By Ryan Maguire, Tatijana Bowman, Blair Brewer, Tatum Lockett & Yawen You
Last week, a number of SMBA 2019 students had the unique opportunity to volunteer at the 72nd annual Salute to Champions awards gala, hosted by the San Diego Hall of Champions. The event has a longstanding tradition of bringing together athletes with ties to the San Diego area, and recognizing them for their athletic excellence, whether it be at the high school, college or professional level. In addition to the awards ceremony itself, there was a portion of the event dedicated to celebrated outstanding individual and team accomplishments, as well as the Stars of the Month and Stars of the Year.
While the students weren’t involved in the planning process of the event, they were able to assist with event setup, registration and backstage coordination, under the supervision of the Director of Special Events, Sarah Petitpierre-Branco. With many recognizable San Diegans from the sports industry onsite, the behind-the-scenes access was something that genuinely excited all of us.
Main takeaways from each student include:
- Ryan Maguire: Organization aside, I was most impressed by how supportive the San Diego community is for it’s athletes, regardless of sport or level. The room was filled with standout high school and college athletes, as well as former professional athletes, all of whom were very supportive of one another. Being a part of an event like that was really special and helped to reinforce why San Diego is such a great sports community.
- Tatum Lockett: With wanting to pursue a career in event planning, being able to assist the with behind-the-scenes work and understanding what roles are most important during the event itself was the best part for me. Also, running around and keeping the event ahead of schedule was beautiful because prior events I’ve worked were usually on-time or behind schedule.
- Tatijana Bowman: I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of athletic talent in the San Diego market and the pride all of the athletes have in the city of San Diego, many of whom credited the community as an integral part of their success.
- Yawen You: It was my first time working a sporting event, so it was really inspiring to meet all the people who work with a great passion in the sports industry. I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about how to maintain and run an event from behind the stage. I am glad that I can be a part of this community and help to support what the talented people in the sports industry do.
- Blair Brewer: I was impressed with the organization of the event itself. They had everything planned out to a tee and it made it very easy for us as volunteers. It was great to see all the behind-the-scenes effort and planning that goes into such a prestigious and big event. It was also great to see how big of a sports city San Diego is and the many opportunities to work in sports within this market.
In addition to these key takeaways, a major highlight of the night for the SMBA students was the opportunity to meet Padres’ Executive Chairman, Ron Fowler, just moments after he accepted the award for the 2017 Community Champion. Ron Fowler has had such an incredible impact on the San Diego community, both in sport and philanthropy, so having the opportunity to see him receive his award was an incredible experience. Also, once we mentioned that we were sports business students in the Fowler School of Business at San Diego State University, he was more than happy to take a picture with us. Overall, we walked away feeling very honored and excited to have been a part of this annual event, and look forward to seeing how it grows and impacts the San Diego community moving forward.