Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
WVU’s Sport Management degree is a blended, or hybrid, program which means students complete the majority of the work online, and come to the WVU campus in Morgantown during a two-week period over two consecutive summers.
That worked out well for Steve, since he works full-time and puts in a lot of hours with his marketing job at Longwood. He had never taken online classes before, and was a little unsure at first.
“It’s unfamiliar and you have to learn the style of it, but I was actually surprised that it was a lot more manageable than I thought it was going to be,” he said.
“The structure of the online classes made it really easy to adapt and I was able to get into a routine that made the time management much easier.”
Steve just finished the research for his capstone project, which is titled “The Influence of Technology on the Fan Experience.” “It’s a fun one,” he said. “Things are going all digital now. So I’m looking at fans going to a game and what elements and technological advancements in the facility enhance their experience.”
He has Dr. Gonzalo Bravo at WVU to thank for teaching him how to research effectively.
“It’s definitely a different world from that of an undergrad,” he said. “You have to think for yourself, as opposed to having someone there to hold your hand. The professors here really challenge us to think differently. That’s something you have to learn in this field.”
What has Steve enjoyed the most about the program?
“It has definitely been my classmates, first and foremost,” he said. “I learn a lot from them and I like to think they learn a lot from me too."
“We come from different backgrounds, which is is the best thing about our summer classes. That makes for meaningful discussions.” His advice to other students entering this program is to have fun and step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
“You may face some difficult challenges along your journey, but it’s going to make you better and that’s why you’re doing it,” he said.
“Just soak up everything and learn as much as you can.”
I Could Do This For a Living
Steve grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and his parents were both athletes, so he grew up playing sports. “I was the mascot at James Madison University as an undergraduate. As the Duke Dog I wore a big dog costume with a crown and a cape,” he said. “I worked with the Cheerleading program and got involved with college athletics, working events and marketing activities. That’s where I really got involved with collegiate sports and fell in love with Game Day and thought ‘I could do this for a living.’ It’s all about creating a memorable experience for people.”
After graduating from JMU with a degree in Sport and Recreation Management, Steve started working at Longwood as an athletic marketing assistant, but he knew that in order to progress his career, he needed to get a post-graduate degree. “I had a few friends and colleagues who had been through the online Sport Management program at WVU, and they influenced me to start looking at WVU’s program” he said.
“West Virginia is a very, very good school! And the Sport Management program is nationally ranked—in the Top Ten again this year—and one of the 50 top programs in the world. You want to be in that company."
“For me, adding West Virginia to my resume is a very big part of my goal to get to a Power Five level,” he said. “Everybody knows West Virginia. There’s a great alumni network and great vibes and I want to be part of that.”
“Every course I have taken in the last year has had some sort of video chat, discussion board, or collaboration. It is also helpful that many of us follow the same path in the program, so many of us who started together will finish together.”
You’ve Got to Have a Vision
Who wears argyle pants in the school colors, a little bow tie, and rolls around the basketball court in heelys, shooting T-shirts to the audience out of a cannon?
No, it’s not WVU President Gordon Gee, but good guess.
It’s Lancer Pants!
“Lancer Pants” is how WVU graduate student Steve Robertson is known at Longwood University in Virginia, where he is director of Marketing and Fan Engagement, and where he enjoys entertaining people.
He created this persona for himself, since Longwood’s mascot is the Lancer.
“I serve as our on-court MC and now more people know me as Lancer Pants than my actual real name,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.” Now finishing up his final year in WVU’s online Sport Management program, Steve seems to have his future all planned out. He says you’ve got to have a vision to get where you want to be.
He wants to work for a Power Five institution and his long-term goal is to become an athletic director. “I’m excited to see what opportunities will come from having this degree,” he said.