AU Sport Management students work at the NFL Super Bowl LV Fan Experience

02/19/21 ASHLAND, Ohio – There’s nothing like Tampa, Florida in February – especially when the Super Bowl is in town.

That’s what 11 students from the Ashland University Sport Management Department found when they headed south to volunteer at the NFL Super Bowl Fan Experience. Led by Dr. Lance Kaltenbaugh, the group -- Kimmy Gayhardt, Kevin Huber, Allison Jacobs, Brian Lippiatt, Jessie Mayne, Drew Mills, Justin Moore, Kristen Ogle, Mia Rader, Nick Sparr and Amanda Stewart – got a hands-on learning experience they won’t soon forget.

“During the week, students were introduced and involved in concepts and skills such as event planning, facility operations, and the coordination and set up of hundreds of volunteers,” Kaltenbaugh said. “It was an honor to be able to volunteer and be hands on at the NFL experience. It allowed students to reach an entirely new level of understanding of what it takes to be successful within the sport industry.”

The group volunteered for 30 hours over two days, assisting with fan drills such as the 40-Yard Dash, QB Scramble, Two-Minute Drill, Field Goal Contest, and helping control lines at popular attractions such as the Vince Lombardi Trophy site and Mock NFL Draft.

“I chose Ashland because of the many opportunities offered in the sport management field and in my first year, I already have multiple great experiences under my belt,” said AU freshman Drew Mills.

In addition to volunteering, the group had the opportunity to connect with AU alumnus Jarrod Williams, who serves as the executive director at the Campo Family YMCA, one of the nation’s largest YMCAs. The students were able to tour the facility as well as hear Williams’s story and career progression from AU student to YMCA executive director.

“I had a great time speaking about non-profit and recreation leadership with some Sport Management students from my alma mater, Ashland University,” Williams said. “This group of young leaders were in town to volunteer at the #SuperBowlLV festivities. I look forward to future involvement with the Ashland University Sport Management program”.

The rest of the trip was filled with tourism and hospitality experiences as the group traveled throughout the Tampa and Orlando areas. The students visited Raymond James Stadium -- home of Super Bowl LV-- Tropicana Field and George Steinbrenner Stadium. They were also able to learn and experience components in the hospitality industry through visits to Disney Springs and Universal Studios.

"This experience has given me the opportunity to watch and experience event management in sport on a professional level,” said Kimmy Gayhardt. “Through getting this hands-on experience I was able to watch the concepts I have discussed in my business courses come to life. I made several professional connections while traveling and was able to grow friendships with those I traveled with. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I am thankful to have”.

Kaltenbaugh is already looking ahead to the next opportunity for the program and his students. “This year’s trip was so successful that I am looking forward to planning for next year’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles, California.  Students have already expressed an interest in going and being involved”. 

But he isn’t waiting until next year to provide his students with another experiential learning opportunity. “Next on the agenda for the Sport Management program and the College of Business and Economics,” he said, “is to start working with the Greater Cleveland Sport Commission and volunteer at the NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio at the end of April.”

For more information about this initiative and other opportunities available through the Sport Management program, contact Kaltenbaugh at lkaltenb@ashland.edu.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.###