Nearly two dozen students who are members of Niagara University’s Sport Management Association traveled to New York City Nov. 15-17 to gain insight into the sport management industry. They were accompanied by Drs. Patrick Tutka and Cheryl Rode, assistant professors of sport and recreation management.

On Nov. 15, the students were able to take a tour of Madison Square Garden, the home of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers. Often known as “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” MSG traditionally ranks first or second in the nation when it comes to events held annually for a single venue. Afterward, the students were able to meet with 2011 NU alumnus Jonathan Smaldon, a senior account executive in group sales for the New York Jets, and ask questions about the industry. Smaldon previously spent the last five seasons with the Syracuse Crunch organization.

Jonathan Smaldon, '11, talks to current sport management students about what he

Jonathan Smaldon, '11, talks to current sport management students about what he has learned during his time as an administrator with the Syracuse Crunch and New York Jets.

“Overall, I thought this trip was a fun experience,” said Ryan Haynes, a Niagara junior majoring in sport management. “Everything that was encompassed in this trip was interesting and informative, and all of our speakers, including Jonathan, were very helpful. They were all able to answer the questions the group had for them and did a phenomenal job explaining what it takes to make it in the sport industry.”

The following day, the group took a tour of the New York Athletic Club, an exclusive opportunity as more Olympians train and come out of the facility than any other facility in the nation. From a learning standpoint, the opportunity was able to further broaden students’ horizons.

“The experience of seeing the New York Athletic Club from a behind-the-scenes perspective gave the students a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes,” said Dr. Rode. “Many sport management students focus on sport-related positions within collegiate or professional sports, but often forget of the myriad of positions available in parks and recreation management across the country and the world.”

Finally, the students traveled to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center, where they were able to engage with members of the New York Islanders sales team, courtesy of Steven Persaud, Niagara Class of 2016. For Haynes, this opportunity was a rewarding experience that proved to be insightful and enlightening.

Steven Persaud, '16, group sales account executive, speaks to NU students in the

Steven Persaud, '16, group sales account executive for the New York Islanders, speaks to NU students in the Barclays Center.

“The most beneficial part of the trip was the sales speaker panel at the Barclays Center,” said Haynes. “Each speaker on the panel organized where they came from and the steps they took to get where they are now, and they used good examples of what it takes to get yourself recognized.”

As for Dr. Rode, she hopes that the students used the opportunity to further develop business relationships with industry professionals.

“Networking is a big factor in any job, but even more so within sport – it is not just who you know, but who knows you,” Dr. Rode said. “Not only did our students learn about sales jobs within sport, they had an opportunity to make a new connection for their future job search and career.”

The students were then able to take in the sights and sounds of the arena as they watched the Islanders defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-4.

To be selected for the trip, the Niagara University students had to submit an application and resume before undergoing an interview process.

Niagara University’s Sport Management Association was formed in September 2014 and currently has over 40 members. The club endeavors to help all students with a passion for sport management engage in a variety of events, including networking opportunities, so that they can thrive upon graduation.

Article by Greg Jubert, a Niagara University junior studying sport management and communication studies. He is also a member of the Public Relations Student Society of Niagara.

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