Current UConn Sport Management senior, Batouly Camara is featured in the Journal Inquirer for being an ‘upbeat teammate despite succession of injuries’.
The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university post-graduation or who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” series highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the Sport Management Program.
Eric Schneider, the current Assistant Athletic Director for the University of Connecticut’s Athletic Compliance Department, is a proud UConn Sport Management alumnus. Schneider, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management returned to Storrs in November of 2017 to work at his alma mater.
During his time as an undergraduate student at UConn, Schneider took full advantage of the Sport Management Program, both inside and outside of the classroom, which broadened his perspective on sports. His interest in NCAA rules and interpretations grew tremendously during this time. In the sport world, it’s important to look at the whole picture and know what goes on behind the scenes – from the individual player experience to the individual fan experience. Schneider says,
“Overall the Sport Management Program exposed me to all different levels of sports.”
Schneider believes that it is important to work with experts in all different levels of sports. He says that it allows for collaboration and is a way to see how the rules are interpreted differently.
After graduating from UConn, Schneider went on to earn a Master’s degree in Sport Management from Adelphi University, where he continued to gain valuable experience. He took on several coaching jobs, which he says he enjoyed as they gave him the opportunity to learn about sports from an NCAA and legal angle. He then completed a variety of impressive internships, and worked for the NCAA in its Academic and Membership Affairs division.
In the fall of 2017, Schneider returned to UConn because of the impactful role he felt the Sport Management Program had on his success. He credits the program for providing exposure and preparation for the professional world which helped him identify the trajectory of his career path.
In his position, he is responsible for answering questions when it comes to rule interpretations, so having an idea of the possible ways the rules can be (mis)interpreted allows him to not only give better answers, but to also improve the educational materials he provides to the athletic staff. Schneider expresses that he loves his job because of the many roles he has which include: ensuring that staff, coaches, and athletes are following NCAA rules and integrity, verifying eligibility standards for student-athletes, and creating educational materials to inform the athletic community about University rules and regulations.
Schneider’s advice to aspiring sport professionals is to focus on networking. Networking in the sport industry is crucial to being successful, he says, because it is the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities. Forming connections and building relationships with a broad network of people in the field is something that Schneider did as a student and is something he credits to where he is today.
“I learned that what you think is your best is not good enough. There’s always something you can do better, whether in a drill, in a game, or in life. You can practice harder, do it better, and accomplish more than you originally thought you could.” – SPM Alumna, Jamelle Elliott in UConn Today
The saying goes, “it’s all about who you know” and this fall, UConn’s Sport Management Program successfully facilitated an incredible night of networking with sport professionals, at their annual Career Night in Sport Event, for its fifth year.
Although the idea of networking comes hand-in-hand with any profession, the event strategically hosted 22 sport management program alumni including current graduate students, who are now working in the field as sport professionals. Through various breakout sessions in addition to the keynote speaker, alumna Jamelle Elliott, the event focused on diversifying the networking experience by exposing its students to recent graduates and current graduate students in the Sport Management program.
This year featured a new approach which included six break-out forums, in the following areas:
- Broadcasting and Journalism
- Finding a Career in Sport
- Graduation to Graduate School
- Navigating the Field
- Sport in Education and Community
- Women in Sport
Students were invited to participate in two forums that appealed to their professional interests. Allowing students to choose these sessions exposed them to working professionals who shared real life experiences, their roadblocks and lessons, while simultaneously connecting them with local alumni as a means to hone in on their networking skills.
Department of Educational Leadership’s Program Specialist, Danielle DeRosa alluded to these changes and how these forums made the night’s more intimate and informative.
“This year we decided to reformat the event and change the structure to reflect one that was used a few years back. This allowed students and alumni to interact with each other in smaller groups that more directly aligned expertise and interests. In looking at the event feedback, it seems like both students and alumni really enjoyed it!”
The event also included valuable lessons shared by Jamelle Elliot, UConn’s newly appointed Associate Athletic Director. Elliot spoke about the ups and downs that relate to sport stating,
“A career in sport is never guaranteed, but with a combination of hard work, dedication, and proper goal setting, you will get to where you want to be.”
It is events like these that help UConn’s students realize their true potential and further prepare them for a competitive industry. The program continues to strive to provide opportunities like this throughout the year and appreciates everyone who contributed in making this a successful event.
Please visit the Neag School of Education's Facebook page for photos from the event.
Associate Sport Management professor at Ithaca College, Dr. Rachel Madsen, had a very exciting opportunity this past February to travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea and volunteer at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Madsen, a 2010 graduate from the Sport Management and Women Studies doctoral programs, spent over two weeks in South Korea with 20 Ithaca College School of Business Sport Management students.
During her first ever Olympics, Madsen and her team worked specifically with the event operations department in seven different competition venues, interacting with fans, athletes and coaches to provide customer service.
She and three of her students volunteered in the skating rink that housed figure skating and short track speed skating. Because those are two of the most popular events in the Olympics, they are typically scheduled to air live during U.S. prime time, meaning very early mornings for Rachel and her team.
“Many days for us required waking up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 5:15 a.m. bus to the skating rink. From 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., we managed the fans and other visitors to ensure that everyone had a positive experience while also staying safe and not interfering with the athletes,” she said.
When asked about one of the greatest experiences that she had during her trip, Rachel said it’s too hard to narrow it down to just one.
“We often came face to face with famous athletes and other VIP’s, such as IOC members and the Today Show hosts. We were able to attend history-making events as fans, which was a dream come true. The Korean Olympic Committee often provided free tickets for volunteers to attend events, as long as the event wasn’t sold out,” she said. “Additionally, as Americans, we were often treated like celebrities by Korean fans and volunteers. Many Korean fans asked us where we were from and when we said New York, they often wanted to take pictures with us.”
Though Rachel spent only 17 days in South Korea, her students were lucky enough to spend five weeks assisting at the games. In doing so, they were able to take part in a monumental worldwide event and appreciate the importance of embracing culture and diversity.
“The students really learned what it takes to put on an event of this size. When watching the Olympics on TV, it’s impossible to understand the incredibly complicated logistics of organizing, training, transporting, housing, feeding and motivating 20,000 volunteers,” she said. “Being part of a large volunteer staff also enabled them to interact and become friends with other volunteers from all around the world.”
Written by: Dr. Joseph Cooper
On September 1, 2016, before the NFL regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers, Colin Kaepernick captured the nation’s attention by kneeling during the playing the of the national anthem as an act of protest against police brutality and social injustices in the United States (U.S.). Although, Kaepernick had chosen not to stand during the NFL pre-season games of the 2016-2017 season, the visibility of the nationally televised Thursday night game generated a broader national conversation on activism and sport. Since Kaepernick’s initial kneel, there ongoing debates and discussions about protests, patriotism, police brutality, politics, and power relations in the U.S. society. These conversations have occurred everywhere from mainstream news shows, internet blogs, coffee shops, late night comedy shows, sports shows, schools, barbershops and beauty salons, political speeches, town halls, and community spaces.
On October 18, 2017, the UConn campus community extended this dialogue by engaging in a formal conversation on the topic of “Race, Sport, and Activism.” This event was co-sponsored by the Collective Uplift student organization, UConn Athletics Department, and UConn Sport Management Program. The aim of the event was to facilitate a healthy discussion on how race, sport, and activism have been historically and contemporarily intertwined and contributed to positive social progress. Dr. Joseph Cooper, Assistant Professor in Sport Management, was the lead organizer and moderator for the event. According to Cooper, the event provided
“A much needed concerted space for the campus to focus on the ways in which sport and athletes use their respective platforms to communicate messages about broader social issues and ignite positive change in society.”
The panel began with an evocative video of a spoken word artist named Tariq Touré who delivered a powerful poem titled “For the Love the Game.” The poem provided illustrative descriptions of contested sporting spaces that reinforce damaging power relationships between White male economic elites (i.e., NFL owners) and Black male laborers (i.e., a majority of NFL players) , reflect persisting racial inequalities, and fosters an apolitical culture that suppresses Blacks’ engagement in political and social justice engagement. Following the video, Cooper highlighted the historical legacy of activism efforts through sport for race-related social justice causes. Within this description, different types of activism were presented including symbolic, scholarly/educational, grassroots, sport-based, economic, political, legal, media, and music and art. Each of the aforementioned types of activism have been utilized by Black athletes and institutions redress injustices in society. In addition, the historical overview connected sport activism dating back to the late 1800s to the most recent acts of activism in the 21st century.
Following the historical overview, three videos of Colin Kaepernick’s initial post-game explanation of why he chose to take a knee, President Trump’s recent comments about how he feels NFL owners should respond to players who choose not to stand for the anthem, and President Obama’s response to a military service member who inquired about his feelings about the NFL anthem protests were presented. After the videos, the six panelists were introduced. The six panelists included
- Deshon Foxx - current graduate student in the UConn Sport Management program, UConn alumnus (’14 in Sociology), former UConn football player (2010-2014)), and former NFL player (2014-2017)
- Angelo Pruitt - current Financial Advisor for Merrill Edge, UConn alumnus (’15 in Economics), and former UConn football player (2010-2015)
- Tyrae Sims - current undergraduate student in the UConn Sport Management program and former UConn football player (2013-2016)
- Kelli Thomas - current undergraduate student in Human Development and Family Studies and current track and field athlete (2013-present)
- Folorunso Fatukasi - UConn alumnus (’17 in Sociology) and current UConn football player (2013-present)
- Aaron Garland - current undergraduate student in Political Science and current UConn football player (2015-2017)
The panelists were asked questions regarding their perspectives on the videos of Kaepernick, President Trump, and President Obama as well as their thoughts on athletes engaging in activism and specific recommendations that felt would contribute to positive change in society.
Pruitt emphasized how his heightened social consciousness during the latter stages of and following his athletic career influenced his perceptions of activism through sport. He said
“Your sport is what you play. It is not who you are.”
In his opinion, although he did not engage in activism during his playing career, if he could go back knowing what he knows now he would encourage more activism among current athletes. Foxx reflected on his NFL career when he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks immediately following Kaepernick’s activism. He described how he and his teammates agreed locking arms as a team would send a powerful message about unity while expressing support for Kaepernick. He also highlighted the real fear that comes with a lack of job security as a professional athlete when considering to engage in activism. However, he explained how his increased social consciousness throughout his playing career has motivated him to encourage athletes using their platform to foster positive change in society.
Sims expressed the need for athletes challenge power systems that suppress their authentic identities. He explained how athletes are not disconnected from social injustices occurring in the broader society and being educated on these issues is an important first step. Specifically, he referenced how in his hometown community, police brutality and other offenses were not uncommon and thus athletes like himself who are closely connected to these issues feel more compelled to speak out and do anything they can to address these issues. Thomas provided an important lens as a Black woman athlete and described how often times she feels she does not have the same influence as her same race male counterparts in more high profile sports (football and basketball). She explained the importance of athletes using a range of platforms to challenge social injustice outside of sport.
Fatukasi offered an insightful perspective on being a current college athlete and the legitimate fears associated with engaging in activism. Similar to Foxx, Fatukasi has NFL aspirations and said engaging in activism as a current player could hinder his chances of achieving his professional goals. He also emphasized the importance of athletes’ developing themselves holistically and accessing support systems to assist them with balancing difficult decisions about how to promote social change while minimizing the adverse impact on their sport aspirations. Garland expressed the power of collective efforts when seeking to address social injustices. He described how pursuing these efforts alone can be challenging and gaining the support and involvement of an entire team or a group of people is a way to achieve more impactful change. The panel concluded with Q&A from the audience.
The event was well-attended with over 60 attendees and media coverage from CTN and university based media outlets. Cooper said he hopes this is event serves as
“One more step forward within a larger legacy of social justice efforts to create more reflection, education, empowerment, and action that leads to positive changes in our society.”
For those who attended this event and heard from the panelists, it is clear this message resonated loud and clear.
Connecticut Network covered the full discussion, click here to listen in.
EDLR’s Collective Uplift and Sport Management Program hosted successful Race, Sport, and Activism Panel as covered by The Daily Campus.