By: Travis Gorsch, @tgorsch3
About a week before I was set to take off for the West Coast Conference (WCC) Basketball Tournament I was attending a basketball game at USF when I noticed two people sitting in front of me with WCC branded notebooks. I decided to jump on the WCC’s website to figure out who was sitting in front of me. It turned out to be Lynn Holzman and Aaron Woliczko, the WCC Commissioner and the Associate Commissioner and Men’s Basketball & Sport Administration respectively. I decided to approach them after the game to introduce myself and let them know I would be at the tournament next week in Vegas to volunteer.
They ended up introducing me to Isabelle Ignacio, who was the Assistant Director of Administration & Events at the time. Isabelle is also a graduate of the USF Sport Management program. There are USF Sport Management alumni all around the Bay Area at the Giants, Athletics, Raiders, Warriors, Sharks, Stanford, Cal Berkeley, and the WCC, which will all come into play during my journey. Each and every one of them started at square one and are receptive to helping current students in the program get their foot in the door, which is half the battle in the sports industry.
I was excited to go to Vegas for the first time and for the opportunity to volunteer at the WCC Tournament. I didn’t have a lot of money in my bank account but the flight to Vegas was relatively cheap, and I knew I wasn’t going to be spending any additional money there. Flying to Vegas seemed a lot more reasonable than a story we read in class a couple weeks earlier about an alumnus who flew to Michigan to interview for an eight month unpaid internship with the Super Bowl XL Host Committee. She ended up getting offered the internship, getting paid, and it ultimately led to her next job. It seemed like it worked out well for her so I thought I’d take a chance.
My roommate for the tournament, D.J. Dikitanan, happened to be from the USF Sport Management program down in Orange County. Yes, we are literally everywhere. The USF Sport Management connection had proven to be great early on in grad school, but I knew it would go beyond just the alumni. Alumni are a great way to get your foot in the door, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough so I took every opportunity to introduce myself to as many people as I could at the tournament.
As Dr. Cellini would tell us in class, we had to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” I think volunteering scares a lot of people away. If you stop to think about it there are a lot of perks that volunteering can offer. If you show someone you are willing to work hard for free, they are going to notice. Volunteering is great for meeting people and expanding your network, but you will only get out what you put in. You have to find ways to add value and contribute something extra to the organization beyond the bare minimum roles and responsibilities assigned. Another great thing about volunteering is you can find out whether or not you would enjoy working in that setting. My personal favorite is there’s usually a lot of food, which is great for me because I’m a terrible cook.
The WCC Tournament ended up being a great experience and I met a lot of great people. I did everything from running stats to media row to being a promotions assistant to taking quotes at the end of the game during the press conferences. I also assisted the teams as an entrance attendant and locker room attendant. Out of the fifteen opportunities that I put on my “Game Plan” at the beginning of grad school, twelve of those were in college athletics. I thought if I wanted to work in college athletics everything would work out in the end as long as I stuck to my plan. On Tuesday morning, I flew back to San Francisco so I didn’t miss class that night. I was ready to get back to the city and figure out how to get my foot in the door with all these new connections in college athletics.