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Sports Administration students participate in virtual sales academy

Ohio University and the Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball Club are conducting a virtual sales academy on campus with OHIO Sports Administration students and will select five students to intern remotely with the Growlers, of Kalamazoo, Mich.

The project will consist of selected students from the SASM 4400 Sport Ticket Sales and Systems class and interested students from the Sports Business Association.  

“Five students will get an unbelievable experience as interns who do not need to leave Athens and will be supervised virtually by the Growlers,” said Jim Kahler, executive-in-residence with the College of Business’ Department of Sports Administration. “Many of our students cannot afford to leave campus and take on additional rent to gain valuable experience.”

Training sessions began on Nov. 2, and training/virtual interviews will continue later in the month. Kahler said the students go through three hours of sales training and will be required to make two separate sales demonstration videos. All participating students will receive a certificate of completion from the Growlers. The five students chosen to intern will be announced in December and will begin making sales calls prior to the winter break.

“This is exactly the type of innovative partnership that OHIO Sports Administration is known for,” said Jim Strode, Robert H. Freeman associate professor, chair of the Department of Sports Administration and director of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Business. “Driven by both our faculty and students, this partnership with the Kalamazoo Growlers will equip our students with the necessary knowledge and skills that will make them attractive in the sports marketplace.”

Growlers owner Brian Colopy and Corporate Partnerships Director CJ Hurley will lead the project from Kalamazoo. Both are OHIO alumni. 

Colopy, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Administration in 2004 and an MBA in 2009, said the students will gain experience working with and handling issues with fans. 

“It gives teams and leagues access to students from universities not in their hometown and gives students that same access and experiences they can’t get in a classroom,” Colopy said. 

Hurley, who graduated with a certificate in Sports Management and Sales, beta-tested the idea in 2019 as a virtual inside/groups ticket representative with the Growlers. He developed a system to do ticket sales calls from Athens and used Google Voice in order to maintain his Kalamazoo area code. 

“I made 80+ cold-calls per day from my dorm room selling group outings and mini plans,” Hurley said. “I balanced classes, clubs, life, and the calling, and it worked great.”

Hurley approached Kahler in August, and they later came up with the virtual sales academy. Hurley was looking for a way to give back to OHIO. 

“When I was at Ohio University, I was told hands-on experience is so vitally important to getting internships/jobs in the sports industry, '' Hurley said. “I volunteered/interned everywhere I possibly could in order to gain as many hands-on experiences as possible while adding numbers to my resume.” 

November 16, 2021
Isaac Miller