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Road trip provides behind-the-scenes sports industry tours and workshops

A group of 24 College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences students hit the road to Indianapolis, IN for a multifaceted field trip, featuring a panel discussion, professional football practice facility visit hosted by a WVU graduate, and tips for career development. 

The action-packed day, coordinated by the CPASS Office of Student Success and WVU Career Services, started with a tour of the Pacers facility at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

“Our group received a tour though the concourse, luxury suites, locker rooms, practice courts and more. Students learned about the business side of event planning from the Pacer’s senior event coordinator,” explained Killeen Schlegel, CPASS retention and advising specialist.   

The group headed to the NCAA national headquarters building, also located in downtown Indianapolis. Students first heard from full-time, professional panelists who work within all levels of the NCAA organization. 

The panel switched over to post-graduate interns working with the organization in various units. Both panels allowed students to listen to their personal journeys and learn beneficial tips for professional development within the sports industry. After both panels, students toured the Hall of Champions and learned more about the history of the NCAA organization. 

For the final stop of the day, students visited the Colts practice facility, hosted by Dave Walston, assistant athletic trainer and WVU Master’s in Athletic Training alumnus. Walston highlighted his day-to-day work schedule, including interaction with the players for upwards of 14 plus hours a day. The facility featured state-of-the-art training room, locker room and strength and conditioning area.  

Students saw the indoor/outdoor practice fields, athletic training and players’ locker rooms. Walston described the various staff members and their roles in providing conditioning, performance and rehabilitation services.  

Natalie Gerber, sport management freshman, says the behind-the-scenes look at high-level sport organizations was more than she expected. “I am thankful for CPASS who always gives great opportunities for their students to learn. CPASS sets us all up for a bright future after WVU,” she explained. 

“I was appreciative to attend the NCAA headquarters trip. Each session proved to be a positive experience while offering many teachable moments that I will continue to use as I advance into the sports business,” she said.   

According to Gerber, the NCAA headquarters exuded a professional atmosphere. “What I liked about this networking event was the opportunity to meet various staff members and listen to what each person does each day. Positions ranged from a managing director, associate director and NCAA post graduate interns. I gained a better understanding of the importance of their roles within the NCAA,” she added.   

“The Indiana Pacers senior events coordinator gave us an exclusive tour of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. This was an eye-opening moment. I learned just a fraction of what it takes to run a large-scale professional sports venue. It was an impressive facility with a lot going on during events. The amount of coordination and effort that goes into running a venue or a professional sports team is impressive. It’s complicated. Every person’s position was just as important as the next,” Gerber explained. 

“I am looking forward to attending another trip like this one and would recommend all my peers to get involved with this opportunity as well,” she said. 

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