Sports management majors get real-world experience at Winter X Games
Josie Schmidt ’22 and Nic Demichele ’22 recently returned from Aspen, CO, where they networked with industry professionals and gained significant work experience at the Winter X Games – even winning Impact Awards in recognition their dedication to go further.
February 4, 2022
Josie Schmidt ’22 recently made her first trip away from the East Coast. She attended the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, gaining hands-on experience in the job she hopes to pursue after graduating from college.
A graduate in sports management, Schmidt worked in guest services as part of the X Games student program. She rotated between working in the vaccination tents; check guests for proof of vaccination and give them bracelets for admission; and work at the competition, checking the credentials of guests entering private viewing areas and assisting in controlling foot traffic to ensure guests and athletes travel safely.
“This opportunity remains unmatched by anything I’ve done before,” she said. “I felt like I belonged – part of a hard-working team with a common passion for sport and business. The students I met are not only my team but are now my friends. Managers who have offered guidance and some of the most positive environments I have known are not just my former managers. These are relationships that will stay in touch with future opportunities.
“Put your knowledge into practice”
Schmidt and classmate Nic Demichele ’22 represented the University at the event, which is being broadcast around the world. The X Games also attracted guests from around the world and allowed Schmidt and Demichele to connect with professionals from various companies in the sports field, from ESPN to Aspen Skiing Company.
“So many successful people work for these companies, and the opportunity to interact with and be noticed by them has the potential to be life changing,” said Demichele, a sports management major. “My managers were all very welcoming leaders, and I made friends with other students from across the country who will also be entering the industry. It was a great opportunity because I observed and learned from events of this magnitude my entire life, and working there provided me with skills that could propel my future career.
“Josie and Nic gained significant work experience at the premier action sports event featuring the biggest names in snowboarding and skiing,” added Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., the students’ instructor. “These types of experiences have been less available with the pandemic forcing the industry to hold virtual events. Through this opportunity, they were able to put their knowledge into practice, network with industry professionals and gain industry experience. »
“I’m a big advocate of giving people a chance to shine”
Schmidt and Demichele were able to travel to Aspen thanks to the support of Sheena Williams ’10 MBA, adjunct professor of sports management at the University. Head of Business Operations for the Winter X Games, Professor Williams has a hybrid role at ESPN, and she handles X Games events and project management as well as finances for ESPN+ and ESPN Films.
“We have an alumni network that supports us and is dedicated to the professional development of our students,” Dr. Mumcu said. “Sheena brought her knowledge and experience to the class during the fall semester, and through this interaction, she created industry experience for our students. I am grateful to the alumni who constantly give back to our program in many ways. »
Professor Williams says there are a myriad of programs for students with big event ventures like the X Games, and she encourages other students to network and take advantage of them. Dr Mumcu is grateful that Professor Williams has already enabled some Chargers to take advantage of these meaningful opportunities.
“I’m a big advocate of giving people a chance to shine and seeing where that opportunity takes them,” said Professor Williams, who taught a sports finance course at the University this fall. “There is something really special about Josie and Nic! They are always ready to help and go the extra mile. I hope they have learned that opportunities come by always showing the best of yourself.
‘Experiences future employers want to see on your resume’
Demichele and Schmidt’s managers recognized their dedication with the X Games Impact Awards, choosing them because they “went beyond the job description”.
“The story behind the award is very inspiring,” said Demichele. “It was created in honor of one of the most respected members of staff who was diagnosed with a serious illness a few years ago.
“When she was battling her illness, she gave out wristbands at the X Games with a mission to positively impact people’s lives,” he continued. “This award was then given to staff who had a positive impact on event guests. Luckily she overcame the illness and I had the privilege of meeting this amazing and kind woman, which made the award all the more honourable.
Demichele and Schmidt are grateful for the support of Professor Williams, Dr. Mumcu and the university’s sports management department for enabling them to have such a rewarding experience at the start of their final semester at university. Schmidt says her time in Aspen has been an incredible learning opportunity, and she encourages other students to take advantage of as many such opportunities as possible.
“This experience has been invaluable to me,” she said. “These are the experiences future employers want to see on your CV. My dream is to work for a professional team, and I couldn’t ask for a better experience than working a professional event, even before I graduated. Wearing credentials at the bottom of the superpipe at the same event I watched on TV as an 8 year old is unfathomable to me.