PT gives way to sports marketing

Unlike Kendra, Ryan Forney (Class of ’11) knew exactly what he wanted to major in at UIndy. The nationally ranked physical therapy program and Greyhound football provided the attraction. Ryan, of Crown Point, Indiana, had sought a university where he could balance a challenging major and still continue to compete athletically. He quickly discovered a world of academic opportunities at his doorstep when he started at UIndy.

But Ryan went through a couple of majors before settling on Sports Management, which teaches students about the business of sports with an assist from partnerships with various sports organizations in Indianapolis. Ryan believes Sports Management offers three features impossible to pass up.

“You’re always being in or around the sports industry, there are awesome internship opportunities, and you get great hands-on classroom experiences,” he says.

Last spring Ryan was able to experience the exciting professional basketball world as a corporate intern with the Pacers, assisting with sponsor activities and events. Ryan helped plan and coordinate receptions and game night entertainment to keep corporate donors excited about the Pacers. And when he wasn’t focusing on the needs of the Pacers’ clients, he was working with staff to create opportunities for the sponsorship sales and promotions areas.

But “Nothing beats the game day experience with the Pacers,” he says. Working in the front office gave him the opportunity to feel connected to the competitive world of sports on a daily basis.

Ryan found that his particular home court advantage was UIndy’s well- connected faculty and the classroom preparation he received. According to Ryan, he wouldn’t have snagged his front office internship without the help and referral of professor Jennifer Vansickle.

“I was blessed with the opportunity to intern at Pacers Sports and Entertainment as a corporate partnership intern,” Ryan says. “I can thank Dr. VanSickle for her recommendation and all the experiences she gives us in her classes.”

Ryan’s Organizational Leadership/Sport class, for example, gave him confidence and was a perfect training ground for learning how to run a major sporting event. The class focused on leadership skills and competencies of sports leaders. Ryan and his classmates tested their own leadership abilities by partnering with the Special Olympics state basketball tourney.

“We were in charge of creating and running it from bottom to top,” Ryan says. The 2010 Special Olympics Indiana State Youth Basketball Tournament brought more than 300 young athletes to the University of Indianapolis campus.

Ryan’s class made the logistical arrangements on campus, devel-oped a schedule for the day, recruit-ed scores of volunteers, and org- anized side events to entertain guests between games.