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Bringing Golf Tourney to Life Builds Biz Skills
Only two of them actually golf, but all 12 students in Amanda Garcia’s Event Management and Promotions capstone course are shooting for a hole-in-one with their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser.
Their goal is to raise $5,000 to $7,000 for the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, which serves 4,200 students annually in the Chicopee area. It’s a big goal, especially because the amount will be matched. “The Boys & Girls Club has a matching sponsor for their capital campaign, so anything we raise will be doubled,” Garcia said.
Garcia, an assistant professor of accounting at Elms College, holds a CPA and an MSA. Under her guidance, this project helps prepare the students both for the business world and for service to others. “They’re in charge, really,” Garcia said. “They’re running it like a real charity committee.”
It’s an important experience for business students, who are all required to take a capstone course before graduation. This one is designed for sports management majors, Garcia noted. “A capstone course should provide the sports management students an opportunity to put into action all of the different aspects of sports management that they have learned in major courses,” she said. “Putting on an actual event, in this case a golf tournament, is a perfect way for the students to gain hands-on experience and application of their skills.”
This particular course also ties into Elms’ mission and values, she added. “We are able to provide a great learning opportunity for the students and also instill the value of giving back to the community by selecting a local charity to benefit from the event proceeds.
“I think the real benefit of this course is that students feel compelled to do their very best, because the charity and other people are counting on them. I love how that motivates the students to really excel.”
When the class ends, the students will carry away a range of practical skills and experiences, too: mastery of new computer programs, teamwork within and across committees, project management, professionalism and more.
The project’s co-chairs are Jessica Colson and Anthony Nitri, both senior sports management majors from Agawam, Massachusetts. They’re leading the other students -- who work in groups to cover marketing, sales and operations -- to see this event from conception through execution.
Q: Why did you choose this charity?
Colson: The Boys & Girls Club in general has always been a staple of the community, and because we’re in Chicopee, we wanted to give back to a good local cause.
Nitri: Most of us have visited a Boys & Girls Club growing up, so it makes sense to support a Boys & Girls Club. And there happens to be one in Chicopee, so it all just came together.
Q: This was an event that was held in past years but had faded away. Why did you choose to resurrect it?
Nitri: It seems like everyone loves to golf, so we wanted to put on a golf tournament and add a fun Cinco de Mayo theme to it.
Colson: As far as this being a capstone class for the business department, a golf tournament incorporates all aspects of what we’ve learned up to this point: marketing, management, promotions, things that we have learned and can now enact in one event.
Nitri: It’s a real-life scenario for us. You learn how to supervise, how to be professional, and so on.
Q: What other projects did you consider before deciding on this one?
Nitri: We went with the golf tournament from the beginning, because we knew we had a mentor with our professor. She has experience in organizing this kind of event, so she’s been passing her knowledge to us. But we’re adding other events during the tournament -- like putting contests or longest-drive contests or “spin around the sombrero” or raffles -- so it’s not just the tournament. We do have to think about fun ways to up our revenue along the course, so that we can pass that along to the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club.
Q: How will you make this event special for the golfers?
Colson: We think the Cinco de Mayo theme will be a fun, energetic way to get people excited and thinking about spring. It’s certainly going to be one of the first tournaments of the season.
Garcia: Every golfer gets a sombrero, a cup and a margarita, and a themed dinner with quesadillas and tacos. It’s a little different from most golf tournaments.
Q: What’s been your favorite part of the project so far?
Nitri: It might sound odd, but: contacting people. Being a student, talking to other students on campus, it’s very informal, but talking to business people and trying to get them to donate or sponsor or participate, you expand your business communication skills.
And it’s kind of fun to see yourself grow up, and learn how to “speak business” and be very professional. You have to explain what you’re doing so that they understand it; it’s not like talking to a student, where you can say, “Hey, come do this.” You have to approach them very professionally.
Colson: My favourite part has been seeing it all come together. At the beginning, it was hard to see the bigger picture, but now we have this nice poster and we’re getting golfers to sign up for the tournament, so as we progress it’s exciting to see foursomes join or people donate.
Q: What do you, as students, get out of a project like this?
Nitri: It’s a real-life scenario. We’re almost all seniors here, so when we go to apply for a job, we’ll have experience delegating assignments, communicating with people -- almost being a manager, in a sense. Everyone’s in different committees, so everyone has to manage their own time. We’re starting to get into the business world now, so it’s a very good example of how life is going to be.
Also, a lot of people come out of their shells. In a class like this, everyone has to contact businesses or potential participants, so it’s cool to see people come out of their shells, getting people on the phone to participate or sponsor or donate.
Colson: I agree. It’s a very good representation, almost a simulation, of something that would happen in the real world. And it’s also a great resume-booster: You can say you planned a whole golf tournament in your senior year of college. I think that would impress any business.
Seven weeks into the project, the students are well on their way to meeting their goal -- they have already signed up 61 participants, doubling the number in just a week. To reserve your spot in the tournament, contact Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org. The event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 4, at The Orchards in South Hadley, Massachusetts. All proceeds will go toward renovations at the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club. The cost for participants is $110 per player; an early-bird discount for foursomes, available until April 10, is $440 per foursome.