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WACS sports management students get real-world experience at local ice arena

November 28, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Students in Kimberly Abbey's sports management I distance learning class recently had the opportunity to travel to the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena. What made this trip even more eventful was the fact that these students met face to face for the first time the day of their trip.

The distance learning students and teachers are given a unique educational learning opportunity. The goal of the distance learning system is to expand educational opportunities in western New York.

Students at the "host" site in Westfield meet daily in the distance learning classroom with their teacher, Abbey. Students at "remote" schools attend class daily with them via a fully-interactive, full-motion video and audio system. The teacher and students in a distance learning classroom in one school see, hear and talk to students in the other connected classrooms simultaneously.

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Students in Kimberly Abbey’s sports management I distance learning class recently had the opportunity to travel to the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena

The focus of the distance learning sport management class is for students to gain an understanding of the many facets of the rapidly growing event and sport management field.

The general principles of management are presented in the course through topics such as real world strategies, global and international aspects used by successful sports managers. Legal and ethical issues that exist in the field are examined as well as investigating how technology and the Internet help managers run successful franchises.

Students have been studying sporting event management; where they are learning to look at all aspects of running a sport and/or entertainment event. In the classroom, students learn the functions of management for planning, organizing, implementing, and finally controlling (the financial stats) of an event.

Students were greeted at the Jamestown Bank Savings Ice Arena by Brittany Mason, administrative assistant and sponsorship sales coordinator. "Brittany is a former student of mine," said Abbey. "She did a fantastic job with planning this trip for us. My students learned every aspect of event and facility management from people who do the jobs every day. I would give her an A+ on this project!"

Mason talked about the Box Office, Security, and a little history of the Arena. From there, students met with Phil Genco, marketing and web design manager. Students learned of the many marketing and social media aspects of running a sports and entertainment venue. Bridget Kleinfelder took the students to the main rink A, where she showed them the different levels of sponsorship and talked about the different corporate advertising contracts.

It was down to the locker room where Brian Cersosimo, Director of Hockey Development at JSBA, talked about the team work involved. "You can do several different jobs working in sport management. You must be flexible and creative because this is a 24/7 job. There are deadlines that have to be met or the arena's goal is not met." Brian spoke as a fan as well. "What do I get for my $10 ticket? Do I get anything for free? Will I be entertained? These are questions that fans have and it is up to us to make it the best experience possible for that $10 ticket."

Brain also spoke of the first annual College Soccer Showcase. "There isn't much out there for kids who play soccer. This event gives students a chance to showcase their soccer skills in front of college coaches. I am very excited to bring this event to our area."

The next stop was at "The Zam Pit," home of the Monster Energy and Shults Auto Group zambonis at the Arena with Craig Hinderleider, Senior Maintenance and Operations Manager for an up close and personal look at the rink's zambonies. "We have two. These are $80,000 machines and we are very fortunate sponsors advertise on our machines." Craig took them to Rink B where students learned how the rinks are prepared for hockey games, concerts and other events.

"What happens if the power goes out?" asked, Brittany Gatto, Westfield senior. "There is a generator that kicks in," said Hinderleider, "and we get 6-8 hours until the rink is in trouble. So far, we have been very lucky and not had any problems with a melting rink."

Students enjoyed a quick lunch break at "Sully's" right in the Arena. Food and Beverage Manager Cathy Hoitnik's team severed up delicious burgers, chicken tenders, fries and soda.

Their last stop was with Hannah Braun, Banquet/Events Manager, who heads up the room rentals for corporate parties, as well as other parties for the community. "We book the Legend Room for private parties and community events. There has been everything from wedding receptions, class and family reunions, sweet sixteen parties, comedy shows, craft fairs and just about anything you can think of."

Hannah's goal is to improve the experience by proposing a construction project that would give guests a view of the city as well as an update of the decor. The Arena Room houses an OptiGolf simulator and is available to book year round. "What does it cost to play a round and what courses are on the simulator?" asked Falconer student Mitch Carter.

Ms. Braun reported, "It costs $30 an hour and there are US, Candian, European and Mid-East courses as well as those created by OptiGolf. There is a wide range of courses to play and we have a lot of people renting the time to play."

Throughout the tour, students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the running and successes of a facility in the area. They learned, first hand, what it is like to work in and for a sports franchise by talking to and asking questions of the many management teams at the Stadium.

The willingness of the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena's Front Office to share the work experience and the Arena's inner workings have made this class what Distance Learning should be; a place where students get to experience what the real world is like. As a result, students have received a real feel for the business side of sports. Students in Ms. Abbey's class were able to significantly enhance the content of the course by seeing first-hand what they have been studying in the classroom.

"What my kids saw today is sometimes challenging to convey in the classroom. This visit helped contextualize and heighten their lessons." Ms. Abbey also added, "One of my senior students immediately went to our guidance counselor when he returned and told him that he wanted to go to college for sport and entertainment management. Previously undecided, this trip gave him the opportunity to learn his interests and realize this was a career area he wanted to be in. I am thrilled to have been a part in his goals and maybe one day I will be bringing another group of students with him in one of the tour stops."



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