Sports management students present their research at a prestigious conference

Four Chargers represented the University of New Haven at the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) conference in Houston, TX, learning important research, presentation, and teamwork skills while networking with current and future industry leaders across the country.

February 27, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

From left to right: Mohammed Anas Ali, Dr Ceyda Mumcu, Josie Schmidt, Andreas Xenofontos and Keira Integlia at the COSMA conference.

Andreas Xenofontos ’23 MS recently had what he calls an “incredible experience” traveling to Houston, Texas where he and several of his classmates participated in the Case Study Cup at the 2022 Commission Conference on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). Not only did he try ice skating for the first time and visit Space Center Houston, but Xenofontos learned professional skills and enjoyed invaluable networking opportunities.

Andreas Xenofontos (left) and Mohammed Anas Ali cheer on the Houston Rockets.
Andreas Xenofontos (left) and Mohammed Anas Ali cheer on the Houston Rockets.

A candidate for the University’s sports management graduate program, Xenofontos and his teammates gained hands-on experience collaborating and presenting their research to a panel of judges representing Houston’s professional sports teams.

Xenofontos says preparing for their presentation under a strict deadline gave him the confidence to know he can excel when faced with a similar challenge in his career. He says he is especially grateful for the opportunities he had to connect with other sports industry professionals at the conference.

“It was vital for personal development and academic perception,” said Xenofontos, a member of the Chargers men’s soccer team and a graduate assistant for the university’s Office of Graduate Studies and International Student Life. “We were able to interact and meet people with similar interests to ours who are passionate about a career in sports or who are already well-established professionals.

“We have expanded our networks significantly in a short time,” he continued. “I never thought I would speak with the Houston Rockets’ Director of Business Operations or people in the sports industry with thousands of followers on LinkedIn. The in-person interaction gave me the opportunity to communicate with them on a more personal level.

Group image of, left to right: Left to right: Mohammed Anas Ali, Keira Integlia, Andreas Xenofontos and Josie Schmidt.
From left to right: Mohammed Anas Ali, Keira Integlia, Andreas Xenofontos and Josie Schmidt.
“Valuable information that will be useful in the future”

Xenofontos was part of a team of graduate and undergraduate students from the University of New Haven who presented at the conference. As part of their research, they explored topics such as Houston’s demographics and the community initiatives of each of its professional sports teams. During their presentation to the judges, they discussed new creative initiatives each team could pursue. The ideas were inspired by what they learned about the most pressing social challenges facing the local community.

Mohammed Anas Ali ’22 MS, ’23 MS, who is pursuing graduate studies in sports management and business analysis, says it was a wonderful opportunity to apply the skills he developed in the classroom. The project, he explains, challenged him to think strategically and examine how the dynamic sports industry can adapt and thrive in the face of the impact of a global pandemic.

“It was a great opportunity to learn how to do proper research and analyze it according to industry standards,” says Ali. “Presenting our work in front of industry professionals gave our team valuable insights that will be useful in the future. We met and interacted with C-suite executives with the Houston Rockets, which included manager of marketing and the director of revenue. This would not have been possible without such an opportunity.

Group image of, left to right: Left to right: Keira Integlia, Andreas Xenofontos, Josie Schmidt and Mohammed Anas Ali during a Houston Rockets game.
Left to right: Keira Integlia, Andreas Xenofontos, Josie Schmidt and Mohammed Anas Ali during a Houston Rockets game.
“Teamwork is key”

For Josie Schmidt ’22, a sports management major, the experience made her feel like she was part of a tight-knit team while stepping out of her comfort zone. She enjoyed the camaraderie of collaborating with her teammates while developing her presentation skills.

“Building presentation and social skills go hand in hand,” she said. “Once you can become confident and comfortable in front of an audience, you will become more confident and comfortable building relationships with other industry professionals.

Andreas Xenofontos '23 MS (on floor) tries ice skating for the first time.
Andreas Xenofontos ’23 MS (on floor) tries ice skating for the first time.

“This conference helped me build my confidence and my abilities,” continued Schmidt. “I am thrilled to take it with me in class and in my career. Events and opportunities like this are invaluable when it comes to growing your network. These are the opportunities that employers want to see on your CV.

Keira Integlia ’23 MS says the experience was “extremely rewarding” and that she too stepped out of her comfort zone. She enjoyed presenting to the judges and representing the University at the conference, in addition to being part of the team.

“I learned, again, that teamwork is key,” said Integlia, a member of the Chargers women’s field hockey team. “Being versatile, open to constructive criticism, and willing to try different paths will help you succeed in the workplace. My teammates and I exchanged a lot of ideas and talked about what aspects to include in our presentation. Our ability to work effectively together and understand each other’s way of thinking ultimately allowed us to present an excellent entry that received excellent feedback from the judges. »

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