Southwestern Michigan College’s sports management program Saturday, Feb. 11, hosts the inaugural SMC Invitational—Michigan Special Olympics basketball from 9 a.m. until noon in the Charles O. Zollar Building gymnasium on the Dowagiac campus.
Operational oversight for four competing Cass County teams provides lab experience for nine organization/administration students and 14 introduction to coaching students who learn officiating and scorekeeping.
The event grew out of a conversation Physical Education Professor Ritch Reynolds had with Nick Caudle, a Special Olympics regional official for southwest Michigan.
“It’s a chance for students to learn the fundamentals of event management,” Reynolds said. “They’re going to rotate so everybody gets a chance to be on the floor officiating, keeping score and running the clock because somewhere down the line somebody is not going to show up and you need experience refereeing games.”
“If you went to work for the K Wings or South Bend Cubs,” he said, “you’re not going to have a hand in the game, per se, but you’re going to have a hand in creating the experience.”
After the four teams play each other, Reynolds invited Director of Choral Activities David Carew’s students to provide a halftime show highlighting the Feb. 23-26 musical “Chicago” or their spring concerts.
After the break, play concludes between the two teams which lost and the two teams which won.
For a homework assignment post-Feb. 11, students will be sent to evaluate a local high school basketball game by “looking at it differently than you did as a player and think risk management, crowd control, did the teams have water, was the cash box well-attended by ticket-takers, do you see any issues or problems? I need future coaches to see officiating from the person’s perspective who’s enforcing rules so you understand why they’re doing it this way.”
“I’d like to do this again in the fall,” Reynolds said, “and see if we can get Dr. (Jon) Korzun to come in and do a pep band. For me it’s all about building atmosphere by showcasing SMC’s wonderful programs and talented students and faculty and make this a truly huge event for these athletes and their families.”
Fall semester the program organized a Saturday field trip to iFly, an indoor-skydiving facility in Naperville. Two of the 11 who went to Illinois won free seats in skill-level races up the Student Activity Center rock-climbing wall.
For Campus Bash the program provided bubble-ball soccer, which for spectators is like watching sumo wrestling as players carom off each other.
“One of my students worked at a facility that had bubble-ball soccer,” Reynolds said. “He negotiated to borrow it at no charge, so he got experience doing that, including making sure we had the right liability waivers. At the same time we had our banner out promoting our student club. Last year we went to an Indiana Pacers game and toured the facility. Their ticket sales rep actually coached against Dowagiac. He gave up his teaching career and is in ticket sales for the Pacers” of the National Basketball Association.
In late March or early April, Reynolds accompanies sports management students to tour the University of Notre Dame through a women’s softball connection.
Sports Management Club augments classes by bringing in speakers and creating community service opportunities.
Speakers have included former National Football League referee Ron Winter; Ron Welch, who coached women’s basketball at Kalamazoo Valley Community College; Student Activity Center Manager Bill Roggeman, a former football coach; SMC Development Director Eileen Toney on fundraising; and NCAA referee Amanda Bender.
Last year volunteers helped the new owner of a fitness facility spring clean and staffed the Turkey Trot.
“I have a dual-enrolled Edwardsburg student who wants to do analytics, which is a rapidly-growing field,” Reynolds said. “There’s an internship with the Detroit Tigers he’s very interested in applying for, so he’s keeping an eye on what they expect and gearing up. Analytics is for more than the four major sports. You’ve also got tennis and golf. You could do an analytics component working in collaboration with a statistics class.”
SMC, Michigan’s first community college to offer an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in sports management in 2015, has since been joined by Jackson College and Henry Ford College in Dearborn, which offers fitness and sports center management.