Sports management students get hands-on experience at the Spalding Hoophall Classic 2022 presented by Eastbay
By Cait Kemp
As the new semester kicks off, students are excited and excited to finally be back on Alden Street and back to classes and activities. A handful of students are already settled and have been on campus for another five days.
The 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay returned to Springfield College Jan. 13-17, after a year-long hiatus due to COVID.
This event, hosted by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, strongly engages Springfield College students and gives them the opportunity to get real insight into how to plan and run a professional event.
The Sports Management program is privileged to bring together around 90-100 students to work the event. Their roles vary from volunteers, liaisons and supervisors who all have vital responsibilities to ensure the success of the event.
Junior Sophia Bucal was one of two senior supervisors this year, and her experience gave her the chance to get involved in event planning, which helped her see a similar path for her future.
In 2020, as a freshman, Bucal was on staff as a volunteer. She was part of the media team and also an usher, working in the stands to help classify people.
The 2020 Hoophall Classic attracted some big names, with schools like Sierra Canyon making the trip from California to play. There were huge crowds packed into the Blake Arena, something no one is used to seeing with COVID.
“It was definitely more challenging, as a first-time event volunteer working on a huge event like this,” Bucal said. “I didn’t expect to be able to participate in this event until I got here.”
As lead supervisor for 2022, Bucal had many responsibilities over the weekend. She and her co-supervisor, Grady Short, had to train the entire staff, which dropped to around 85-90 students after issues with COVID. The lesser manpower made everyone’s job a little more difficult, but with good communication they were still able to maintain a smooth experience.
Sophomore Aidan Reilly had the opportunity to be a liaison, where he was responsible for certain teams during the event. This included greeting them and leading them where they needed to be.
It was his first year at the Hoophall Classic, and he worked through the new situation making sure everyone, even the coaches, listened and followed him.
“It’s hard to tell a 45 year old that he has to stay with you, a 19, 20 year old… it was a tough thing, trying to get past those guys. All the coaches were amazing, they were so respectful, so they all understood that we’re all still kids and maybe this is the first time we’ve worked on such a big event,” Reilly said.
Junior Cole Crynock has faced similar trials and tribulations bringing teams from the locker room to the field. Many games went over time, resulting in multiple games being saved, so teams were ready to enter the field before they could do so.
“The biggest challenge was definitely making sure the teams were on the pitch at the right time… there were times when the teams wanted to go on the pitch, but there were still six minutes left in the fourth quarter, and you just can’t have them sitting up there that long,” Crynock said.
He had to keep the teams calm while waiting for the game, when many players and coaches were eager to get on the hardwood.
Crynock learned from hands-on experience, being able to pick up things that students might not get from sitting in a classroom.
“I found it to be a lot of on-the-spot problem solving. A lot of things you learn in class are like communication, whether it’s like marketing, stuff like that in class,” Crynock said.
“But a lot of organizing the event is thinking and problem-solving along the way, which I think you can’t really prepare for in class.”
As supervisor, Crynock was posted downstairs where the locker rooms and media room were located.
He set up the locker rooms and helped the teams get there, and brought the players and coaches into the media room to keep it organized and calm, as many media representatives were crowding the space .
Bucal also recognized the opportunity to learn how to make decisions on the fly. It was a whirlwind of events, and sometimes there was no time to argue with others or make sure the choice was the right one. She felt that following her instincts and trusting herself was a huge advantage of Hoophall.
“You learn to solve problems on the spot…at that point you might think that’s the best decision and you’re going to have to settle for that,” Bucal said.
The Hoophall Classic is a unique opportunity for Springfield College students. With the tight-knit community, students have chances to gain valuable experience that people at larger colleges may not have. It gives sports management students a real insight into the industry.
“This event is a huge learning experience. There are a lot of people who don’t have that type of experience and get to work with such a high profile event at a young age, so just being able to work directly with special events and the Hall of Fame genre help I know what I want to do in the next few years,” Bucal said.
Springfield College offers this idea of practical experience not only in sports management, but in all of its programs. Springfield’s ties to the Hall of Fame and other organizations serve students in their academic journey.
Bucal also took the opportunity at Hoophall to network with people, something that might not seem like a big deal now, but is extremely important as students get closer to graduation.
“Whether you’re a lead supervisor, supervisor, liaison, or volunteer, you can introduce yourself to anyone and connect yourself that way. People are going to remember who you are,” Bucal said.
“Since this is taking place at Springfield College, you are already going to stand out. You don’t realize how many people have gone to Springfield College, which sets you apart from others.
The 2022 Spalding HoopHall Classic was a huge success, and Springfield College’s sports management program deserves a lot of the credit.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College