Feature News

Sport management students bring SPIKE FEST to North Central campus

May 24, 2018

Sport management students brought a sport that is an institution at North Central to campus in a new way—as training for careers organizing sporting events and other components involved in the process.

Their project was for Sports Events and Facility Management, a new course that will become part of the sport management degree program when North Central moves to a semester-based calendar in 2019. Students were required to plan and execute an event of their own. The event chosen was a tournament of roundnet, popularized by the brand Spikeball, which was featured on an episode of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank” in 2015.

“We chose roundnet because it’s a new, trending sport with characteristics that make it possible to produce an event in a short period of time,” said Janine Arriola ’18, a sport management major. “Plus, it's a fun and easy game to learn. We also took into account our community and chose a sport that anyone, regardless of age or physical skill, can play.”

Students completed the event coordination process from the ground up; they had to interview with Jason Rice, assistant professor of kinesiology, for the position of event manager and an event name had to be decided before they even started organizing. 

Sport management students signing in teams to the event.

“The goal of the event and class was to apply classroom content and theory to a practical setting,” Rice said. “Students were divided into committees for sales, operations, athlete services and marketing based on their own experience and interest. Each committee had event responsibilities, spending the term working toward their goals.”

The tournament was open to players of all ages and skill levels, including beginner and amateur divisions so that casual and experienced players alike could be included. “The tournament hosted 45 teams, making it one of the largest independent roundnet tournaments in the country,” said Rice. “About half the teams were North Central students with the others traveling from Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana.”

Community participation was critical to the success of the event. Through their own outreach, students gathered hundreds of dollars of support from local partners such as Amber Waves Art of Hair Salon, Le Pain Quotidien, Everdine's Grilled Cheese Company, David's Tea, Naperville Running Company, Pinot's Pallets, Ultimate Ninjas, the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the 2018 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Sponsors helped with funding for awards and raffle prizes, generating even more revenue for the event.

“Our class walked around downtown Naperville visiting local shops and sent emails out to different sports organizations and companies, allowing students to build professional networks,” Arriola said. “The Naperville community was very generous with donations and we are truly grateful for its support.”

SPIKE FEST was a tremendous success based solely on the enjoyment of those who played as well as those who watched, but it was also profitable and an invaluable experience for the students seeking to do this kind of work professionally.

Students high-fiving after winning a roundnet game.

“The experience was fast moving; with the class being only 10 weeks long, efficiency was important,” said Arriola. “The momentum in the class gave us high energy with a positive vibe that created an amazing experience for both participants and onlookers.”

“Given the amount of time students had to produce this event, it was a tremendous success,” Rice said. “We produced an opportunity for our campus community to come together while also introducing North Central to others.”