ASU students receive real-life opportunity
Article by Linda Relyea
Adams State University Human Performance and Physical Education Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Stocz arranged for two students to volunteer at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in December. Samuel Bilderbeck '17 and Tyler Copeland '18 spent two days meeting sports heroes, standing on the field at a Bowl Game, and networking with sports industry professionals.
"It all started with sitting in the actual NCAA meeting, which was pretty awesome to observe," Bilderbeck said. "We had the opportunity to work alongside Jeff Siembieda the Executive Director of the Bowl and Cary Colbert the Director of Operations."
Stocz presented the chance for all his students to volunteer at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. "I am pleased Samuel and Tyler took advantage of the opportunity." He volunteered with the Bowl in 2016 and remained in contact with the staff members. Stocz also worked at the Bowl again this December.
ABC/ESPN owns the Gildan NM Bowl and Disney owns ABC/ESPN/20th Century Fox. "It is all about who you know in sport management and I believe this experience is crucial for all students. It takes a lot of guts to head to a bigger area and work with the big dogs, but these students did that exceptionally well from the reports I have received."
Copeland appreciated the experience. "Getting the opportunity to work at the Gildan New Mexico bowl was an amazing experience that motivated me to work even harder to achieve my goal of working in the sport industry."
The Adams State students worked alongside Volunteer Coordinator Amber Martinez. "We aided Amber to make sure things went smoothly," Bilderbeck said. He and Copeland escorted players, coaches, bands, and cheer squads; made sure the press level and box seats had enough programs and New Mexico Bowl apparel to give out; and set up for the New Mexico Bowl luncheon the day before the game. Former Philadelphia Eagle standout quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. "I am a diehard Eagles fan," Bilderbeck said.
The students met any need that came up. "I found out that this is exactly how the sports industry is, especially within event management. Something happens and you just roll with it," Bilderbeck added.
One of Copeland's favorite experiences "was getting the opportunity to look behind the scenes of the many inner workings of the event, and getting to visit all the VIP tents."
Both students made contacts with the Mountain West Conference, ABC/ESPN, Marshall University, Colorado State University, and the Houston Dynamo, a major league soccer team in Houston. "I will absolutely utilize many of these contacts for working opportunities along with letters of reference and recommendations," Bilderbeck said.
An Alamosa High School graduate, Bilderbeck graduated this December with degree in sport management with a minor in business administration. He has been working on a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and will complete that degree in May. Bilderbeck will pursue a degree in sports law and business. Because his ultimate professional goal is to work within the sports industry, volunteering at the Bowl was "priceless."
The students also met an NFL agent. "I have these contacts as well, but it is easier for a student to get an internship, job, or graduate assistant spot if they also have these same contacts," Stocz said. "I can praise a student until I am blue in the face, but if the student has already proven themselves on a huge stage, such as Samuel and Tyler did, it makes it much easier for said student to get that opportunity."
Treated as equals
Bilderbeck said they were treated as if they worked for the New Mexico Bowl. "We had passes and were on the field at least half of the game, which was an experience like no other. I really felt like I was making a true difference within my professional career. It took my breath away to even stand on the field and admire the beauty of the game, yet be within all of the awesome people working for the Bowl."
Stocz worked the week before the game. His assignments included delivering team materials to each of the hotels, which included player gift bags, coach welcome packs, food and drinks for the hotel hospitality areas, receiving and delivering sponsor donated food items; welcoming the teams, working the welcome night for the teams at Main Event Entertainment, an indoor fun park with video games, bowling and laser tag.
"For me, seeing Samuel and Tyler not only put themselves out there, but succeed at such a major level. That speaks to their capabilities in the field of sport management. I could not be more proud of them. I hope their example will lead to more students participating in events such as this."
The Marshall Thundering Herd, Huntington, West Virginia, beat the Colorado State Rams at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl played at Dream Style Stadium in Albuquerque, NM, on December 16.
Stocz started at Adams State in the summer of 2017 and teaches sport management courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels including sport ethics, sport law, sport finance, sport communication and technology, statistics in human performance, strategic management in a sports setting, sport marketing and public relations, and facility and event management. He is also the graduate coordinator for the sport management program and recently completed is doctorate degree.