Stepping Up to the Sport Business Plate

July 21, 2016

Erin SimmonsInspiring Stories

Stepping Up to the Sports Business Plate

Erin Simmons ’16 is Excited to be Working for Cleveland Cavaliers

By: Jamie Eyssen '16 

It is always an exciting opportunity when you are able to turn a passion into a career, something that Erin Simmons ’16 experienced when she chose to go into the field of sport business.

“I have been an athlete since kindergarten so sports have always been in my life,” Simmons said. “The fact that you can actually make a career out of it is what interested me the most.”

Although she has always had a passion for athletics, Simmons came onto campus her freshman year at the University of Mount Union as a biology major looking to pursue a career in education. However, it did not take her long to find herself in the sport business program at Mount Union.

“After meeting kids from other sport business programs, you realize how good you have it here at Mount,” Simmons said. “The professors do a really good job of actually getting us out in the industry and working with people who are doing things that we might be doing when we graduate.”

One way that Simmons and other students in the sport business program have received hands-on experience is through the annual Sport Sales Workshop and Job Fair hosted by the sport business program every year in Cleveland, Ohio. During the workshop, students have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions to learn more about the field and network with individuals in the profession. Simmons attended the workshop for two years and then was able to assist Dr. Jim Kadlecek, the workshop director and associate professor of human performance and sport business at Mount Union, in running the workshop this past winter.

“There are so many industry professionals who come to the event from all over the country,” Simmons said. “It allows everyone to meet people in the industry and start making those connections that help them out later on.”

It was through her connections formed at the workshop that Simmons was offered a full-time job opportunity with the Cleveland Cavaliers upon graduation in May. Previously, the workshop helped Simmons secure internship positions with the Cleveland Gladiators and the Canton Charge, both of which helped lead her to her current position with the Cavaliers.

“It was pretty much all from the sport sales workshop,” Simmons said. “The Cavs organization is a great one and I have gotten to know a lot of people up there already. Being able to have the opportunity to work for the Cavs is just really exciting.”

In addition to attending the workshop, Simmons gained experience in the industry through various classroom projects. All of these projects have given Simmons the hands-on experience necessary for entering the sport business field. Simmons’ favorite experience was a corporate partnership project through which her group put together a partnership proposal that they pitched directly to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Our pitch was about a partner whom they were actually trying to secure so they could take some of our ideas and actually use them,” Simmons said. “We pitched it to their partnership people, which made it very nerve wracking, but once it was over I was like ‘Wow, I really just did that.’”

Not only does Simmons know how important hands-on experience in the classroom can be, she also knows how crucial being involved outside the classroom will be to her future career. Through working with the Sport Marketing Association, she has had the opportunity to travel to different events in Atlanta, Georgia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Simmons has also interned for the National Sports Forum in Cincinnati, Ohio and Portland, Oregon. She credits her exceptional professors in the sport business program for leading her to these opportunities.

“You have to use your professors as a resource,” Simmons said. “They are there to help you. If there is somebody that you want to get to know in the sports industry, one of them will know him or her or know someone who knows them.”

Not only is Simmons’ plate full with her passion for the sports sales industry; she was a starting pitcher for the Mount Union softball team. She said her involvement in athletics helped set her apart in her academic field as well.

“When you go to interviews with these teams, they look for athletes, especially for sales,” Simmons said. “They look for somebody who is coachable and if you have been an athlete throughout college you are going to have that trait.”

Leadership is another important trait that Simmons has learned through softball.

“The field of sports is very competitive and there are a lot of people now trying to get into the industry,” Simmons said. “Being able to stand out through your leadership is definitely important and it will help you move up through any organization.”

As for her future goals, Simmons doesn’t fail to include Mount Union in her plans.

“I want to be able to give back to the sport business program,” Simmons said. “Alumni come back all the time and we have some top-level people in the industry now. I eventually want to be able to do that as well and tell my story to students and say ‘you can do it too.’”

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