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Alumni Newsletter Winter 2018

Executive in Residence, Jon Spoelstra

Summer 2017 | Message from Department Head

TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 4 6 8 10 11 12 14 16 17

Letter from the Chair Points of Pride Alumni Spotlight: Dan Exter Alumni Spotlight: Jim Foss & Joe Fitzgerald Alumni Spotlight: Demi Staluppi Young Alumni Advisory Council Executive in Residence Student Engagement A Decade with Octagon Alumni Updates

Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management @McCormackUMass UMass Sport Management Alumni Group

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR Greetings from Western MA! As you will see in the following pages, the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management continues to thrive. You’ll read about numerous alumni receiving prominent awards, current student-run activities, another successful career fair, an insightful visit by Executive-in-Residence, Jon Spoelstra, the creation of our young alumni council and much, much more. I would like to highlight a few important upcoming initiatives. First, through the tireless work of faculty member Will Norton, we will be transitioning to a new platform for our alumni database and will need your help to ensure its success. Improving the functionality and accuracy of our historical database will allow you, as a McCormack alumnus, to access valuable industry contacts filtered by a host of search criteria, and integrate with social career platforms such as LinkedIn. We are now accessing the tools and resources of UMass’ Alumni Association to help power our database platform and empower you with the tools you need. Our revitalized McCormack Alumni Database will remain specific to sport management, but we need your help to ensure industry information is up to date! A Department communication will be sent out shortly providing log-in links and information regarding updates to your profile. In the interim, feel free to email Molly McGuigan ( if you feel your alumni record needs updating. Second, UMass Gives will be coming up at the end of April. Your generous giving in the past years during this two-day fundraising drive has enabled us to enhance our students’ experience at UMass. Your donations have allowed us to send students to case competitions, provide funding for students’ professional development trips, and a whole host of other student-focused initiatives. So, please consider giving this year when UMass Gives occurs in April. As always, thank you for your continued support and engagement. Best, Janet Fink Department Chair


POINTS OF PRIDE KOBY ALTMAN NAMED CAVS GM On July 24th, McCormack Sport Management graduate Koby Altman (’09 MS) took the reins as General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the Isenberg program, an alum with an NBA GM pedigree is a first. At age 34, Altman’s rapid rise to the top is exceptional. (The average age of NBA GMs exceeds 50.) It took Altman a scant five years to ascend the Cav’s hierarchy, beginning as Pro Personnel Manager in 2012. After that, he excelled as Director of Player Personnel and then as Assistant General Manager. While completing his M.S. degree, Koby served as a Grad Assistant for Coach Hixon (MS ‘79) at Amherst College.

JANMOHAMED INDUCTED INTO 2017 LEADERS UNDER 40 CLASS Zaileen Janmohamed (MBA/MS ’05), SVP, Client Consulting + Services at GMR Marketing, joins Leaders 2017 class of Forty Under 40. This national honor awarded by Leaders and Aspire Academy recognizes the achievements of outstanding members of the global sports community. Zaileen receives this award one year after being inducted into the SportsBusiness Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2016.

DECKLER NAMED RISING STAR Zach Deckler (BS ‘15) was named a Cynopsis Media 2017 Rising Star. This award recognizes young professionals for their drive and outstanding work in media. Deckler works as an Account Executive for Scout Sports and Entertainment. Zach led a wide breadth of projects from Turnkey sponsorship agreements to onsite event activations. His achievements included working directly with Fan Duel to ensure the success of the annual FanDuel World Fantasy Basketball Championships and United Rentals Turns for Troops program.

FREEMAN NAMED DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS AT LAFAYETTE COLLEGE In February of 2018, Sherryta Freeman (MS ‘04) will officially take over as Lafayette College’s newest Director Athletic. Freeman’s most recent position was Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to this she spent ten years at Temple University where she moved from Assistant A.D. for Compliance, to Associate A.D. for Compliance and Student Services, and finally Senior Associate A.D.

PAM LEVINE NAMED PRESIDENT OF 2XU NORTH AMERICA After graduation, Pamela Levine (MS ‘99) started a career in sales. Over the next 12 years she worked with Hybrid Apparel, Quiksilver, Saucony, and Vida Shoes International as a high level sales executive. After this, she moved to Manduka, as their General Manager of North America she was responsible for driving market strategy and revenue growth. This year, Levine was named to run the North American Region for the performance and compression apparel brand 2XU.

SEN JOINS 2018 30 UNDER 30 CLASS Preetam Sen (BS ‘10) joins 600 of the world’s brightest young people as a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2018. As the Director of Partnership Sales for City Football Group, Preetam’s work has contributed to the growing popularity of professional soccer within the U.S. Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment, Preetam! Preetam closed a U.S. regional partnership for Manchester City FC with Carlsberg and a partnership with AT&T for NYCFC. Prior to joining City Football Group, Sen managed the Brooklyn Nets’ partnerships.

HINKLE NAMED FORT LEWIS AD Barney Hinkle (MS ‘85) is the newest Athletic Director of Fort Lewis College, his undergraduate alma mater. Hinkle was a Hall of Fame player for the Skyhawks basketball team. Fort Lewis College competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and fields 8 women’s and 5 men’s teams. Hinkle’s sport marketing experience includes 22 years with Anheuser-Busch Sports and Entertainment Marketing and three years with the PGA Tour.

NAKAMURA RECEIVES AWARD OF EXCELLENCE This year, the Tokyo Business Conference awarded Take (MS ‘04), the president CEO and founder of Blue United, the 2017 Chairman’s Global Entrepreneur Award of Excellence. This award recognizes start up companies and entrepreneurs who have established unique business models abroad, and set an example for others. This February, his company will host the inaugural Pacific Rim Cup in Honolulu. The competition will be the first in six years where the Japan Professional Football 5 League and the MLS will compete in Hawaii.


LAYUPS 4 LIFE ALUM USES DEGREE TO GIVE BACK In 2013, alumni Dan Exter had been meeting regularly with a lung specialist in New York City to find out why an inhaler wasn’t helping with his persistent shortness of breath. Time and time again, the tests showed that there was nothing wrong with his lungs. It wasn’t until a “long-shot” blood test was performed that doctors were able to find anything out of the ordinary.

After almost an entire month residing in the hospital, Dan was able to go home and continue chemotherapy as an outpatient treatment. In November 2013, Dan was ready to receive a T-cell depleted stem cell transplant. This procedure searches for a donor with a similar or exact bone marrow make-up, which will provide the patient the best opportunity for remission.

Saturday, July 13th 2013, Dan’s pulmonologist called him in to the ER to conduct the tests that would confirm Dan had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.). A.L.L. is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, and treatment requires chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and in more extreme cases a stem cell transplant; if not treated quickly, its progression is rapid.

The first place doctors look is to a patient’s siblings. Dan had one brother which landed him with a 25% chance of finding a initial match before having to go on a national donor list. Fortunately, Dan’s brother was a 100% match which meant that the procedure could happen sooner, with the lesser potential of side effects.

Dan was admitted to Lennox Hill Hospital in N.Y.C. immediately and indefinitely.

Dan with his Parents


The transplant, which occurred at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, was a major success! Dan was able to leave the hospital 13 days post transplant

and continue his recovery from home. During his recovery Dan resolved to become active in the fight against cancer. “If I got myself back on my feet and healthy, I wanted to give back to the cancer community,” Dan explained. With this resolution Dan and his wife - as of October 2017 - Dana started out to create Layups 4 Life, a non-profit organization that raises vital funds to support cancer research and clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center four years ago. Throughout the year, L4L hosts a range of fundraising events, including happy hours, fitness classes and other social gatherings, but the marquis event is an annual 3v3 basketball tournament. Dan has played basketball since the fourth grade, and saw this opportunity to couple his passion for the game with his desire to give back to the hospital that saved his life. Dan’s T-cell depleted stem cell transplant benefited tremendously from clinical trials and as such, he is passionate about supporting these efforts. To date, Layups 4 Life, has raised over $50,000 for cancer research. Last year’s L4L tournament supported two clinical trials, including Dr. Michael Khara’s study on acute myeloid leukemia and Dr. Guenther Koehne’s study on hematologic malignancies and disorders. With over 40 participating teams each year, many led by UMass alumni, L4L has outgrown its original facility and is moving to the Parsippany PAL Youth Center in Parsippany, New Jersey for their 2018 tournament, taking place on April 28th.”While we enter our 4th year of operation I am thankful that our annual charity 3v3 basketball tournament continues to grow and all of you believe in my vision and have shown support with our efforts in the fight against cancer,” explained Exter. A fellow alumnus, Josh Ginsberg, is a committed participant in the L4L charity basketball tournament, and is actively involved in various cancer-focused charities. “The power of people coming together to fight is incredible” Ginsberg explained in a previous interview, “and I hope that with additional support, cancer treatment innovation continues and all of those battling have the access to the same types of solutions my mom and Dan were so fortunate to have.” Dan has time and again expressed gratitude for the friends, family, and community who have helped to make this event a storied success. The UMass pedigree, his sport management education, and our phenomenal alumni network have all been integral to the successful development of this organization. “So much of what I’ve been doing, I’ve been able to do because of what I learned at UMass,” Dan explained. From soliciting sponsorships, to understanding event operations/how to work with venues, to sport law and marketing, his course work gave him the foundation he needed to create Layups 4 Life. To find out more visit, follow @layups4life across social media, or email Dan at 7


ALUMS TEAM UP ON NHL’S FIRST EVER GAME IN CHINA: With the 2022 Olympics set to take place in Beijing, China has embraced winter sports and seeks to grow participation to 300 million people by 2022. The Chinese government reached out to the NHL to assist in growing hockey among the populace. The NHL agreed to assist and to lend its expertise in building out their hockey infrastructure, including agreeing to play games in China for six of the next eight years. Last fall the NHL decided to play two preseason games in China in 2017, one in Shanghai at Mercedes-Benz Arena on September 21 and one in Beijing at Cadillac Arena on September 23. The planning process started last fall with the NHL, Bloomage International (the promotor for the event) and the two arenas. The NHL flew to Shanghai and Beijing in March for a planning trip. That’s when Jim Foss, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Arena (BS ’90) and Joe Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Events for the NHL (BS ’91) met for the first time. It was not until they were at dinner one night during the planning visit in March when they found out they both were UMASS Sport Management grads and attended during the same years. “We started reminiscing about our college days, the professors we had (Wong, Gundersen, Kelson, to name a few) and realized we may have even attended the same classes together and just didn’t know each other,” Fitzgerald said. “We laughed that it took us 27 years and being half way around the world to connect.”


Jim Foss came over to Shanghai as the GM of Mercedes-Benz Arena three years ago, formerly the GM of what is now called Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, home of the Arizona Coyotes. Joe Fitzgerald has been with the NHL seven years, after working for Major League Baseball for 20 years. Together they have been working non-stop since March to plan and work through the many challenges of getting MercedesBenz Arena ready and up to NHL standards to play the game. “It’s a learning curve,” Foss said. “I have a pretty good idea having worked with the League and the [Coyotes] for a while on what’s needed, and there’s a lot of details to put on NHL games, from the ice quality to television, where the cameras will be placed and all the details that go into it.” There were hurdles at MBA Arena, one of which was the ice plant had never been used. The dasher boards that were in storage for 10 years had never been used. New acrylic glass had to be ordered, according to NHL standards, to replace the tempered glass that was in storage. The arena didn’t own a Zamboni so Foss and Fitzgerald worked on finding two that could be borrowed. Fitzgerald, who has worked for years planning large scale sporting events such as All-Star Games, World Series, Stanley Cup Finals and outdoor hockey games said, “This event has been a challenge with the language barrier and the time difference. Jim and I would be on calls with one person having to take the morning 7 a.m. call and the other 7 p.m. call, or even later like 10 p.m.” “We got here on the September 10 to start putting the rink together,” Fitzgerald added. “As we started to make ice we realized we had an issue with the humid air and the rink was fogging up.” Multiple tweaks were made with the HVAC and on the first day of practice there was enough fog on the ice that it was difficult to see from one end of the rink to the other. “We asked Jim if he had any local contacts that could bring in large dehumidifiers and Jim came through for us finding a company that brought in 25 units the very next morning,” Fitzgerald said. “With rain in the forecast and the humidity we had no other option. Jim basically saved the game for us, without these units we may not have been able to play the game.” The historic first ever game went off without a hitch as the Kings defeated the Canucks 5-2. Both Fitzgerald and Foss can’t wait to see what happens years from now with the growth of Hockey in China, but are happy to say that two UMass Sport Management Alums had a part in the first-ever NHL game in China. Pictured to the left are photos of Jim Foss, Joe Fitzgerald and the winning goalie of the China Games in Shanghai, LA Kings Jonathan Quick, who also attended UMass and played for the Minutemen from 2005-2007.



STAR-SPANGLED STALUPPI In 2017 Demi Staluppi performed at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Citizen’s Bank Park, Nassau Colosseum, Yogi Berra Stadium, and the Barclays Center. Those who have been lucky enough to catch Demi’s renditions of the National Anthem and God Bless America can be certain of one thing: Staluppi can sing! Demi got her start singing the anthem at her high school’s basketball games. Since then, she’s worked tirelessly to get to where she is today. As a freshman at UMass she auditioned to sing for our Athletic Department and while here, regularly sang at football, basketball, and hockey games. In 2012 she performed at the Frozen Fenway event where UMass Hockey took on Vermont. During her time at UMass Demi was very involved in the music department. As a dedicated member of the Minuteman Marching Band, she sang, played the trumpet, and was part of the Administrative Staff. In 2013, she performed with the band at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Demi was also a member of the UMass Vocal Jazz Ensemble, University Chorale, and won UMass Idol. On top of her involvement with the arts, Demi was active within Isenberg and the Sport Management Department. “With her outgoing personality, Demi brought high energy and boundless enthusiasm to the SoccerFest marketing team,” explained Mark McDonald. “As with her involvement with the UMASS marching band, she was always willing to do whatever needed to be done to help the team succeed.” A Sport Management and Marketing major with two music minors - Vocal Performance and Jazz and Classical Voice - Demi has certainly put her degree to work. The hard work and commitment Demi put forth throughout school and in her five internships within the sport and entertainment industry helped her get to where she is today. Demi currently works in the Special Events department at Major League Baseball where she assists with the coordination of the MLB World Series, MLB All-Star FanFest, and Winter Meetings. Prior to this, she’s held positions with Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, Learfield , and the National Hockey League. Going into 2018, Demi already has college basketball performances scheduled for the spring. If you would like to see any of her past performances make sure you check out her YouTube channel.


YOUNG ALUMNI COUNCIL INAUGURAL MEETING On October 11th, alumni from Boston and New York City traveled back to Amherst to launch the McCormack Young Alumni Advisory Council. The group is made up of engaged alumni who have graduated within the last 10 years, have remained engaged with the department, and were nominated by a faculty member. Over their three year terms this group will take on initiatives to support the department, including industry engagement, alumni support, and diversity and inclusion. The group brought a wealth of passion and energy to the first meeting in which they discussed issues in the industry, the history of the program, and areas in which we can improve. If you have any questions about alumni involvement or activities this group will be a great resource! Jake Cruz

Chris Starck

Brett Danahy

Premium Sales Account Exec. Boston Celtics

Director of Corporate Strategy New England Patriots/Revolution

VP, National Sales SJX Partners

Brody Mankus

Kelsey Koswick

Josh Duboff

Account Executive Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment

Coordinator FSM Experiences Fenway Sport Management

Project Manager Reuters

Scott Savran Account Executive Scout Sports and Entertainment

Melcolm Ruffin

Jenna Johnson

Sr Coordinator, Business Operations NBA

Account Manager Octagon

Liz Lockett Key Account Coordinator 47 Brand

Michelle Tracy Sponsorship Strategies/Activation MKTG




JON SPOELSTRA SHARES INSIGHTS ON MARKETING & INNOVATION: LOU WIGDOR he said, during the best of economic times, when “everybody does well.” “But our greatest successes came during recessionary years [when most teams suffer].”

Can this marketing miracle worker really get Inuits to swap their hard-earned pelts for ice? You be the judge. For sports marketing legend Jon Spoelstra, “borderline outrageous” and nonstop innovation are road-tested enablers of business success. On October 23 and 24, Spoelstra, this fall’s Mark H. McCormack Executive in Residence, shared insights in classes, met one-on-one with students and faculty, and lectured to a packed auditorium of mostly sport management faculty and students. Jon is cofounder of the consulting firm SRO Partners, which helps NBA, NHL, MLB, and minor league teams to ace marketing challenges. The author of influential books on marketing, including Marketing Outrageously and Ice to the Eskimos: How to Market a Product Nobody Wants, he was president and managing director of Mandalay Baseball Properties, an exceptionally profitable owner and operator of seven minor league teams. Before that, he brought his innovative brand of leadership to the former New Jersey Nets as its president and COO (three years) and to the Portland Trail Blazers as its senior vice president and general manager (11 years). “I always went to the job that offered the greatest opportunity,” Spoelstra emphasized in his keynote lecture. “I moved to Buffalo, New Jersey, and Portland on purpose. I also asked myself each day—What did I do today to make money for my company?” To that end, his companies prospered, 12

New as a Way of Life. For inspiration, Spoelstra outlined three defining ingredients for success. First, he urged the gathering to embrace “New as a way of life.” Taking a lead decades ago from innovative Japanese firms, he attributed mantra-like status to personal advice from a former Sony CEO, who had insisted, “If we don’t innovate now, we perish in the marketplace.” (Sony itself, he noted, paid the price of obsolescence when its Walkman and Discman later succumbed to Apple’s iPod.)

”I’ve always been blessed with intense curiosity,” Spoelstra confessed in an interview the next day. That, he explained, entails a regimen of reading, writing, idea sharing, and, above all, proactive, constant observation. Throughout his career, that “curiosity DNA” has generated one profitable, outof-the-box insight after another. Two decades ago at the theatre, while glancing at a PlayBill magazine, Spoelstra asked, “Why don’t sports teams do that?” The upshot was the Nets’ PlayBall magazine, a freebie for the fans that offered in-depth information about the team and gave the Nets a heady advertising revenue stream ($700K in the first year). That was a marked improvement from its $70k take from Hoop magazine ($4 a copy), the magazine of record at every NBA venue. Throughout his career, Spoelstra championed innovative, frequently oddball direct response newspaper ads. But there was always method in his innovativeness: “We measured everything, including sales over the next 48 hours,” he told his keynote audience. And at Mandalay, he replaced the Dayton Dragons’ cluttered outfield wall ads with the widest LED TV screen in the world (280’ and 7’ high). The screen, which revolutionized in-stadium advertising, featured eight advertisers per game, yielding first-

ent Leader Dinner with Jon Spoelstra

Emphasis on Due Diligence. Throughout his career, Spoelstra tempered his passion for innovation with a critical eye. To gain approval from team owners, he rehearsed airtight, data-driven arguments clarifying his proposal’s concept, rationale, timeline, and responses to potential objections. “I treated [my employers] like the Supreme Court,” he insisted, advising his audience to avoid casual presentation of “bright” ideas to one’s boss. Bragging Points. So what did Spoelstra’s employers gain from his marriage of extreme creativity and critical preparation? His bio notes that one of his Mandalay teams, the Dayton Dragons, has sold every ticket to every game in 16 successive seasons. It also reveals that during his three years with the Nets’, the team’s sellouts mushroomed from zero to 29 and its local sponsorship sales swelled from $400K to $7M. And during his 11 years with the Trail Blazers, the team sold out every home game. The Best Laid Plans. Be prepared, however, for permanent reversals when “pushing the outrageous envelope,” he advised. After working overtime to successfully persuade the seven New Jersey Nets owners to approve the team’s name change to the evocative New Jersey Swamp Devils, Spoelstra moved on to dispel resistance from NBA commissioner David Stern. Stern’s response: Secure the affirmative vote of all 27 NBA teams in executive committee.

con. The wide-eyed baconian team symbol may be no-necked, but he wields a mighty bat.

Two Cheers for Innovation and the Human Element How do you create a culture of innovation in an organization? “Every organization has a culture,” Spoelstra insisted in the interview. “That culture,” he explained, “starts at the top. It is never dictated by the janitor. Even in the most innovative environments, though, there’s plenty of room for folks who excel in essential skills. They need to feel part of the team too.” While Spoelstra has embraced Facebook and other social media tools, he is wary when iPhones and the cloud eclipse human beings. “The [IT technologies] are excellent information devices, but humans are most important,” he remarked. “I could have skyped in my executive in residence visit, but would that have been as effective?” he asked. “I’m not a big fan of emails in problem solving,” he continued. “To find a solution to a problem, find the people who are interested in solving it. That is the key!”

Spoelstra thought that the outcome was a slamdunk, but was mistaken: The vote was 26 to 1 in the Swamp Devil’s favor, with the lone dissenter the Net owner who had represented the team at the executive meeting. Much better, Spoelstra discovered, to be the co-owner of one’s own team. Witness the express christening earlier this year of his Georgiabased minor league baseball team, the Macon Ba-





The 2017 Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management Career Fair was the most successful one to date. The eighth-annual event, who’s title sponsor was Comcast Spectacor, saw record breaking numbers, with over 50 attending organizations and 300 students in attendance. Within two weeks, five of these organizations returned to campus to conduct interviews with our students, and many others followed up individually to discuss job and internship opportunities. What made this Career Fair such a success was the months of planning and preparation done by the student club Association of Diversity in Sport (ADS). ADS set a goal to expand the Career Fair’s reach with both attending companies and students. The recruitment team, led by Seniors Jon Becker and Stephen Polay, was able to recruit organizations from all over the nation. Companies came from California, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas, Rhode Island, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts. In expanding the event’s reach, ADS was also able to host a very influential Keynote Speaker in Scott Carter. Carter is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sports 1 Marketing, a global sports and entertainment marketing agency based out of California. His keynote address attracted many students and provided them with valuable insight into the sport industry. Another key factor in the success of this year’s Career Fair was the UMass alumni representation. Out of the 50 organizations that attended, 16 UMass alumni were here to represent them - some are pictured below. They did a fantastic job of connecting with current students, and gave us a chance to network with past McCormack students who have gone on to become successful in the sport industry. We truly appreciate all of the alumni support we receive to pull off this event. If you’re interested in attending this event next year please feel free to reach out to club advisor, Nicole Melton, at With the 2017 McCormack Career Fair in the books, ADS has already begun to prepare for 2018. With the hard work of the club’s dedicated members and with the help of faculty and alumni, the 2018 McCormack Career Fair will be an event to look forward to once again!



The hard work and dedication of over 80 undergraduate students ensured the success of the 2017 Pioneer Valley Tip-Off. Not only did these students gain experience in their fields of study, but over 250 high school athletes were able to play at the historic Curry Hicks Cage, which was once known as one of the loudest buildings in the Northeast. A main goal of the PVTO and its participating schools is to help in the fight against cancer by partnering with the American Cancer Society. Philanthropy Chair, Samantha Bernstein, was pleased with how this year’s fundraising went, stating “Through the support of friends and families within the community, we raised $3,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer and I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort our staff put into fundraising.” The PVTO is a 100% student-run event managed by the McCormack Student Leaders Club. What started as an 8-team local tournament in 2011 has evolved into an annual 24-team Showcase. MIAA and NEPSAC teams from all over the New England area, including Central and Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, were invited to this year’s PVTO. With the addition of a prep-school division, the showcase boasts a full weekend of competitive high school basketball.

NBA HACKATHON The 2nd annual NBA Hackathon featured 24 hours of nonstop coding, NBA executives, and the ultimate intersection between nerd and sport. Unlike the year before, both business and basketball tracks existed and the event was extended from 8 hours to 24. McCormack undergraduate student, Sydney Robinson (‘19), competed for the second consecutive year and afterwards said, “Great experience with a team built to compete. The opportunity to work on the same data teams and the NBA are using is great experience. The NBA does a great job with this event having all 30 teams present, between the actual competition and networking opportunities the NBA Hackathon is can’t miss.” Sydney and his team, Team Zollner (they elected the name after former Fort Wayne Pistons owner), tackled the basketball track. Teams had to select between 3 prompts; creativity proved a strength for Team Zollner utilizing methods never before attempted in sport. Sydney also co-hosts a podcast covering the entire NBA with in depth conversations, including scouting reports and salary cap analysis. Check out The Bench Mob NBA Podcast on Itunes!


A DECADE WITH OCTAGON In 2007, Professor Jay Gladden was looking for a way to get students to consider more than just a career in pro or college sports. He wanted to show creative individuals that there were great opportunities at agencies, and he was in search of a tool that would put students in a position where they would have to apply what they learned in class to a real-life project. The solution? Establishing a partnership with Octagon - a global sports and entertainment agency. “There was a whole host of reasons to seek [this partnership] out,” explained Gladden, “we just got lucky that Octagon was really interested.” Jay paired up with Gord Lang, Chief Growth Officer at Octagon, and they started to lay out the details of the student competition with the help of Christine Franklin (BS ‘00). Student teams would be given a real brief in September - Amstel Light in year one - and they’d have all semester to prepare a marketing strategy, budget and all, to present to a panel of Octagon employees and brand representatives. Gladden and Lang both viewed this as a competition and as a professional experience for students. It wasn’t until Octagon employees started to approach Gladden after the presentations to inquire about students that they started to view it as an opportunity for talent acquisition as well. “It’s a great example of how the program can work with an organization to come up with a mutually beneficial program,” stated Gladden. Fastforward to 2017, and the entire panel of judges is made up of UMass alumni. After competing in the Octagon Bowl Rachel Levitsky and Konrad Hess (MS ‘17) were hired by the agency. This year, they sat on the panel of judges. “Having the industry knowledge I do now, and looking back on my competition, I’m taken by how real the entire project is,“ Levitsky explained, “while it may have been difficult while I was a student, it prepared me for my career more than any other coursework would have.” “The Octagon Bowl is one of the shining linchpins of our graduate curriculum, and has enabled us not only to continually engage with our alumni who work there” said Professor Steve McKelvey, Graduate Program Director. “But, as importantly, the Octagon Bowl has become a real recruiting tool for us. Whenever we ask students why they selected our grad program over other top notch programs, our experientiallearning based opportunities, like the Octagon Bowl, are always among the top reasons,” added McKelvey. This partnership has given ten years worth of students an unforgettable and important professional experience. We’d like to extend a sincere “Thank You” to all those who have helped to make this such a successful partnership.

McCormack Alumni with this year’s Octagon Bowl competitors





Jared Hager, MS, Social Media Marketing Associate - Warrior Sports, New Balance; Steve Capuano, BS, Director of Ticket Operations, UMass; Ryan Pierce, MS, Assistant Director of Fan Development, Orlando Magic.

and Entertainment.


Barney Hinkle, MS, Director of Athletics, Fort Lewis College.

Declan Bolger, MS, Senior VP & CMO, Kroenke Sports

Jordan Koren, MS, Director of Marketing, Hambric Sports.


Mira Koplovsky, MS,

Associate Counsel, IMG



Lisa Melz-Jennings, BS, Academic Support Coach and Academic Advisor, Western Illinois University.

Jim Paquette, MS, General Manager, IMG College.


Ryan Nadeau, BS, Associate Director of Amateur Scouting, Boston Bruins; Pam Levine, MS, President, North America, 2XU.


Ashwin Puri, BS, VP of Strategy and Business Operations, Oakland Athletics.

Matt Etlinger, Wakefield.

Jenn Geary, BS, Corporate Partnerships Manager, New England Revolution, Kraft Sports Group; Josh Targe, BS, Premium Sales Consultant, Las Vegas Stadium.






Senior Director, Cushman

Jessica Fadale, MBA/MS, Acquisition Marketing Manager, Hudl; Britney Antozzi, MBA/MS, Sponsorship Manager, Sports Backers.


Lukas Buiso, BS, Corporate Partnerships Activation Specialist, Boston Celtics; Claire Yi-Wen Chen, MS, Account Executive, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.


Noah Segall, BS, Hockey Operations Coordinator, Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute; Julie Gordon, MBA/MS, Partnership Marketing Coordinator, IMG College; Britney Antozzi, MBA/MS, Sponsorship Manager, Sports Backers.


Freeman, MS, Director of Athletics, Lafayette College.

Ed Owens, MS, Assistant Director of Marketing, Hartford Hawks; Justin Licker, MS, Player Personnel, Boston College; Ian Shaw, BS, Premium Sales Consultant, Las Vegas Stadium at Legends.




Eric Schwage, BS, Sales Manager, Fanatics; Sherryta

Whitney Swab, BS, Associate AD for Marketing, Fan, and Donor Experience, Manhattan College; Luke Bonner, MS, Founder, Power Forward Sport Group.


Dan Gollinger, BS, Account Supervisor, Ion Marketing.

Pushkar Sanyal, MBA/MS, Group Head, Sports Consulting, GroupM; Sarah Corso, BS, Communications, Events, and Alumni Relations Coordinator, UMass Journalism; Cliodhna Loughlin, BS, Management Trainee, Enterprise; Abdullah Arshad, BS, Data and SRM Specialist, MN Timberwolves.


Koby Altman, MS, General Manager, Cleveland Cavaliers.


Alumni at the 2017 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando Jordan Koren and Cody Chrusciel at Chrusciel’s August Wedding

Isenberg NYC Alumni

Duals reunite in India Football at Fenway, UMass vs. Maine


LA meet-up with M

Summer 2017 | Donors

Alumni at the Patriots’ 2017 Ring Ceremony UMass’ newest fan, Saoirse Ryann

Pierce, daughter of Ryan Pierce (MS ‘11)

i Night at 48 Lounge


Let us know when you get together with alumni, hit major milestones, win awards, get new jobs, or change addresses! 19 Erick Dalton, Jon Tosches, and Mark Scialabba after the Nationals clinched the NL East

Send updates to Molly McGuigan at


121 Presidents Drive, Room 236 Amherst, MA 01003




McCormack Alumni Newsletter  
McCormack Alumni Newsletter