By: Andrew Knauff
Publication: MC Office of College Relations
When most Marietta College students travel to Ohio University they’re visiting friends or fulfilling a craving for Chipotle that can’t be satisfied any closer.
But when Kiki Cunningham ’14 (Salesville, Ohio) goes to Athens, it’s all business.
Last fall Cunningham attended Ohio University’s Sports Business Forum, put on by Ohio University’s Sports Business Association. The experience was so gratifying that it inspired Cunningham to create her own chapter of SBA at Marietta College.
SBA is based on the idea of professional development, giving extra opportunities to the students involved and helping establish an alumni base, which students can use to network through.
“I came back (from the conference) and pitched the idea to Professor (Debbie) Lazorik (Director of Marietta’s Sports Management major). She thought it was a great idea and told me to run with it and be the main leader in the formation,” Cunningham says.
Cunningham handpicked a working group of students to help establish and create the group on campus. Modeling their chapter after Ohio University’s and University of Michigan’s SBAs the group of Cunningham, Tyler Packanik ’16 (Plant City, Fla.), Daryl DeWindt ’16 (Lilburn, Ga.), Stephanie DeAngelis ’15 (South Park, Pa.), Chris Long ’15 (Lancaster, Ohio) and Jake Hammer ’14 (Wadsworth, Ohio) were able to establish the groundwork of a mission statement, constitution and goals for the organization by the spring semester.
“Kiki is really the reason SBA exists,” Hammer says. “There were several members in the ‘working group’ that contributed, but Kiki was the person who put most of the constitution together, originally talked with (Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Involvement Jacob) Tidwell, and led the working group meetings.”
In its first semester as an official organization SBA offered several unique opportunities to those involved. In April, several members traveled to Pittsburgh for the NCAA’s Frozen Four for volunteer opportunities. Five members also traveled to Charlotte, N.C., for the TPG Sports Career Conference. Several members also played key roles in setting up Community Baseball Day and Community Softball Day.
Cunningham plans on taking the fall semester off to focus on internships, but Hammer will be taking the role as president and has big plans for the coming year.
“The plans SBA has for this fall are to develop a good relationship with Ohio University’s SBA,” Hammer says. “They already have a successful organization and will serve as a good model for us. We are also looking to attend a national conference at least once, and host guest speakers, hopefully successful alumni of the industry. The overall experience we are hoping members take away is the exploration of career opportunities in sport business, and what we can do now to make ourselves more competitive in the job market.”
Lazorik stresses the idea that anyone can join SBA. The group doesn’t limit itself to sports management majors.
“The SBA is open to any student who is interested in the sport industry and is looking to pursue professional development, networking, alumni contacts and increased their knowledge in the field,” Lazorik says. “Currently there are 32 members and we hope to grow the organization over the next year. The SBA’s program will include speakers, two field trips and volunteer opportunities.”
Hammer, Cunningham, and Lazorik all share the same enthusiasm toward the growth of the group in the future.
“I expect this group to really take off in terms of popularity,” Hammer says. “Our initial meetings were highly attended and with the growth of the sports management program, think the size of the organization will follow suit. Students know this is a highly competitive job market and are looking for ways to help their chances after graduating with a sports management degree.”