and varied experience, different from an internship, and creates networks for students for future jobs,” said Mike Gentile, associate professor and program coordinator of sport and recreation management. “It is a great opportunity to have this real-life experience outside of the classroom.”
This intensive but rewarding travel opportunity helped the students make great connections with experts in the field. These connections enabled Gibson, who will graduate in spring 2020, to start working at the Buffalo Bills training camp with the team.
“While I was working the Cassidy Cool Zone at Roger Dean, Professor Gentile introduced me to Chris Klee, who is a part of the Buffalo Bills training camp,” Gibson explained. “After returning to campus, I reached out to Chris to both thank him for the opportunity to work alongside him … (and) also to see what I needed to do to be a part of the Bills training camp. After sending in my resume, he offered me a job with the training camp that gave me the opportunity to continue learning different aspects of sport management.”
The sport management degree program at Niagara University prepares students for leadership positions in the increasingly competitive sport and recreation industry. Integrated throughout the curriculum is an emphasis on practical applications, globalization, leadership, and technological advances in sport management. Students will gain both an applied and theoretical understanding of the profession through a business-based core curriculum, a concentration of specialized sport management courses, and required, career-oriented practical experiences.