Written by Beth McGinn
February 16, 2014
For the past three years now I have spent one weekend away from Iowa City to go with a group of University of Iowa Recreation and Sports Business majors, along with students of various other majors, to network in the city of Indianapolis. These experiences not only broadened my range of knowledge professionally, but they also expanded my network of current professionals that I still connect with to this day. This year however, trip leader and Iowa lecturer Dan Matheson changed up the location and style of the annual trip by taking us to the city of Chicago for the day to travel to three locations and meet with a wider range of professionals.
Before the trip even began, Dan was already instilling in us the value of social media within sports by encouraging us to log our personal experiences using a special hashtag exclusively for the trip (#UIRSBFT14). With this already creating a buzz of excitement about the upcoming trip, it came as no surprise that when the day came every student arrived early for the six a.m. bus time in their business professional attire.
The first organization we visited was Red Frog Events. This is an event planning company that, from the indoor treehouse with a slide sitting in the heart of their office to the mustache mirrors on the wall to having a fully stocked kitchen at all times, is responsible for providing some of the most innovative work environments and events in the industry. Red Frog Events has certainly created a working environment that could get just about everyone excited and we witnessed that firsthand during a brief presentation when current employees provided us with exciting videos and facts on some of their newest and most successful events across the nation.
Our next stop of the day was at the United Center where we were able to meet with a panel of Blackhawks executives, including the organization’s Executive Vice President and current President and CEO who each took the time to give their personal stories on how they got to their current position as well as any advice they learned along the way. Then, to the surprise of just about everyone in the room, Dan and Iowa alum and current Blackhawk executive Adam Kempenaar unveiled a summer practicum with the Chicago Blackhawks that is soon going to be available for Iowa students. This stop ended with a tour of the Blackhawks locker room and weight room which is a dream come true to any Chicagoland native such as myself.
The last stop of the day was over to DePaul University’s athletics department where we first met with a few members of their fundraising staff who conveyed to us students the opportunities and challenges that an urban, private athletic department faces on a daily basis. Following them, the General Manager and Game Operations Manager for the Chicago Red Stars stopped by to share insight into the Professional Women’s Soccer League and the amount of resiliency and hard work that is needed to make yourself invaluable to a sports organization.
I am excited to not only share my experiences with future students interested in working in the sports industry but to also encourage others to take advantages of these unique opportunities as they come. Dan Matheson has provided a number of opportunities to help students interested in sports and I would encourage anyone to seek his advice and guidance in this field. One major lesson I have learned from these trips is that they are only as influential as you make them so I would encourage future students to seize these opportunities in the Recreation and Sports Business major and be proactive in utilizing them to their greatest potential.