This year’s NCAA Final Four featured four days of fans, interactive themed activities, and our very own “Point Guards”—School of Kinesiology students enrolled in Event Management in Sport (KIN 5115) who led the “Street Team Volunteers” throughout the event. This course, taught by lecturer Vicki Schull, PhD, provides students with the skills to plan and facilitate large-scale sporting events, like the Final Four. The partnership included the Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee and the U of M’s Gopher Athletics. The men’s collegiate basketball games were hosted at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis from April 6 – 8, 2019, but volunteers started as early as April 4 preparing for the big event.
This isn’t the first time Schull has led students in an event this large—previously, she partnered with the NFL Super Bowl LII to teach courses related to sport tourism and its effects. However, this time around, the class centered around event management and provided “invaluable hands-on experience and access to so many industry professionals. Each week, KIN 5115 had at least one guest speaker from the field, which allowed for students to expand their network and hear from experts on the front line,” explained Schull.
Kaitlin Goff, sport management MEd student, enrolled in the class to experience a mega-event and learn first-hand what it takes to plan one. Goff and other street team volunteers monitored attendees of the games, and at one point managed over 60,000 people funneling in and out of the stadium. This excited—and slightly overwhelmed—Goff, who hadn’t previously led an event this large. From this experience, she recognized the importance of ongoing communication, and while reflecting on the excitement of mega-events, she realized just how much preparation one can take.
“Overall, it was a wonderful and unforgettable experience, and was definitely worth the sore feet and long hours.”
Kennedy Schull, third year undergraduate student, enjoyed interacting with her KIN 5115 classmates outside of the classroom. “It was a great way to get to know my peers. Instead of just sitting at desks together, we became co-workers.” Although an event this size rarely takes place without a few challenges, Kennedy was excited to jump into action with her fellow students with prior experience who took charge and shared their industry expertise and knowledge with the group.
“During the event, I learned the importance of taking initiative and leadership in making large projects run smoothly.”
What big event will KIN 5115: Event Management in Sport partner with next? “This year, we are hoping to work with the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at U.S. Bank Stadium,” says Vicki Schull.