Five students in the Organization and Administration of Sports class organized Southwestern Michigan College’s first Sports Management Day Dec. 6 for 40 students from Dowagiac, Covert, Bridgman and Lawrence.
Associate Professor Dr. Ritch Reynolds joined SMC in 2012, creating the program in 2015 as part of his doctoral dissertation. SMC was the first Michigan two-year school to offer sports management and has since been joined by Jackson Community College and Henry Ford Community College.
Nicole Maroney of New Buffalo, Nick Saltzman of Dowagiac, Austin Boone of Ann Arbor, Jack Hudak of Edwardsburg and Marvin Henderson of Benton Harbor planned activities, including videotaping commercials, e-sports club, ultimate volleyball with a giant ball and tours of the SMC Student Activity Center (SAC) on the Dowagiac campus.
Maroney compared this experience to organizing a Special Olympics basketball tournament for six teams from Cass, Berrien and Van Buren counties last Feb 23.
“A basketball tournament was pretty straightforward,” she said. “But with this we had to decide what format to use. How individualized the sports management program is definitely attracted me to SMC. You can run projects like this, make it your own and show what you can bring to the table.”
“There are so many different jobs you can have in the sports management industry,” Maroney said. “Teamwork is important. You never really work alone. Every person is important in this process. We all worked together the past couple of weeks to put on this event.”
Maroney’s role model is USA Today columnist and TV commentator Christine Brennan, author of Best Seat in the House. “She and I have kept in contact for a couple of years,” Maroney said. “Her book really inspired me. She’s the main reason I’m in the sports management field in the first place.”
Maroney volunteered with the Marshall County, Ind., Special Olympics during high school, while playing ice hockey, volleyball and softball for Culver Academies.
“I want to go into a non-profit like Special Olympics,” said Maroney, who plans to transfer to Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, where Special Olympics Michigan in November announced plans to build the world’s largest Special Olympics facility by renovating the former South Christian High School campus.
The future Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports and Inclusion Center will serve as a training facility for 22,000 athletes from 36 areas throughout the state. A 127,000-square-foot building has two gyms, a 735-seat auditorium and three sports fields on 17 acres. The facility will provide year-round programming, including Little League play, health and wellness services and youth athlete development.
Saltzman, who golfed for Bob Turner at Union High School, also likes SMC because of the “individualized” experience he’s getting. “At a bigger university, I would be like a needle in a haystack.”
Henderson, who played football and basketball and ran track, injured his knee senior year. While undergoing physical therapy, “I found a passion for helping people get better. I want to go into athletic training.”
Hudak majored in business before focusing on sports management. “Ultimately, I’m planning on transferring to Indiana University South Bend,” he said. “I want to go into athletic training or physical therapy. I blew out my knee in high school and needed surgery. I really liked my physical therapist.”
Boone attended Pioneer High School across from the University of Michigan “Big House” football stadium. “At first I wanted to coach basketball,” Boone said, “but as time goes on I’m thinking more of strength conditioning. I lift weights and have learned more about the body. I like basketball a lot more, but I played a lot more football.”
Boone hopes to transfer to Michigan State University next year to study kinesiology while minoring in sports management business.
Last semester students toured Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, taking in a Pistons game and enjoying a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how an NBA organization runs, from ticket sales to marketing.
SMC’s Associate in Applied Science Degree in Sports Management provides graduates with skills required for entry-level positions. Potential employment opportunities include facility and event management, sports and recreational programming, athletic coaching and sports media.