A group of sport management students will spend the upcoming spring break at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The group’s visit will be in conjunction with the Team USA Symposium, an event that bills itself as “the only conference of its kind that provides an in-depth look at the functions and operations of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
In addition to hearing from employees who work for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies, the students — 10 sport management majors and one minor — will network with staff, attend a career and internship fair, and go up against other colleges and universities in a case study competition.
Lynchburg will field two three-person teams in the competition, which is judged by USOPC leaders. “The case study competition asks students to grapple with contemporary issues of the Olympic Movement,” Dr. Lindsay Parks Pieper, associate professor of sport management, said. “USOPC leaders select a problem they currently face and ask students to come up with solutions.
“For example, last year the case study competition involved esports. … The ultimate question for the students was ‘Is there merit in considering esports as a potential sport in the Olympic Movement?’ Students also had to identify potential obstacles in accepting or denying esports. Each team has 15 minutes to orally make its case, followed by five minutes of questions.”
To get ready for the trip, the students are working with Lynchburg’s Career and Professionalism Center to prepare resumes, practice networking, and participate in a LinkedIn workshop. They’re also reading books and articles related to the Olympic and Paralympic movements to prepare for the case study competition.
After the symposium, the group will stay an additional day for sessions designed just for them.
“This was an arrangement I made with the USOPC marketing and media assistant,” Pieper said. “We wanted to combine the benefits of the Team Symposium, including the networking reception and case study competition, as well as the perks of an individualized session.”
This is the first time students and faculty from the University of Lynchburg’s sport management program have visited the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, but it won’t be the last. Pieper, who has written about gender in the Olympics, said her goal is to take a group to Colorado Springs every other year, to coincide with Olympic years.
While in Colorado Springs, Lynchburg students and faculty will stay at the training center, giving them the opportunity to eat, sleep, and work out in the same facilities as Olympic and Paralympic athletes. “Staying onsite has huge significance to me,” said Anthony McAvoy ’20, a sport management minor whose goal is to be a sports play-by-play or color commentator.
“Not many people can ever say they have stayed in the Olympic Village or training facility. I have always been a gigantic fan of the Olympics and would have never imagined that I would have this sort of opportunity.”