Co-Student of the Week for 1/29 – Paralympian turned MBA Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19)

By Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19)

Student of the Week Blog – January 29, 2017

After we tirelessly put on a successful Aztec Adaptive Sports Showcase, our classmates recognized Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19) and me as the co-students of the week for week two of our Sports MBA program. I was extremely honored to share this award with Ryan, but more importantly it gave our classmates a sense of what we were capable of and what level of work is to be expected by our program. The only way we will reach number one in the world, as a program, is if we strive to be the very best each day.  I believe we exhibited this attitude with our Showcase event. Although the event itself went well, there were so many lessons we learned and items that can improved upon. With our skills improving each day and weight of our Sports MBA classmates behind us, we believe we can reach our goal of starting the first collegiate adapted athletics program in California.

Hometown: San Diego, California

Favourite Sports Teams: Boston Celtics, San Diego State Aztecs

Favourite Sport(s) to Play: Track & Field, basketball, sitting volleyball

Favourite Sporting Event Attended: 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I admit I am extremely biased with this choice, as I was an athlete representing the United States in track and field at the 2016 Paralympic Games. When I walked into the opening ceremonies stadium and heard the crowd chanting “U.S.A….U.S.A.” I was filled with a sense of pride I had never felt before. It was honor representing my country and a privilege to be competing amongst the best Paralympians in the world.

Favourite Sports Movie: Remember the Titans

Favourite Sports Quote: One sports quote that sticks out the most to me is “Sports do not build character, they reveal it” by Heywood Broun.

What made you choose SDSU SMBA? The reason why I chose this Sports MBA program is because I really wanted to expand my knowledge base about the business aspects behind the sports we love. I am attempting to create a collegiate adapted athletics program at San Diego State University and I want to develop a foundation of business skills to help me achieve this goal. I realized for this program to go from a dream to reality I was going to need to more than passion.

What do you hope to achieve while you’re a student in this program? I hope to acquire the skills and connections necessary to build a collegiate adapted athletics program. This means connecting with as many adapted sports organizations at the community level and at colleges across the nation.  I will also be talking to as many coaches, players, managers, advocates and supporters of this community to understand their needs, what resources SDSU has to offer, and then focus on building the program. While acquiring that knowledge I also plan on utilizing as many concepts and skills in my classes then directing applying them to my project. With the help of the connections the Sports MBA program has, I believe I can learn something from everyone and create the best collegiate adapted athletics program in the nation.

Co-Student of the Week for 1/29 – Double Aztec Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19)

By Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19)

Student of the Week Blog – January 29, 2017

It was an honor being named by my peers as a co-student of the week, during our second week of classes! The program has been moving extremely quickly and everyone is doing a phenomenal job at keeping up with the classwork and networking events. I look forward to our group work assignments because everyone has a unique perspective that can lead to some out of the box thinking!

Hometown: San Carlos, CA

Favorite Sports Teams: San Francisco Giants, Golden State Warriors, San Jose Sharks

Favorite Sports to Play: Tennis, Golf, Basketball

Favorite Sporting Event Attended: SAP Open, US Open, Any Warriors/Giants game

Favorite Sports Movie: The Rookie

Favorite Sports Quote: “What makes something special is not what you have to gain, but you feel there is to lose.” –Andre Agassi

What Made you choose SDSU Sports MBA: I chose SDSU Sports MBA because I needed to learn the business skills necessary to continue building the first Collegiate level Adapted Athletics program here at San Diego State University. The amount of resources the Sports MBA program offers provides a great base of support to continue moving forward.

What do you hope to achieve as a student in this program? I want to build up my network/business skills necessary for running an Adapted Athletics Program. Finding the right balance between the classroom and entrepreneurial skills will be difficult, however I want to walk that fine line and maximize both.

Student of the Week Pete Abels (SMBA ’19) – North of the Border Strikes First

Each week, a Student of the Week is selected and he/she takes a seat in the front of the classroom for that week.  Our first Student of the Week for 2018 is Pete Abels (SMBA ’19) of Aurora, Ontario, Canada.  Pete was selected for his efforts to assist classmates with their Accounting homework while on-site at the MLS Media Day in Los Angeles during the first week of class.

It was honour for me to be nominated by my peers and named the first Student of the Week for the 2019 SMBA cohort. The first week was a bit of a whirlwind for all of us, with many in our group barely settling into our new homes in San Diego and getting to know 27 new faces who have chosen to embark on this educational journey in a passionate topic we all share: sports.

Once all the administrative responsibilities were taken care of at orientation, the class had the opportunity to meet with alumni Roberto Castro (SMBA ’11), Veronica Nogueira (SMBA ’09) and Pat Coghlan (SMBA ’14), who gave our group a behind the scenes look at Petco Park.

The field trips continued the second day with our group heading up to La Jolla and learning about the following week’s volunteering duties at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. We walked around and watched as course workers were building the framework for the activation and experiential venues on site. The morning also provided the class with the opportunity to have more formal introductions to each other and learn more about the exciting year ahead.

Thursday was our first taste of class with introductions to Finance with Professor Ryan and Sports Marketing with Dr. Dalakas. Judging by the fact the class elected to skip a five-minute break in each class, I think it’s easy to say we are all eager to learn more about putting our fan interests aside and begin to consume sports from a business perspective.

The roller coaster first week ended with 14 members of the class heading to Los Angeles to act as player handlers for the 2018 MLS Media and Marketing Tour.  We each had the responsibility of guiding a star player through a number of interviews and photo shoots, and more importantly watch as months of preparing (from the perspective of the league’s media team) unfolded in a tightly run schedule. It was amazing to see the set-up and careful coordination that went into organizing players, media and volunteers for an efficient operation.

I am extremely excited for the year ahead and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for everyone in this group!

Hometown: Aurora, Ontario (Canada)

Favourite Sports Teams: Ottawa Senators, Toronto Blue Jays

Favourite Sport(s) to Play: Golf, soccer, hockey

Favourite Sporting Event Attended: Game 5 2015 ALDS, otherwise known as the “bat-flip” game. Think I’ve watched the 7th inning on Youtube a couple dozen times and still get chills watching Bautista hit the home run.

Favourite Sports Movie: Caddyshack

Favourite Sports Quote: I’m not sure who first said it, but my high school football coach (Marcello Lio) would constantly remind us: “If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late; if you’re late, you’re forgotten.” I think it’s a pretty good reminder for the business world to be punctual, prepared and not to become just another employee.

What made you choose SDSU’s SMBA Program? I have played and watched sports passionately all my life. Having watched my father work for the two major sports television networks in Canada, now running his own event marketing and sponsorship company and going to work every day loving what he was doing, I knew that I wanted to find my way into the industry. When I was in the middle of writing my CPA exams, I started to explore next steps to find my way into sports, which led me down the path to more school. I subscribed to several school email lists and requested further information on sports specific MBAs. Within two days, Scott reached out to me and happened to be coming to Toronto the following to week meet with other prospective students. We had lunch and from that moment I was sold that the SDSU SMBA was my next step.

What do you hope to achieve while you’re a student in this program? I’m excited for all the opportunities within the industry that we as a group will get to explore. I really want to use this opportunity as a student to experience the different fields in the industry and focus my career path in an area where I know I will enjoy what I do.