Students get hands-on event management experience at World Equestrian Games
UofL student Per Svensson won't get paid for his work at the Alltech World Equestrian Games.
His job — keeping dozens of shuttle buses, cars and taxis on schedule as they enter and leave the Lexington-based, international event — isn't easy, but Svensson is enthusiastic nonetheless.
"I believe it is an incredible opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a major international sporting event," he said.
Svensson is one of 26 students who are working at the games Sept. 25 through Oct. 10 as part of a special class in UofL's Sport Administration program. The class gives students work experience — and college credit.
Most of the students are working in the transportation mall, a busy hub where buses continually come and go dispersing as many as 3,000 to 6,000 spectators at any given time.
"The idea is to give students a chance to get in the trenches and find out what it's really like to work behind the scenes at a major sporting event," said Anita Moorman, a professor who heads the program.
UofL created the class in partnership with Gameday Management Group, Inc., an international company that handles logistics and transportation for major sporting events. Gameday worked with Moorman and sport administration instructor Jason Simmons to assign jobs to the students, giving them exposure to event management, specifically the complex role of transportation. In addition to their duties at the event, the students also have class assignments and projects.
Such partnerships are becoming a hallmark of UofL's Sport Administration program, a unit within the College of Education and Human Development. In 2008 students worked at the Ryder Cup and plans already are underway to offer a class in conjunction with the 2011 Senior PGA Championship, which will be at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
Moorman said she has received positive feedback on student workers at the equestrian games.
"Gameday is thrilled with the students and have already identified several students they would like to work at the Super Bowl in 2011 and, hopefully, even the 2012 London Olympics," she said.
One of those students is Michael Clemons. He was put into a supervisory position at the World Equestrian Games and oversees more than 60 volunteers.
"It was somewhat stressful at first," said Clemons, a graduate Sport Administration student from Louisville who hopes to work in international sports.
"It has really opened my eyes to how important volunteers are to the success of an event. The process of working out the operational kinks has been one of my favorite parts of the position," he said.
Graduate student Mary Ann Vetter had a slightly different "favorite part" of working at the games.
"The most exciting thing to happen so far was meeting William Shatner on his way to the VIP lot," Vetter said.