Samantha Bickel, left, and Kamille Watson, right, with the Pro Bowl trophy.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl game on Jan. 28 featured the best of the best players from across the league coming together in Miami to play a game. And promoting the event were some of Drexel University’s all-star graduate students in the online M.S. in Sport Management program within the Center for Sport Management.
Samantha Bickel, an online student currently in her sixth quarter in the two-year program, and Kamille Watson, an online student in her fourth term, spent two days volunteering at free fan activities promoting the Pro Bowl at Orlando’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. During this unique opportunity, the Dragons went behind the scenes to experience the business and promotional aspects of the sports industry, using the knowledge they gained through their Drexel classes to further their careers.
While in Florida, the students were given the opportunities to help with family-friendly events held in the days leading up to the big event — events like obstacle courses, a 40-yard dash along an LED screen and even opportunities to throw, kick and catch football after football. They ended up working at a sideline virtual reality experience stimulator, helping to prepare a short video for fans to view and feel like they were really at the game.
“The reactions the fans had while feeling as if they were on the field with NFL players were priceless!” Bickel said.
For Watson, the opportunity to work with this type of event was also fantastic.
“I have always been a huge fan of the NFL On Location company, which works along with Nomadic Entertainment group to pull off some pretty spectacular events surrounding the Super Bowl and beyond. This is a smaller scale version of those types of special events,” she said.
Watson hopes to use her degree to help grow events surrounding major sporting events (like, oh, the Pro Bowl), and she’s already taken a class called “Sport Information & Public Relations” that covered the importance of special events in building fans’ passion for sports franchises and leagues. Watson also blogged about the experience on The Hot Kommodity her branding and events service for local influencers in fashion and sports.
Bickel also jumped at the Pro Bowl opportunity — which wasn't directly for a class or job — based on how much there was to learn from the experience.
Kamille Watson, left, with Samantha Bickel, right, while in Florida volunteering with the Pro Bowl.
“I was most excited about seeing how this event was set up and how the business side of the event took place,” she said. “I focused on different aspects required to put on this kind of huge event, like the organization, signage, security, promotion and layout of the event.”
Being fans certainly didn’t hurt either, for both of the students. They had an extra day in Florida to take in the sights. Plus, it was a chance for them to spend more time together — the online students, both local, had met in a “Leadership in Sport Management” course this past summer, which required an on-campus portion for the program, and then went on to score internships in the same department at the University of Pennsylvania: the business development office at UPenn Athletics.
It was the first time at the Pro Bowl for both of them. They’d heard about the opportunity from Sarah Grogan, the assistant director of advising and operations in the Center for Sport Management.
“The department regularly receives notices about events, volunteer opportunities, part-time jobs, internships and full-time jobs that are related to the sport industry that our alumni, co-op employers and friends of the Center for Sport Management ask that we share with the 180 current undergraduate and graduate Sport Management students,” said Grogan. “I take these notices and compile them into a weekly email that I send to students every Thursday.”
The Pro Bowl opportunity was sent to Ellen Staurowsky, PhD, a professor in the department, who passed it on to Grogan, who passed it on to the students.
“Some of our students have an interest in event planning or the NFL or football, so this was a good way to expose them to and allow them to volunteer at a large-scale event,” said Grogan. “Sam and Kamille are both part of our online MS program, but they continually take advantage of the face-to-face opportunities in order to build their networks and get exposure to multiple areas of the industry.”