Interning with the Xolos: Building Relationships in the United States

Sarah Nollner (SMBA ’15) has been interning with Club Tijuana de Xoloitzcuintles (Xolos) in their United States marketing efforts since February. Recently, she helped organize a soccer clinic between the Xolos and the San Diego State Men’s Soccer team.

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When I first entered the San Diego State Sports MBA program in January, I knew that I wanted to work in the field of marketing, preferably in soccer. Soon after we got started with classes, I reached out to Walter Franco (SMBA’14) who worked for Club Tijuana de Xoloitzcuintles, a professional soccer team in Tijuana last year. Ultimately, he assisted in helping me begin my internship with the team back in February.

Sarha Nollner (far right) helped organize a clinic between the San Diego State Men's Soccer team the Xolos de Tijuana.
Sarha Nollner (far right) helped organize a clinic between the San Diego State Men’s Soccer team the Xolos de Tijuana.

As an intern, I mainly have worked helping maintain the English language social media accounts and prepare corporate sponsorship packages to present to companies in the United States. In addition to these responsibilities, I wanted to plan something new that the team had not done before. After attending a San Diego State Men’s Soccer game with a few classmates, I thought that the Xolos could benefit from partnering with the men’s soccer team. It seemed like a perfect fit because the Xolos are looking for new ways to reach the English-speaking soccer fans, and secondly, one of Club Tijuana’s players and frequent player on the USMNT, Joe Corona, played for the Aztecs during his college career.

I met with representatives from the Xolos and they thought that a partnership with SDSU sounded like a great idea. I then contacted Lev Kirchner, the head coach of SDSU Men’s Soccer team, and set up a similar meeting with them to discuss some ideas on how we could set up a partnership. He was interested in the idea and thought that it would be a great opportunity to have the Xolos coaches help with an upcoming soccer clinic for high school players on October 2 before the Aztecs hosted the UCLA Bruins.

In the weeks preceding the clinic, I remained in contact with Sami Nedjar, assistant coach and clinic coordinator at SDSU, and worked as a liaison between the two teams to promote the clinic through social media and press releases. We also had to make sure that the clinic would be in compliance with NCAA rules since there are regulations on what professional teams can and cannot do with colleges. With those tasks completed, we were ready for the clinic to take place. The Xolos brought three coaches from the team’s youth academies to assist the SDSU coaches and players in running the clinic. The team also brought team jerseys and Xolos soccer balls to hand out to the participants along with the water bottles and shirts that the clinic sponsor, the National Guard, handed out.

High school students from the San Diego area were able to take part in the clinic.
High school students from the San Diego area were able to take part in the clinic.

The clinic was a success and around 50 local high school players showing up. Both San Diego State and Club Tijuana were pleased with the clinic and the newly formed relationship between the two teams. On October 19, there will be another similar clinic held at SDSU prior to the home match against the Washington Huskies. Hopefully these clinics will be just the beginning of a lasting relationship.

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