Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's in a Name?

By Torrey Winchester (SMBA '11)

This weekend provided a good portion of SMBA VI an exciting opportunity to be a part of a PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in La Jolla: the Farmers Insurance Open. If you haven't been following golf, allow me to catch you up on news that doesn't involve Tiger Woods. Buick withdrew their sponsorship from a tour favorite event in light of recent economic conditions. Hoping to continue without a title sponsor, the event became the San Diego Open. The PGA caught a break when Farmers Insurance offered to take over title sponsorship just nine days before the first tee.

Finally equipped with a sponsor and an official name, the tournament teed off on January 28th. As I mentioned before, SMBA students were offered a special opportunity to volunteer at this event. Waiting lists to work at major PGA Tour events can often be quite long, so we were lucky to have such an opportunity--one of many we'll be on the receiving end of during 2010. Our positions as volunteers were with another major tournament sponsor: the Century Club of San Diego.

We were stationed at various locations from Torrey Pines Main Entrance to Qualcomm Stadium to Del Mar Show Park. At these locations, we were the first line of information for the tournament attendees and we were charged with encouraging guests to upgrade their tickets and spend some time at teh Century Club's lounge on the 15th Green. It wasn't a glamorous job (some people weren't even near the course), but it takes all kinds to make major events like this go 'round. So, we played our part and we were rewarded with weeklong passes to the event to use when we weren't working. Cha-ching!

It was especially exciting treat for me to finally see the storied Torrey Pines' golf course. My parents actually used this course to come up with the spelling for my name. Afraid that I'd rebel by choosing to go by "Vicky" if they named me Victoria, they looked to sidestep the problem and simply name me Torrey. Unaware of how one would spell that name, my dad offered T-O-R-R-E-Y having seen the course at various PGA events.

I loved walking around the course and seeing signs with MY NAME on them. Growing up far, far away from here (Tulsa, OK), no one ever correctly spelled my name. So, I considered this weekend my welcome to San Diego, a place where people would know how to spell my name.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

San Diego Padres' Open House

San Diego is home to beautiful beaches, delicious fish tacos, and one of the best ballparks in all of Major League Baseball: PETCO Park. Thanks to classmate (and current SMBA student) Roberto Castro, our class found out about and, subsequently, took part in the San Diego Padres' Open House tonight.

Starting at 6 PM, we were allowed to enter the front gates of PETCO Park. We snacked on free hot dogs, cookies, chips, and non-alcoholic drinks. A large crowd of current and potential season ticket holders took their seats in a blocked off section of the park as members of the Padres front office talked to the fans and even answered questions.

Among the speakers were Vice Chairman and CEO, Jeff Moorad, President and COO, Tom Garfinkel, new General Manager Jed Hoyer, and a handful of current Padres players. They all (particularly pitcher Chris Young and Manager Bud Black) discussed the upcoming season and how vital the fans will be to the team's success.

For a team that isn't predicted to reach the playoffs, it was amazing to see how many fans turned out to listen to the team. After the last question, everyone in attendance was allowed on the field. The Padres' mascot posed for pictures, Jed Hoyer answered more questions, players signed autographs, and guests slowly made their way to the ticket booth to inquire about season ticket packages.

Everyone had a great time, but even more compelling was how the Padres used an Open House, some free food, and front office interaction to garner more interest in season tickets.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Speakers: AJ Andrassy and Corey Price

After our second BA 652 - Statistics class, we had two guest speakers. While classes are a vital part of the Sports MBA, guest speakers bring real world lessons to the classroom and--of course--valuable networking.

Today's guests were AJ Andrassy from adidas Eyewear and Corey Price from IMG.

AJ is the Business Development Coordinator at adidas Eyewear and he explained that his job title entails a variety of things, including marketing, business planning, and selling. He spoke about three points we should be aware of during our time in the Sports MBA program:

1) Hard work

2) Keeping an open mind

3) Not being afraid to attach ourselves to a disaster

Corey spoke about these points, as well. He also explained how he's been able to use his SDSU Sports MBA (SDSU Sports MBA '09) to enter IMG's new business venture with Under Armour.

In the short time that we've been a part of this program, it has become clear that we will be given a number of opportunities over the course of the year and it's up to us to take advantage of them.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Aztec Basketball Game, First In-Game Assignment

One of the perks of attending the Sports MBA is the free tickets. Since the program works closely with the San Diego State Athletic department, it's easy for all of us to attend Aztec games at no charge. Of course, attending the games also means putting our Sports MBA skills to good use.

We were guests of the Athletic department for tonight's game against the #13 BYU Cougars and the goal was to note elements of the arena, in-game promotions, presentations, etc. that we thought could be improved. In a couple of weeks, members of the Athletic department will discuss the suggestions with us.

Anyway, they picked a great first game for us to see. Viejas Arena was sold-out and BYU was trying to defend the nation's second longest winning streak.

Unfortunately, despite the electrifying atmosphere, the Aztecs couldn't pull off the comeback and BYU escaped with an exciting 71-69 victory.

It was difficult to see improvements that the SDSU basketball games might need, but--as a group--we were able to note a few suggestions. With hope, the SDSU basketball team will continue to play as hard as the people off-the-court work to put on such a great event.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're Online

It's amazing how much talent and experience (as well as personality) the SDSU Sports MBA program is able to attract. Today, our bios became a fixture on the Sports MBA Home:

Bios for the SDSU Sports MBA Class of 2011

Friday, January 15, 2010

First Group Photo

The Sports MBA program also has a dress code. Since the program is designed to place you in the competitive sports' business, it only makes sense that we "dress for success".

During classes, it is required that we wear business casual clothing. This helps to keep a professional environment in the classroom.

On a few occassions, suits are required. This was the case today for our very first group photo...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Orientation for the Sports MBA

The first day of school is always intimidating. What do you wear? Who do you sit next to? Did you bring enough pens? Is your backpack as trendy as everyone else's?

The first day of the San Diego State Sports MBA is no different. But, fortunately, the staff made it easy on all thirty-four of us. After having to quit jobs, leave behind significant others, find apartments, travel cross-country in packed cars or flying from half-way around the world, and getting settled in to San Diego, the intimidation of the first day was inflated even more.

But, again, the staff for the San Diego State Sports MBA made things easy. Over the course of three days, we were given in-depth information about everything, including the following:

- Financial Aid
- Registration for Spring classes
- The Campus
- The Recreation Center
- Our Professors

Guest speakers walked us through the above and we were able to meet some of our upcoming teachers. At one point, we had past Sports MBA students talk about their experiences and they fielded questions from all of us.

While the anxiety was being lowered, we were also given a tentative schedule, a faculty/staff parking pass, and tickets to the next two SDSU basketball games. Of course, since this is an intensive program, we also found out about our first class project. But, all thirty-four of us had been assembled from around the world and here we were finally meeting one another at Orientation.

After the staff succesfully eliminated the first day of school jitters for all of us, it is not hard to see why the school motto is "Aztec for life."