The Charger Blog

Seniors Gain Hands-On Experience Participating in Sports Sales Competition

With the support of their alumni mentors, two sport management majors recently took part in the National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship, an opportunity that enabled them to explore sales while networking with industry professionals.

May 4, 2023

By Bella Lagattolla '23, '24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23,'24 MBA

Bella Lagattolla '23,'24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23, '24 MBA
Bella Lagattolla '23, '24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23, '24 MBA were among the students who took part in the event.

Sport management students recently had the support of University alumni Collin Hill '18 and Logan Hill '19 as they took part in a unique and immersive experience that enabled them to hone their sports-sales skills. The National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship (NCSSC) is an opportunity for students to compete against each other as they showcase their sales skills. The tournament, set up as a single elimination tournament bracket, is similar to March Madness.

While competing, Bella Lagattolla '23, '24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23,' 24 MBA built their sales skills, as well as their confidence, and enjoyed important networking opportunities. Last year, Taylor Geaglone '22 made it all the way to the National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship in Atlanta, also with guidance from alumni mentors.

"I am extremely proud of our sport management students," said Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., chair of the University's Sport Management Department. "Their perseverance, work ethic, industry readiness, and professionalism impressed professionals from the sport industry. Bella and Emily wowed the judges and hiring managers at the National Sport Sales Championship."

Below, Lagattolla and Bogdanowicz reflect on the experience.

Isabella "Bella" Lagattolla '23, '24 MBA

Participating in the NCSSC is the best thing I have done thus far in my college career. It allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and to try out something new, while learning so much – not only about sales, but about myself along the way.

This competition gave me the opportunity to meet and chat with so many industry professionals, learn about their personal experiences, and hear some of their advice, and I gained tons of exposure to help start my career on the right foot after graduation.

When I started training for the qualifier round last fall, I had zero sales experience, and I was extremely anxious about the process. I was very uncomfortable talking to people in such a manner, and I had no desire to compete out of fear that I'd make a fool of myself. During training sessions, I was very timid and really didn't want to participate, but my teammates and the alumni who were training us really helped me feel more comfortable and less awkward about it.

As time went on and the spring semester came closer, Collin and Logan Hill really became like our best friends. Emily and I spent countless hours with them practicing our selling, talking about our days and what went well or could have gone better, and we had tons of laughs together. They believed in us when we didn't have enough confidence in our abilities, and they supported us through every step of the championship. We would never have been so successful if it weren't for the countless hours of their free time that they dedicated toward helping us be as prepared as possible.

This competition helped me discover a new talent for ticket sales and taught me that I'm capable of far more than I give myself credit for. I've always been my own biggest critic, and I'm always pushing myself to be the best because I fear that my skills are not good enough. I've learned that I need to trust in my knowledge and abilities, and that as long as I apply myself and work hard, I'll find success.

Emily Bogdanowicz '23,' 24 MBA
Bella Lagattolla '23,'24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23, '24 MBA
Bella Lagattolla '23,'24 MBA (left) and Emily Bogdanowicz '23, '24 MBA at the event.

The National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship (NCSSC) is a sales competition based on a prompted situation. Within sports sales, there were two divisions: ticket sales and corporate partnerships. I participated in the ticket-sales division where I was tasked with selling Atlanta Hawks tickets to a prospective buyer. We were given the buyer profile ahead of time and were able to prepare in the weeks ahead of the competition.

There were two rounds, the qualifier and the finals. In the qualifier, each university can enter four participants to compete in a Zoom sales call between the seller (participant) and the buyer (industry professional). The finals then take place in Atlanta, Georgia, where a whole day is dedicated to the competition. The finals consist of the top two students from each university in a single elimination bracket. There are 64 participants at the start, which slowly whittled down until we had a winner.

I had been looking forward to competing in the NCSSC since about this time last year. We had a student compete last year who ended up going to the Championship in Atlanta, and I remember thinking to myself, "Why am I not doing this?" Come to find out, the championship was only for seniors, so I knew I would get my chance in the fall.

Last summer, Dr. Mumcu, reached out to me, along with a couple of other students, asking if we were interested in competing. I immediately said yes and was looking forward to the long road ahead. Dr. Mumcu brought in some University alumni who had experience working in sales within the industry. We were meeting multiple times a week, going over the sales process and practicing cold calls to prepare for the qualifier in the fall.

The qualifier consisted of a recorded 20-minute Zoom call in which the buyer who was supposed to be "Pat," a lawyer from Atlanta. There were more than 130 students who participated in the qualifier, and out of those people, I placed 30th overall. It wasn't until mid-December that, come to find out, the top two students from each university get to go to the finals. Luckily, I was one of those students.

"This experience made me excited to enter the sport industry and to work alongside so many like-minded individuals." Emily Bogdanowicz '23,' 24 MBA

The journey did not end there. We kept practicing both in person and online with alumni and other industry professionals we had networked with. Throughout the process, we had set a goal for ourselves that we wanted to make the top 16 out of 64 in the finals.

On the day of the competition, we were nervous but excited to put our sales training into action. We were excited we made it past the first round, into the round of 32, then into the "Sweet 16," and then surpassing our goal and making it to the "Elite 8." It was in this round that I was eliminated, and the student who beat me – only by one point I might add – went on to win the entire competition.

Out of 64 participants, I placed 5th overall, which I am very proud of. All of my hard work in honing my sales skills and countless hours of practice worked out for me in the long run.

The next day was interviews, with the various employers talking about their inside-sales programs and the positions they were hoping to fill for the coming summer. Although I am returning to the University for grad school in the fall, I did receive an outstanding offer from the Washington Commanders on their ticket sales team for after I graduate in 2024.

Overall, the Championship was a phenomenal experience. I'm glad I got to learn and grow new skills, as well as meet so many different people with vast backgrounds. This experience made me excited to enter the sport industry and to work alongside so many like-minded individuals.

Bella Lagattolla '23, '24 MBA and Emily Bogdanowicz '23,' 24 MBA are sport management majors at the University of New Haven who will begin pursuing their MBAs in the fall.