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The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Sports Management Program got a behind-the-scenes experience with the Tulsa Oilers as their semester came to a close. A relatively new program, an Associate in Science in Sports Management prepares students to conduct every aspect of sports production, from scheduling to marketing. During their trip to the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, students met with Mr. Shawn Watring, Vice President of Ticket Sales for the Tulsa Oilers hockey team. “I was really happy our students got chance to witness what it takes to be involved in a production like this,” said Calvin Becker, business and technology instructor.

“Even though Mr. Watring was in charge of ticket sales, he showed that everyone in a leadership role has to know every aspect of the production, from marketing, to operations, to sponsorships.”

“It was eye-opening to see how much goes into the evening,” said Dylan McKenzie, a freshman in the program. “With hockey having such a small reach in this area, they have the create promotions like dollar beer night for adults or ticket packs for six or twelve games to get people in the seats.”

“It was more than just hockey,” added Demontre Gatewood, another freshman in the program. “Everything was scripted down to what plays on the screen during a timeout or who plays a game on the ice during an intermission. You have to be well-rounded and understand all aspects of the event.”

For Becker, having field experiences like these are invaluable to students in a program as specific as sports management. “Several of the classes in our program come from the general business curriculum and we relate that back to sports management, but these events help us show students what really goes on behind the scenes,” he noted. “Many of our students are athletes, so it gives them the opportunity to see how a game operates from an entertainment and service side.”

In addition to valuable experience related to their field, students also came home with an invitation to gain connections and on-the-job skills. Freshman Trace Henry noted that before they left, Watring told them about one-day internships and invited the NEO students to participate. “Mr. Watring told us that they are always looking for people to help out when they are hosting a game,” Henry said. “Even if it is for one night, he said they would be able to use interns and help us learn a variety of game-day operations.”

As the program continues to grow, Becker intends to take more trips to generate interest in the program and give students hands-on experiences. The A.S. in Sports Management is a 60-hour program that prepares students to enter the workforce in positions such as a facility operator, team marketer, or sporting goods store manager, or to transfer into a four-year sports management program. For more information about the program or to make an appointment to speak with an NEO Business Department Faculty, contact 918-540-6294 or e-mail business@neo.edu.


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