For the first time in the Grambling State University’s history, students had the opportunity to learn vital information about the sports industry from people who work for a National Basketball Association team. The event was the inaugural GSU Sports Leadership Summit, which was held in the Favrot Student Union recently.
Approximately 100 students attended the summit to get professional tips about the industry. The purpose of the summit was to prepare students who want to have a career in the sports field and to make them aware of the diverse jobs available.
The summit attempted to “expose our students to all the things that are happening in the sports industry and to provide a professional environment setting,” said Dr. Christina Gipson, a professor in GSU’s Sports Administration Department, before the opening ceremonies.
Gipson estimated that 60 of the students who attended the summit, which was held earlier this month, are expected to graduate in May.
The summit consisted of 10 panelists who work in the sports and leisure industry. Each panelist told life stories, obstacles they encountered and how they became established in their current profession.
“This job really changed my life,” said Justin Ricks, 25, a Monroe native who graduated from Grambling in May 2012 with a master’s degree in business management.
“I try to tell people to focus on the end result because the process to success can be discouraging, but with your main focus on the end result will be rewarding.”
Ricks was one of the panelists from the Memphis Grizzlies and is fresh to the NBA franchise business world. He was an inside sales consultant with the Grizzlies but who was about to start a new job as an account executive in new business development with the Washington Nationals, a Major League Baseball team in D.C.
Another alumnus from the Grizzlies’ panel was Monroe native Brian Lowe, director of ticket sales and services. During his tenure at Grambling, Lowe received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and played football under the late coach Eddie Robinson.
Lowe encouraged students to get involved with social media, especially obtaining a LinkedIn account. According to Lowe, LinkedIn is more of a “networking site” unlike Facebook, which is more of a social media website. Lowe advised the students to stand out from the rest, particularly by being “the first one in the office and the last one out the office.”
Joshua James, 24, is a senior sports management major who saw the summit as an opportunity.
“I felt that I needed to network for a potential career opportunity and meet some great people in the industry,” said James. “I also wanted to develop myself as a product and market myself.”
Tiffani Morrow, 25, another Grizzlies’ representative, stressed the importance of looking for quality internships and encouraged students to go out and get work experience to stand out from the crowd.
“This field is very, very competitive, it is growing and people want to be a part of it,” said Morrow. “You have to be humble about it and hungry.”
During the Looking at the Whole Field session, Morrow informed students how Lowe had noted that in a meeting with 300 people, there were only 16 African American females and 35 African American present.
Brian Harris, 24, a sports administration major who expects to graduate this semester, is glad he attended the summit and learned new things that he will start to apply in his daily life. Harris noted how all panelists echoed each other on the subject of social media.
“I didn’t know how serious they [prospective employers] took social media,” said Harris, who learned that companies check applicants’ social media presence before hiring them. He plans to clean up his social media site and take all the advice given to him.
According to Dr. Obadiah Simmons, the summit was partially funded from a grant that he already had called Project EMERALD.
Gipson said the summit took them five weeks to prepare and plan. The effort was made because they wanted to give students an opportunity to meet successful alumni in the sports industry.