Sports Management Class Partners with IronPigs for
National Championship Game
As the crowd of 9,000-plus fans settled into their seats to watch the 2013 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, hosted by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park on Sept. 17, many in attendance likely couldn’t name the three teams in action.
Of course, the two championship finalists, the Omaha Storm Chasers and Durham Bulls, were obvious choices. The third team, the IronPigs game day staff, is not as well known, but equally important to the contest’s outcome. Helping the staff facilitate the game day experience that evening were 30 students enrolled in Moravian College’s “Mindfulness and Flow in Sport Organizations” course, offered by Katie P. Desiderio, assistant professor of management. (For photographs of the students working with the IronPigs, click here.)
The inaugural course of the sports management track in the College’s Management major prepares students for careers within the sports management field and the broader business world, and what better way to learn about sports than working behind the scenes. Students manned a variety of posts throughout the stadium, working in concession and merchandise stands, handling social media promotions, distributing programs and promotional materials, and assisting in the children’s activity section.
What Danielle Brogan ’14, who served as a caterer in the dugout suites, noticed while working was the camaraderie and teamwork that plays out off the field. “This experience really opened my eyes,” she said. “As a member of the staff, you have to be able to jump into different positions and different jobs. You can see that the staff really works well together and there is a sense of family.”
Desiderio initiated the partnership with the IronPigs to provide students with an opportunity to experience the challenges that face the game day staff when accommodating nearly 10,000 patrons and players. Essentially, it was a one-day internship to see if the work environment suits their career aspirations.
“It’s an environment where everyone does a little of everything,” Desiderio said. “You aren’t just a media person or selling tickets; you come together and get the job done for the broader purpose. That’s an interesting dynamic. Some students are not OK with somewhat undefined roles, while others really thrive and enjoy it.”
This theme of “all hand on deck” played out through the game, with students and staff jumping in to lend support where it was needed. This included everything from prepping the field after the Clydesdale promotion to racing behind the counter to address a crowded concession stand.
“I never realized how much the staff has to do at a game,” added Eric Schultz ’14, who volunteered in the merchandise store, among other assignments. “We were constantly busy, but it made the evening go extremely fast because we were switching from job to job.”
ABOVE: Frank Leon '14 surveys the concession stands during the 2013 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game.
ABOVE: Frank Butash '14 (left) and Nick Hastings '15 were among the 30 Moravian students volunteering Sept. 17.
Desiderio explained that for first half of her “Mindfulness and Flow in Sport Organizations” course, she concentrated on setting the foundation of what is sports management, helping students to understand the business operations – how funding works, the role of volunteers, utilizing strategic management, etc.
In the latter half of the semester, the class will immerse itself in the idea of mindfulness and flow, a highly coveted yet elusive state of mind that is often characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand. While it certainly applies to athletics, it also translates to job performance. “It happens so naturally in the sports industry, especially for those employees working on sports teams,” Desiderio said. “It’s the idea that we’re a team and we all come together because we’re mindful of the bigger picture, so we’ll will jump in wherever we’re needed. Everyone is a utility player.”
The College’s partnership with the IronPigs will continue later this fall as students are conducting a semester-long market research project, researching minor league affiliates the Lehigh Valley organization has identified as consistently drawing strong attendance figures. Students will then propose a promotional calendar to the IronPigs staff on their findings.
Gaining a better sense for sports and sports management was exactly why Brogan, a member of the College’s women’s basketball team, enrolled in the popular course – during the enrollment window, it closed in just two hours. “I have been playing sports all of my life, and it has really been a big part of my life, so to see the background of professional sports and how the businesses work was a really great opportunity,” she says.
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