KOKOMO, Ind. – About a dozen Indiana University Kokomo students experienced what happens behind the scenes on game day, at one of the premiere college basketball arenas in the country.
Led by Ju Young (L.J.) Lee, assistant professor of sport and recreation management, the students met with leaders in IU’s athletic department, toured Assembly Hall, and had front-row seats in the student section for the Hoosiers’ win over Princeton.
“It wasn’t just enjoying a college basketball game, we witnessed every aspect of sport facility and event management,” said Lee. “The students enjoyed the experience and learned many different aspects of gameday operations, marketing, and media relations. They saw a world-class sports facility in Indiana and how it operates.”
The trip was part of the IU Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program, which provides students chances to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences.
In Bloomington, they met Laura Kneiss, assistant director of marketing, and J.D. Campbell, senior assistant athletic director for men’s basketball communications and special projects. Both explained their roles and how they work in a game day.
They discussed how they work with the media before, during, and after a game, how plans are made for each time out, what goes up on screens in the arena, when the band plays, and how they work with crews televising games, among other topics.
Tim Martin, Logansport, was impressed with how detailed the pre-planning is for each game, and how much work is involved.
“There’s a lot that happens in the background even before the game starts,” he said. “She’s constantly moving, from early on game day until a few hours after the game is over. People watching the game have no idea that all of this happens.”
Ezekiel Ryan, Logansport, said Kniess also gave them tips on how to get into sports-related businesses, which interested him since his goal is to be the general manager for a large sports organization.
“Going on this trip allowed us to get a feel for if this is what we want to do,” he said. “You may want to work in the sports industry, but not know exactly in what role. This gave us the chance to experience what is available.”
Campbell provided media credentials, giving them access to the press room and the Henke Spirit of ’76 Club Room – the premium seating area.
They appreciated that IU staff made time to meet with them on a game day, knowing how much they have to accomplish. Ryan added while many of them chose IU Kokomo because it is a small campus, it was fun to experience the larger flagship campus.
“For us to see the culture there is pretty cool,” he said. “The overall experience of what we got out of the trip was more than any of us could have expected. Going to Assembly Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s like the basketball Mecca of Indiana.”
The KEY program offers authentic learning experiences for students, starting with a supportive freshman learning community, and including travel, internships, connecting with people who work in their field, researching with faculty, and more.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.