By Rick Vacek
CUU Information Office
For Nicole schuermann, it started when she was going to Arizona Diamondbacks games with her family and one day proclaimed, “I could be the Commissioner of Baseball.”
For Ryan batawalaHe has his roots in basketball and rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers while growing up in Garden Grove, California.
For Skylar Aprati, it came from a determination to get involved in the sport in one way or another, even when injuries prevented him from playing.
Three Grand Canyon University students, three avenues in the sports business world – and two extremely rewarding trips to major sporting events on the East Coast.
Schuermann and Batawala were chosen to work on Enshrinement Weekend for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 10 and 11, a trip made possible through GCU’s partnerships with the Hall of Fame and Position Sports. Aprati spent 14 grueling but exhilarating days working at the US Open tennis tournament in late August and early September in New York City.
All three returned with stories to tell and memories they will cherish – including some that may survive, affixed to the wall of a future office.
Schuermann, a senior specializing in sports management, had previously volunteered at events in the valley, such as Hoophall West and the Colangelo Classic.
But she wanted to do more. Thus, when the members of the Sports Business Club were invited this summer by a Colangelo Business College Instructor (CCOB), founder of Position Sports Kevin foley, to apply for the trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame, she jumped on it.
Applicants were required to submit a PowerPoint slide explaining their qualifications, and she and Batawala were chosen from a group of 15.
It was a dream weekend. They flew east that Thursday, attended the media session and gala on Friday, then went backstage on Saturday for the actual ceremony. It was so much more than the flight and the venue and being surrounded by famous people. It was the aura of it all put together.
âBeing able to attend an event of this magnitude before I even graduate and see if it’s even something that interests me was amazing,â said Schuermann.
âWhen I signed up for Sports Business I thought I would have hands-on activities because that’s what the advisors told us – GCU is all about practice. But then to be able to take a trip like this and see this – that was crazy. “
Madness was there on her helmet when she served as a runner, handing the microphone to members of the media as they questioned the inductees. She liked the way Dr Mark Clifford, deputy dean of the CCOB and director of athletic activities, described it: It’s like watching a duck glide through water – it looks serene above the surface but paddles furiously below.
The big moment for Batawala was the gala. He was able to be backstage and was the first person to congratulate the inductees and direct them to a photoshoot as they left the stage.
âWe were really in the thick of it with the real talent,â he said. “So it was an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it really means to work with professional athletes in their day-to-day lives, especially at a time that is so special to them.”
One of the inductees was Paul Pierce, a star with the Boston Celtics in their battles with the beloved Batawala Lakers.
âI grew up playing basketball,â Batawala said. âBeing in the presence of some of the greatest athletes of my generation, the people that I have seen growing up, was truly breathtaking for me.â
GCU students worked closely with the Position Sports team – Alex carlson, Creative coordinator; Ashley Orozco, Events coordinator; and Melissa Meacham-Grossman, Senior Vice President of Business Strategy and Development. And that led to the best time of all.
As Schuermann and Batawala were walking with Carlson through the Hall of Fame Hall on Consecration Day, they came across Jerry Colangelo, namesake of the GCU business school. Carlson introduced them, and it made for a memorable conversation and even more memorable photo with Colangelo.
âHe was super inviting. It was a pleasure to chat with him, âsaid Batawala, a junior specializing in sports management. âHe’s someone we idolized at our club for helping build what Arizona sports are like today. Being able to talk to him and choose his brain is an incredible opportunity, and this photo will one day hang in my office. It is a moment that I will never forget.
âIt was a time when you are amazed and don’t even know what to say or think. You’re just like, “Wow, this is really happening.” Being able to interact with him and show him that GCU has promising young sports professionals was something that was great for me.
Aprati is also part of the Sports Business Club, but specializes in communication and specializes in sports management. She decided this summer that she needed some experience at a professional event and targeted the US Open, in part because she had watched major tennis tournaments with her father, Brian Aprati, for so many years growing up in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
She had a phone interview with officials at the US Open, then a follow-up interview on Zoom, and she was there. His reward: working at one of the entrances, welcoming guests, giving them directions and suggesting good dining options, for 10 hours a day. , 14 days in a row.
And even â¦
âI wouldn’t trade it for the world,â she said. “It was so much fun.”
It was her first time attending a professional tennis event, and she was even able to peek inside and watch some of the action. She had played tennis avidly in her youth before a broken ankle ended all dreams of continuing (“Tennis didn’t love me as much as I loved it”), then graduated from volleyball. in high school before a torn rotator cuff forced him to think about coaching rather than playing.
Luckily, he was offered a job as a student coach with his club team. âIt sparked my love for the sport,â she said. The result is that she got involved in volleyball at a higher level and that in June she was responsible for the retail sales for the Junior Nationals Volleyball Championships at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Her career goal: She would like to do sports communication. âI’m not really against any sport,â she said. âAny sport is enough for me. Maybe even baseball – she hopes to gain some experience in spring training next year.
Schuermann, on the other hand, is focused on event planning and possibly community outreach in the world of sports – if she doesn’t become Commissioner of Baseball, of course.
It started out as a joke, she said, but the more she thought about it the more excited she was to work in the sport in some capacity. And what would she do if she was a commissioner? The answer shouldn’t come as a surprise.
âMake sure they give back to the community,â she said. âMake sure we have a bunch of community outreach because we have to reach out to little kids. “
This is also what it is all about for sports business students: reaching out. Schuermann’s advice for any student who is hesitant to volunteer for an event, big or small.
âI would say definitely apply, even if you think you’re never going to get it,â she said. âJust by sending it, you went one step further than a lot of people. We never know. An experience like this could be the difference between deciding what you want to do in sports.
It could also be the first of many good memories.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [emailÂ protected].
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