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York College Sport Management students get real-world experience at Sport Marketing Association conference

December 02, 2016
SMA Conference

The high-pitched buzz of an Indy 500 race car rounding the bend of the Dallara Indycar Factory still rings in the ears of Azia Evans and Peter Panassow.

“I never thought I’d have the chance to sit in one of those vehicles,” said Panassow, a senior York College of Pennsylvania Sport Management major. “It was just one part of a really amazing experience.”

The two were a part of a five-student, two-faculty member trip to the Sport Marketing Association’s annual conference in Indianapolis – an opportunity that provided real-world experience with feedback from industry professionals, along with a little fun on the racetrack. 

“The trip was amazing,” said Evans, also a senior Sport Management student. “It was two-fold: A way for me to see my growth in my major and all the things I learned in college. I enjoyed that I had the inside scoop in the sports industry.”


‘It opened my eyes’

The break-out sessions at the conference allowed students to learn more about the aspects of sports they may want to pursue.

“I am interested in going into the analytic part of sports. It opened my eyes to new ways I can pursue that in my career,” Panassow said. “There’s so many more avenues.”

Evans, who has been drawn to the sales aspect of sports since her junior year at York College, agreed.

“Meeting different professors all over the country was great. Meeting the COO of a top marketing sales company was really special,” she said. “The conference felt like it was designed for me.”


The Case Study Bowl

The York College students prepared for the conference with a research project that focused on social media use among male and female athletes, particularly when it comes to Twitter and Instagram. 

They presented their research at the conference, which helped prepare them for one of the main aspects of the trip: a case study competition by The Aspire Group. Their task was to brainstorm and present ideas to sell out the 2017 NCAA Women’s Final Four. The competition was aptly named, “The Aspire Group Case Study Bowl.”

“It was us and eight other teams from colleges around the country,” Panassow said. “We had one night to get ready and one chance to get it right.”

The sport marketing professionals they presented to included the editor of the Sports Business Journal as well as industry professionals and faculty from institutions around the country.

 “We all worked on the project together, and it was an awesome experience,” Evans said. “It was a chance for us to put ourselves out there and see how we could be better.”


Taking it back to the classroom

While York College has sent students and faculty to many conferences over the years, but this was the first time students from the college attended the Sport Marketing Association’s annual event. 

York College professors Dr. Molly Hayes Sauder and Dr. Mike Mudrick also benefited from the experience, picking up some valuable knowledge for future students. 

“That’s why we go. I picked up things for the classroom. I picked up things for research projects,” Dr. Hayes Sauder said. “We are always trying to figure out what is valuable for our students.”


A complete experience

The trip wasn’t all work for the students.

They toured Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, respective homes to the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. 

Panassow said the sporting aspect was fun, but he also noted that Indianapolis was a clean and vibrant city.

“When you combine the professional aspect with the chance to tour a city we’d never been to before, it was all part of the complete experience,” Panassow said. “I really appreciate the fact that I can get that at York College.” 

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