A week at Super Bowl LVII: 5 students get crash course in marketing at one of world’s biggest sporting events

Editor’s note: York College sent five of its Sport Management and Media students to Glendale, Arizona, last week to assist with duties related to the Super Bowl, It’s one of the few schools in the country that have this opportunity to gain real application experience by helping in the lead up fan-oriented activities to game day. The group included Julian Leon, Connor Haines, Christopher Walters, Charlie Dangler, Ashley Hudak and professor Donna Grove. Leon is also a member of The Spartan staff and put together this diary during the week. Here’s a link to the preview story that Leon wrote about the trip.

By Julian Leon

Day 1: Tuesday

TODAY was a day to figure out what the game plan is for the week and figure out what we’re gonna do in our spare time. We went out for dinner with former alumni Josh Hermann and Michael Leitz. Along with the DraftKing’s tax financial consultant we all sat down and talked about how to get into the industry and what works and doesn’t work, how to stand out from the competition, and how to make the most from your relationships.

Day 2: Wednesday

Wednesday was a day that we set up to go to the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium for an Uncommon Sports Group Networking event. UCG was the name of the organization that set this up for over 200 Sport Management students from all different colleges. For example, Arizona Christian University, Arizona State University, Niagara College, Grand Canyon University and the University of Tennessee were some of the schools in attendance. We had an opportunity to all sit down and listen to some extraordinary professionals within the sports industry including Amilyn Pierce (Davidson) – VP of Government Affairs, Arizona Diamondbacks; Dr. Stephanie Lovingood – Director of Activation, Phoenix Suns; Manny Colon, M.S. – Director of Minor League Operations, Oakland Athletics, and Josh Marriner -–Director of Player Engagement, Arizona Cardinals. They discussed their journey into the industry and provided some good insight into what employers look for and new applicants. Once this was complete we got a tour of the stadium and lastly sat down in what was considered a speed networking event. We sat down with a group of different students and talked about what we learned from the event, discussed what we wanted to do with our careers and connected. 

Heading to Phoenix on Monday, Feb. 6.

Day 3: Thursday

Thursday was our first NFL experience shift where we went over to Hance Park in Phoenix and worked as fan engagement staff for the Arizona Super Bowl host committee. The event had a live music concert along with various sponsored games involving football precision passing, PetSmart picture printouts, and more. Later that night we all had the opportunity to go take part in the NFL Experience as fans at the convention center in downtown Phoenix. It features an official NFL shop, various combine games such as the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical. On another level there was the Vince Lombardi Trophy, NFL rings and conference trophies, player signings and a fan draft experience. Lastly there were fun NFL games to play such as precision passing, field goal kicking and agility drills.

Day 4: Friday

Friday was an NFL training day. In our actual first day at the stadium we met the on-location staff and figured out our specific game-day jobs, the location of where it all takes place and our tasks. We were assigned the “On the Fifty” package event where the most exclusive guests will be in attendance with live music from Sheryl Crow. Once our training was complete we had the opportunity to go work at an offsite location for an Evening with a Legend party. During this event, Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Andre Reed were in attendance and fans who purchased these tickets got to meet him and enjoy the open bar and food.

Day 5: Saturday

This was considered our one free day but through a York college connection – Field Marketing Manager for Molson Coors Company Michael Lietz – we were able to go and watch the Waste Management Phoenix open with more 200,000 people in attendance we got to see some of the world’s best golfers go toe-to-toe with one another with a chance to secure a final spot in Sunday’s final round.

Day 6: Sunday

Sunday was a big day for us. We awoke at 4 a.m. to get to the stadium and prepare for the event and the “On The Fifty” package members we would be hosting. We were tasked with the hospitality of the event, making sure everyone knew where to find certain attractions, when special events would be taking place during the event and making sure everyone was happy throughout. Once this was done we had to shoot over to the offsite NFC post party hotel where we waited for the game to end and the team to return to greet them with celebration win or lose and similar to the “On the Fifty” event offer hospitality for the fans, family and friends of the team to enjoy all the amenities the hotel was offering.

State Fam Stadium, home of Super Bowl LVII. (Photo by Julian Leon)

Some quotes from the other staff members and professor about the trip:

Charlie Dangler, Class of 2024: My experience at the Super Bowl was a life-affirming opportunity for me. The Sports Management program provided myself and my peers a chance to live a snapshot of what our future may look like one day, what we are working so diligently to achieve through our practicum and internships. Being able to have a bird’s-eye view and ear to the professionals, teams and entire behind-the-scenes crew while being able to ask our professors questions has been invaluable life experience.

Professor Donna Grove: In all of our shifts we were exposed to professional athletes and top executives, and our students focused on the job at hand maintaining professionalism and composure in every situation.  They went above and beyond to ensure a well-executed job.  All of the supervisors were raving about our students’ performance.  I believe that their education has prepared them well to excel in any industry, but I am thrilled to say they chose the sport industry to pursue. I think it’s a great fit for each of them. It is my hope that they not only look back fondly at the experience but also embrace all they have learned and apply it immediately. 

Ashley Hudak, Class of 2023: It was important to realize how to differentiate being a fan and a sport professional. In this industry we are providing memories to customers trying to enjoy the experience so we have to carry ourselves in a professional manner to do our job.

Julian Leon is a senior majoring in Sport Media.

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