A ‘super’ learning experience

Students in a new course this semester have the chance to learn about putting on the next Super Bowl from its own employees. Earlier this semester, they visited the Super Bowl LIV headquarters. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Students in a new course this semester have the chance to learn about putting on the next Super Bowl from its own employees. Earlier this semester, they visited the Super Bowl LIV headquarters. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

A ‘super’ learning experience

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
A new course is providing students a primer on planning the Super Bowl, one of the biggest events of the year, from its own organizers.

Senior Pablo Marinuchi, an exercise physiology major, knows he wants to be a physical therapist for a sports team one day.

So when he saw the chance to volunteer for the Super Bowl LIV Host Committee and earn class credit, Marinuchi jumped at the chance.

“This will give me another foot in the door with meeting other people in the sports industry that may have connections to players or teams,” said Marinuchi, who is also minoring in sport administration.

The new course, offered this fall by assistant professor Erin McNary in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, gives students a chance to learn about putting on the next Super Bowl from its own employees, while simultaneously training them as lead volunteers for the Super Bowl Host Committee, which puts on the annual game.

As volunteer “captains” for Super Bowl LIV, the 20 students in the class — along with McNary — have spent the past few weeks recruiting and interviewing other potential volunteers. Throughout the course, students are required to spend three days volunteering this semester and three days next semester in the week leading up to the game, McNary said.

“It’s been really exciting to see my students in action and to see them grow and learn a lot about the overall operations of bringing a mega-event to a city,” McNary said. “A lot of students will travel in for this game, but they won’t have the exposure of having met the host committee in class. This will be more of a comprehensive experience for them with the culminating project being volunteering at the actual Super Bowl.”

mARINUCHI
Marinuchi and a classmate recruit new volunteers at the Super Bowl LIV headquarters in downtown Miami. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami.

Weekly lectures cover event planning, marketing, sponsorship, economic impact, and leadership as well as customer relations, Mc Nary said. The class also has eight guest speakers visiting from a variety of areas on the Super Bowl Host Committee. Employees such as Elle Kehoe, vice president of volunteers, Greg Terp, vice president of operations, and University of Miami alumna Kristina Hudak, who is the manager of sponsor activation and events, have spoken to students about topics like budgeting, partnerships, safety, and risk management. Next week, the host committee’s vice president of marketing and communications will visit the class, McNary said.

Overall, the committee hopes to get a small army of 10,000 volunteers for the game on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 and the events leading up to it, so having University students help them attract volunteers will be critical, Kehoe said.

“Volunteers are the most important part of the Super Bowl because they touch the fans the most of anyone involved,” she told the class recently. “Only 68,000 people get to go to the game, but 150,000 people come to be part of the experience. For many of these people it’s their first time in Miami and we want to make sure it’s not their last.”

Kehoe said she is looking forward to an ongoing relationship with the University.

“It’s great to have students as volunteers because they are go-getters, they’re friendly, bubbly, and full of new ideas,” she said.

Antonia
Antonia Guy, a student in the Super Bowl class works to recruit volunteers at Miami Culturefest recently. Photo courtesy of Erin McNary.

McNary said the class aims to help students understand how to plan major sports events, and to give them a chance to network with experts in the sports industry, many of who are volunteer captains. Already McNary said she has noticed that many students who were a little shy at first have become more extroverted at recruiting events.

“My hope is that internships and maybe even jobs will come out of this opportunity,” she added. “They are in a real-life setting where skills like leadership, teamwork, and communication can continue to be crafted.”

As their final project, students must team up and present a Super Bowl bid proposal for 2025, explaining why their chosen city should host the game, McNary said. She and Kehoe will judge the proposals and choose a winning team.

Junior Casey Cloutier has been watching the Miami Dolphins, Boston Red Sox, and Boston Celtics since he can remember and is thrilled to be involved in the Super Bowl LIV through McNary’s class. A sport administration major, he recently transferred from a small college in Maine and said he is excited to be in a place where there is more exposure to major league teams.

 “Getting the opportunity to volunteer at an amazing event like the Super Bowl is right up my alley,” Cloutier said. “It shows that UM is a good fit for me and this will be a stepping stone to get my career jumpstarted.”