With the NFL season underway, Superbowl LVI, which will take place Feb. 13, 2022, is quickly approaching. For 12 students in the Ithaca College Department of Sport Management, it is a date that they have circled on their calendars because they will attend the event to work and gain sport managerial experience.
For the Super Bowl, the selected students will help staff the NFL House, the highest level of VIP hospitality for sponsors, players and owners. They will also be working on field level from 3 p.m. to midnight monitoring credentialing access and media control, where they will be checking to validate someone’s access to certain areas throughout the stadium. The students will leave Feb. 8 and return Feb. 15. This year, the trip is funded by the School of Business, alumni donations and funds students will pay to subsidize travel and hotel stays.
Seniors Dania Bogdanovic, Jordan DeSilva, Ian Citrin, juniors Jacqueline Leone, Shane Curry, Jennifer Pitts, Keegan Santasiere, Justin Houston, Samuel Plvan Tolu Sosan, and sophomores Noah Kamens and David Toplitsky will be accompanied by Annemarie Farrell, associate professor and chair of the sport management department.
The college’s sport management department strongly emphasizes the importance of experiential education, encouraging students to gain as much hands-on experience in their major as possible while still learning the classroom curriculum. The program has led to students creating connections and relationships with organizations like the NFL, the NCAA and the Olympics.
Students can apply, regardless of their class year, at any point during their time at the college. Students send in applications, resumes and cover letters to three sport management faculty members, Farrell, Wonyul Bae and Rachel Madsen, associate professors in the Department of Sport Management, because they choose who they feel are best suited to represent the program.
Some of the previous events that students attended and worked at include Men’s and Women’s NCAA Final Four, Olympic games and the Super Bowl. Farrell said the college received an invitation to attend Super Bowl LV in February 2021, but was not able to attend due to safety concerns and insufficient funding caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, however, the two-year wait comes to an end as 12 students will have the opportunity to work at Super Bowl LVI.
Leone said she hopes to gain more experience in event operations as she plans to pursue a career in this field once she earns her degree.
“My interest in event operations and management is what drove me to apply [to work the event],” Leone said. “Other students who have went previously say it is a great experience and one that every student who is interested should apply for.”
Leone said she is appreciative that the college is giving her the chance to work at one of the biggest sporting events in the United States.
“I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity that would not be possible without Ithaca College’s Sport Management department,” she said.
Curry is away from the college this semester working in game operations for Duke University volleyball in Durham, North Carolina. However, during his first two years at Ithaca College, he said he gathered plenty of experience to earn a spot to work at the event next February. In his freshman year, he applied and was accepted to work at the NCAA Final Four. He accepted that opportunity, but could not attend due to the pandemic. Now, with the Super Bowl on the horizon, he said he is excited to be able to take advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime,” Curry said.
He said all of his classes in the sport management department have prepared him for this opportunity.
“I can’t really point to one specific class,” Curry said. “The culture that they’ve created in the sport management program is one of such hard work, dedication and grit. The big thing that’s ingrained is like the ‘Ithaca grit.’ That kind of mentality has helped me so much already through everything that I’m doing.”
He also acknowledged the extent that the professors would go to help their students succeed.
“The professors all give us a really good understanding of the importance of what we’re doing,” Curry said. “Also, how hard we have to work day-in and day-out to maintain that level of recognition that Ithaca College students have, it’s really the culture more so than the classes that have really helped mold my mentality and the mentality of a lot of Ithaca College students.”
Farrell highlighted how competitive the application process is. Farrell said she, Bae and Madsen look for students who have taken prior initiative to gain event management experience and have shown maturity in similar situations.
“We are at the front door of the NFL,” Farrell said. “There is a high level of expectation to be in these types of environments. Students like Jackie and Shane are students that know what hospitality is about. Every year the students do such a great job that they say ‘how many more students can you bring?’”
Farrell also mentioned what this experience does for the students’ confidence for applying to work in the field of sport management.
“It shows them how close they actually are,” Farrell said. “I think students come in and think ‘I really wanna work in sport and it’s so far away.’ They enter in September and five months later they are standing outside of the San Francisco 49ers locker room working credentialing access.”