Sport Management Majors Gain Real World Experience at the Winter X Games
Josie Schmidt ’22 and Nic Demichele ’22 recently returned from Aspen, CO, where they networked with industry professionals and gained meaningful work experience at the Winter X Games – even earning Impact Awards in recognition of their dedication for going the extra mile.
February 4, 2022
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Josie Schmidt ’22 recently took her first trip away from the East Coast. She attended the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, gaining hands-on experience doing the work she hopes to pursue after she graduates from the University.
A sport management major, Schmidt worked in guest services as part of the X Games student program. She rotated between working in the vaccination tents; checking guests for proof of vaccination and giving them wristbands for admission; and working at the competition, checking the credentials of guests entering private viewing areas and helping to control foot traffic to ensure that guests and athletes moved around safely.
“This opportunity remains unmatched by anything I have done before,” she said. “It felt like where I belonged – among a team of hardworking individuals with a shared passion for sports and business. The students I met are not just my team but are now my friends. The managers who offered advice and one of the most positive environments I have experienced are not just my past managers. They are connections who will keep in touch with future opportunities.”
‘Put their knowledge to practice’
Schmidt and her classmate Nic Demichele ’22 represented the University at the event, which is broadcast around the globe. The X Games also drew guests from around the world, and it enabled Schmidt and Demichele to connect with professionals from diverse companies in the field of sports, from ESPN to the Aspen Skiing Company.
“So many successful people work for these companies, and the chance to interact and get noticed by them has the opportunity to be life-changing,” said Demichele, a sport management major. “My managers were all very welcoming leaders, and I made friendships with other students from around the country who will also be breaking into the industry. This was a great opportunity because I have been watching and learning about events of this magnitude my entire life, and to actually be there working provided me with skills that could propel my future career.”
“Josie and Nic gained meaningful work experience at the best action sports event showcasing the biggest names in snowboarding and skiing,” added Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., the students’ professor. “These types of experiences have been less available with pandemic forcing the industry into virtual events. With this opportunity, they were able to put their knowledge to practice, network with industry professionals, and gain industry experience.”
‘I’m a big advocate of giving people a chance to shine’
Schmidt and Demichele were able to go to Aspen thanks to the support of Sheena Williams ’10 MBA, an adjunct professor of sport management at the University. Manager of business operations for the Winter X Games, Prof. Williams has a hybrid role within ESPN, and she handles X Games events and project management as well as financials for ESPN+ and ESPN Films.
“We have a supportive alumni network dedicated to our students’ professional development,” said Dr. Mumcu. “Sheena brought her knowledge and experience to the classroom during the fall semester, and through that interaction she created an industry experience for our students. I am grateful to alumni who consistently give back to our program in many ways.”
Prof. Williams says there are myriad programs for students with large event companies like the one at X Games, and she encourages other students to network and take advantage of them. Dr. Mumcu is grateful that Prof. Williams has already enabled some Chargers take advantage of such meaningful opportunities.
“I’m a big advocate of giving people a chance to shine and see where that opportunity takes them,” said Prof. Williams, who taught a Sport Finance course at the University this fall. “There is something truly special about Josie and Nic! They are always willing to help and go the extra mile. I hope they learned that opportunities come from always showing your best.”
‘The experiences that future employers want to see on your resume’
Demichele and Schmidt’s managers recognized their dedication with X Games Impact Awards, choosing them because they “went above and beyond the job description.”
“The story behind the award is very inspiring,” said Demichele. “It was created in honor of one of the most highly-regarded staff members who was diagnosed with a serious illness a few years ago.
“When she was battling her illness, she gave out bracelets at the X Games with a mission of having a positive impact on people’s lives,” he continued. “This award was then given to staff who had a positive impact on event guests. Fortunately, she overcame the illness, and I had the privilege of meeting this amazing and kind lady, which made the award even more of an honor.”
Demichele and Schmidt are grateful for the support of Prof. Williams, Dr. Mumcu, and the University’s Sport Management Department for enabling them to have such a meaningful experience as they began their final semester at the University. Schmidt says her time in Aspen was an incredible learning opportunity, and she encourages other students to take advantage of as many such opportunities as they can.
“This experience was invaluable to me,” she said. “These are the experiences that future employers want to see on your resume. My dream is to work for a professional team, and I could not ask for a better experience than working a professional event, even before graduating. Wearing credentials at the bottom of the superpipe at the same event I used to watch on TV at 8 years old is unfathomable to me.”