A vision of limitless opportunities within the sports industry inspired a student in the College’s Masters in Sports Management program to create an organization to support student networking and career goals.
Lauren Burchfield, a master’s program in sports management with an emphasis on comprehensive management of the sports industry, says she formed the Sports Leadership and Development Association for graduate students and others with a keen interest in establishing a solid career path.
“I created the concept from my personal research while looking to learn more about the industry. By attending sports conferences, seminars, requesting informational interviews and volunteering, I have realized that the opportunities within the sports industry are endless, ”said Burchfield. “The insight and knowledge I gained allowed me to see opportunities from a different perspective. “
Justin Wartella, assistant professor of sports management education, says the new student-run association is an opportunity for the program to build on the community of online learners within virtual classrooms. “It allows our students to bond with their peers and to feel more connected to WVU, their teacher and our program. This will allow our online graduate students to participate in more opportunities for professional development and experiential learning, ”added Wartella.
“The Sport Leadership and Development Association would not exist without the vision and hard work of Lauren Burchfield, who came to me this summer to educate me on the potential of such an association. Lauren took the initiative to lead; she is the “founding mother” of the group. She showed her passion for it every day, working diligently with Dr Sean Bulger and the group to get it approved and make it work. She also recruited graduate students Aidan Nelson, Sarah Ghaffoor and Jesse Cruz to assist her in leadership roles.
Burchfield will be the chairman. Jesse Cruz will serve as Vice President, Sarah Ghaffoor as Secretary and Aidan Nelson as Treasurer and Social Media Officer. Wartella will act as an advisor to the club. “Lauren did a great job in defining and creating this association. I am happy to be part of the initial planning team. It’s a wonderful opportunity for other graduate students to expand their networking, ”said Ghaffoor.
The Berkeley, Ill. Native says the group’s goal is to share knowledge and support other graduate students. “The expectations of a graduate student are higher than those of first or second year students. We are supposed to be leaders based on our knowledge, ”said Burchfield. “Our career pursuit should not be about ‘close at hand’ careers, but rather a leadership role within the sports industry. Our efforts should have a positive influence on others and have a positive impact on the communities around us. ”
The group intends to create networking opportunities with sports business executives and career-minded individuals to provide career advice to members. “Through informational interviews, networking opportunities combined with career and leadership development, members will understand the expectations of hiring managers in support of the career goals and skills needed to meet those expectations. “said Burchfield.
Club leaders will stay abreast of changes in the sports industry through market research. The association will provide members with additional resources to help them in their personal and professional development. “The sole purpose of the association is to provide members with the knowledge and leadership skills that will set them apart from other applicants,” Burchfield added.
Regular meetings will include Sports Talk, monthly meetings based on a structured six-month plan. The informational collaboration will include interviews with sports executives as guest panelists with open-ended questions regarding their career path, leadership qualities and industry suggestions. Additionally, the group will offer a follow-up meeting, Sports Chat and Coffee, designed to allow members to connect, chat and build an industry-related network.
Members can look forward to a biannual industry-related professional event, Future Sports Leaders Combine, based on dedicated topics related to current sports trends. The event will provide an opportunity to virtually network with sports business leaders through collaborative sessions in the Zoom sub-committee rooms.
Burchfield says the Fall Future Sports Leaders Combine will be available only to members. The group will open the spring version to all WVU students. The association plans to offer the Future Sports Leaders Combine nationwide. “Those interested in the sports industry should have the opportunity to participate in an impactful networking and collaboration session without the limitations of location,” said Burchfield. “The ability to offer a hybrid event, with WVU hosting such a conference and providing a virtual setting, will create an endless flow of opportunities for students, guest panelists and the program. ”