“The number one thing I am learning is people skills,” said Harrison Stevens, as he worked the media and VIP ticket stand at Killian Field for the state high school softball championships this weekend.
Stevens is a senior sport management major at Evangel University, and is one of 47 Evangel students that helped produce the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) games, held for the 10th year in Springfield.
“It helps us immensely to have Evangel provide the manpower for this event,” said Craig Long, chief financial officer for MSHSAA. “Their ability to work with people has been remarkable. Their way of conducting themselves flatters us as an organization.”
Students in the Kinesiology Department at Evangel have volunteered to help at state softball and tennis events for several years. This is the first time, however, that they have been asked to staff and produce an entire tournament, according to Donovan Nelson, assistant professor of kinesiology.
“This is good for our program,” said Nelson, who heads the sport management major. “We are honored that they entrusted us with the tournament, to say ‘here, take it,’ and we successfully produced the event. This is amazing hands-on experience for our students.”
According to Long, there is always a need for local help for the various MSHSAA events, but this was the year for major changes. “When we wanted to make changes in event management, we went straight to Donovan,” said Long. “His kids are always ‘rock stars.’ We always get great support from them.”
Of the 47 student volunteers at the Fall Season State Softball Tournament, 29 were sport management majors, and 12 were earning other degrees in the Kinesiology Department.
Students helped with everything from set-up to tear-down and a dozen jobs in between.
“It benefits the students to see the real world in this career,” said Lou Mazzocco, assistant executive director at MSHSAA. “They even saw that we had a leader with a Ph.D. hanging banners with zip ties.”
Mazzocco is new to his job, but was impressed with the maturity of the EU students. “They have done an exceptional job. These students see what needs to be done, and they resolve problems quickly.”
Stevens appreciated the total experience. “I have especially enjoyed seeing what goes on behind the scenes, the operations of an event that you don’t see as a spectator or a player,” said the Eagle, Colo., native and member of EU’s baseball team.
Another Evangel student who was made to stretch and grow was Michelle Sheppard, a junior from Broken Arrow, Okla. “I am not sure where I want to go after graduation, but I sure have enjoyed working with the MSHSAA on this event.”
Sheppard is one of a couple of students that Long has his eye on. “Maybe we can hire her and she can finish her classes online,” he casually mentioned to Professor Nelson with a smile.
The Fall Season State Softball Tournament drew 16 teams to play at Killian Field, Oct. 20 and 21. There were four classifications with four teams per class.
Semifinals were played on Friday afternoon on four fields, according to Jason West, communication director for MSHSAA. The third-place games were played Thursday night, and then Saturday featured the four championship games on the main field.
“This weekend with the Evangel students has gone well,” said West. “While we always need local help, this is the only relationship we have with a university like this, statewide.”
“And it is a nice template looking forward,” added Long.
Evangel’s Kinesiology Department
The sport management program at Evangel University prepares students interested in the business and operations of professional and collegiate sports. A sport management degree provides the reality of working in sports, along with the flexibility of a balanced education based on business as it applies to athletics.
The Kinesiology Department offers allied health students the opportunity to learn the art of patient care and injury prevention with pre-professional programs in athletic training, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
The department also offer majors in exercise science and physical education (with K-12 certification).
For additional information on Evangel’s Kinesiology Department, contact Ann Steketee at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7387.