Students, teacher score a super hands-on learning experience

By News@TheU

Students, teacher score a super hands-on learning experience

By News@TheU
The professor and students of a School of Education and Human Development course were volunteers for Super Bowl LIV last week and greeted fans at Sunday’s game at the Hard Rock Stadium.

More than a dozen University of Miami students volunteered at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, as well as at events during the week leading up to the game, as part of a class—Sport Facilities and Event Management—that they took during the fall in the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences. As part of the class, the students were trained as volunteer captains and they recruited other volunteers to help the massive event run smoothly. It was an unforgettable event for all, including the professor. The following are a few summaries of their experiences. 

Tyler Sklut, sophomore, sport administration major

Tyler SklutDuring the week before the big game, I volunteered at Super Bowl Live at Bayfront Park, which was a week full of celebrations leading up to the game. During my two, four-hour shifts, I was in charge of the social media board and was responsible for greeting and guiding visitors and sports fans who wanted to post their photos or comments on Twitter or Instagram. Often, I had to show them how to post on these channels publicly in order for the fans to see their comments on the electronic billboard. I demonstrated for at least 100 fans how to use the proper hashtag, #NFL100LIVE, when posting from their mobile phones. This was an interesting challenge.

As of now, I want to work in the sports industry, but I had not really explored the social media world. Volunteering at the events helped me learn that there was so much more to putting on the Super Bowl than I originally thought. I also learned that a simple hashtag could bring so much business in. So, learning the technology behind this event was really interesting.

During the game on Sunday, I was stationed around Hard Rock Stadium to help spectators with anything they needed—from directions to taking their photos. I gained phenomenal experience and saw some celebrities around the stadium—

such as Los Angeles Chargers player Joey Bosa, the Cathy family (founders of Chick-fil-A), and Ryan Lynch (brother of John Lynch, who is the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers). Also, since I was working in a buddy system, I was able to get a couple of peeks into the game and got to see the last five minutes of it.

This experience has really convinced me that sports is where I want to work. I really enjoyed my time and to volunteer for the biggest sporting event in the world was a forever moment for me. 

Lauren Yelner, sophomore, broadcast journalism and. sport administration major

Since I started at the University of Miami, I have always known that it is important to make use of your surroundings and any opportunity that comes your way. I am lucky enough that both the communications and sport administration programs have professors that are well-connected and give plenty of opportunities for real-world experience.  yelner

Last fall, I enrolled in assistant professor Erin McNary’s class, Sport Facilities and Event Management, because I saw it as a new way of getting experience in a field I had not previously explored. The Super Bowl is such a rare opportunity, and being enrolled in the class gave me guidance to learn the ins and outs of running a large-scale eventas well as showing me the professional roles available for people employed by the Super Bowl Host Committee.

During the actual Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, my classmates and I worked as volunteers in collaboration with staff to make sure people knew where they were going and were enjoying their time. It was heavily stressed to each of us that the fans were our priority, and I was lucky enough to be placed inside the tunnel within the stadium. While there, I was responsible for making sure everyone was accounted for and was enjoying their experience in Miami and in Hard Rock Stadium. This experience gave me meaningful insight into an area of the sports industry that I hadn’t previously encountered and helped me to learn more about the various areas in the industry in a way that I wouldn’t have without this course at UM.  

Casey Cloutier, junior, sport administration major

Casey CloutierIn the last few weeks, I have volunteered during three weekend shifts from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the information booth at Super Bowl Live. While working at the booth, I assisted guests with questions that they may have regarding where certain exhibits were, as well as communicating through the walkie-talkie with our volunteer captains, security, and dispatch.

I enjoyed doing this because I am a very outgoing person, and I love helping people. So, I had a lot of fun. Nothing brought more joy to me than being able to provide an excellent experience to all the people attending the events surrounding the big game.

Then came Super Bowl Sunday, where the class was able to volunteer at Hard Rock Stadium from 12:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. My partner Alex and I started working at the bottom of the South West gate, where we greeted numerous fans along with many celebrities. Fortunately, we had rotations with our volunteers, so Alex and I got to watch some of the game, too. This experience, as a whole, was beyond surreal and truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am forever grateful to the university, to Dr. Erin McNary; and to Elle Kehoe, vice president of volunteers for the Super Bowl Host Committee; for allowing all of us students to partake in such a phenomenal opportunity to further our career aspirations in sports. 

Erin McNary, assistant professor in Sport Administration

Erin McNaryTeaching a class solely focused on the Super Bowl was uniquely exciting and amazing! After spending four months learning from 10 members of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee about volunteer management, marketing, communication, sponsorship, economic impact, and leadership, it was refreshing to see all the planning come to fruition through the week of events leading up to the game called Super Bowl Live, as well as at the actual Super Bowl LIV.

As part of the class, students were required to volunteer for the host committee, including a chunk of hours the week before the game at Super Bowl Live, the fan fest held in Bayfront Park. Students were responsible for greeting, guiding, informing, and creating a fun and jovial atmosphere for the thousands of fans who come to Miami to be a part of Super Bowl week. On Sunday, the culminating experience for the class was volunteering at the actual Super Bowl LIV, where students were able to greet and interact with sports industry professionals, ticket holders, and celebrities.

Overall, I hope the students strengthened their skill sets in leading and interacting with a variety of personalities. There were many shifts where we worked long hours, which is the reality of the sports industry. So, the students got a glimpse of this. Sometimes you do not actually see the game, but when you are orchestrating the guest experience, providing a fun and safe atmosphere is the first priority. Despite all this, I think the students enjoyed working game day, and they grew professionally and made lasting memories. 

I am thankful to Elle Kehoe, vice president of volunteers for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, and her entire staff—as well as the other members of the host committee—for providing such a valuable experience to our students. This class has also helped expand my own knowledge of the production and facilitation of mega sporting events, so that I am able to better educate the students. Finally, I have made many valuable connections in the sport industry to help create future internship and job possibilities for our students and to continue building on the successes of the Sport Administration Program.