Two years ago, when Suzannah Armentrout found out that the 2016 Ryder Cup would be held just 60 miles away from the Minnesota State Mankato campus, she started making phone calls.
As a professor in Sport Management, Armentrout immediately recognized that the proximity to such an event was an incredible opportunity for her students. So she called the first number she could find and left a message. Then she left another, and another. Eight voice mail messages and several emails later, she reached someone who helped put her in touch with the right person.
That’s how a group of 32 students from Armentrout’s Sport Tourism class ended up working with PGA and Ryder Cup staff for six long days in September and October. They did everything from taking tickets and providing security along the course to setting up for the opening and closing ceremonies and working with guests throughout the event.
“But even more than working at the event—which was tremendously valuable—they were able to apply the material they learned in the Sport Tourism class,” Armentrout says. “And some of them got internship opportunities and found out about possible jobs as well. So this was a big deal for them.”
Armentrout is already looking forward to pursuing future opportunities at other upcoming mega events—including Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018 and the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in 2019. But both she and the students were too tired to think much about either of those events quite yet.
“Those were some long days,” she says. “Some of the students were leaving Mankato at 3:30 a.m. to get there before 6 a.m. But it was worth it. It was amazing. Now we’re all catching up.” —Sara Gilbert Frederick