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The wide world of sports

(03/28/10 4:00am)

On Tuesday, Career Services held a workshop explaining some of the advantages and disadvantages of entering the growing field of sports management and administration. "There is probably nothing more exciting [than sports]," said Joe Meyer, a career planning and development assistant. "It's the original reality TV." There are many ways to get into a career in sports. Even though only a select few are blessed with the talents to become professional athletes, Meyer explains that there are jobs everywhere. "On the field, you can be a player or coach, but that's the hardest way to get there," Meyer said. What many students may not know, Meyer explained, is that a majority of jobs are available from behind the scenes. Marketing, promotions, communications and sports reporting are only a few of the potential jobs readily available. "There is a huge business in sports," Meyer said. "However, the more you get into sports, you find out that revenue is very top-heavy." Dream jobs like being a general manager for the Yankees are far and few between, and there are only a handful of such prestigious positions. Like any athlete who endured the rise to the top of his or her sport, baby steps must be taken before the all-out sprint. "The business in sports begins and ends with sales, " Meyer said. According to Meyer, getting a foot in the door is the first step. No matter what profession a person decides to go into, having a previous connection to the job never hurts. "Get experience early – it adds to your resume," Meyer said. "Volunteer and get internships." Having a foot in the door can also help a potential candidate determine whether he or she needs to invest in a master's degree for a job. Many people are already qualified to obtain jobs, but don't realize it. Other degrees, like a master's in sports administration or management, aren't actually required, explains Meyer. Meyer stressed that a job in sports is not a typical 9-to-5 job, and many entry-level jobs aren't well paid, either. "I really don't know anyone who's worked in sports at any level that wasn't there outside of the normal Monday through Friday, nine to five," Meyer said. "The hours can be tough; you get beat down a lot." However, if a student eats, breathes and drinks athletics, a sports career can be thirst quenching. Meyer acknowledges that a sports career may have its advantages and perks, such as working for a professional team and receiving free tickets to events and games, but the monotonous tasks of the job can become dull. "Sometimes when you're in it, you're like, ‘Enough of the games,'" Meyer said. "You get over-flooded with it and you're like, ‘Ok, one game is the next game. Is this really exciting anymore after going to so many?'" Meyer explains that one way to fight the repetitiveness of a career in professional sports is to get into a career in college or amateur sports. While a job working for a school may not carry the same luster that a job with the Sabres offers, the variety of experiences in a more personal career can have its own unique advantages. Meyer's own career started in professional sports with the Bills and eventually moved to college athletics. Once Meyer left professional sports, he never looked back. The enjoyment of seeing students achieve their personal goals and the opportunity to focus on multiple tasks is what keeps him coming back. "I was always a big fan of the smaller schools, because you knew that you were going to be focused on hockey [or] basketball … [there's] variety," Meyer said. "A lot of people don't like the multi-tasking it requires, but it's a lot of fun." E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com


The Vermont Mafia

(03/17/10 4:00am)

Hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia is something that most people would never dream of doing. Elizabeth Zane is not one of those people. Zane, a graduate of Middlebury College, is completing a one-year post-graduate biomedical science program at the University at Buffalo. She invited a small group of students and hikers to the Student Union to share her stories. "It was a childhood dream of mine [to hike the Appalachian Trail]. All of my family is from that area, and when I was in the 10th grade, I saw a similar presentation in the Rochester Library with my mom and have wanted to do it ever since," Zane said. Zane hiked with other girls that she had met at Middlebury. Their trip began in July of 2008 and took five and a half months to complete. There are fourteen states to pass through and Maine tends to be the most strenuous and arduous parts of the journey. While most hikers save it for last, the "Vermont Mafia," as the girls called each other, was ambitious enough to tackle the hardest part first. "It's such a cool gift to experience [the hike with] total strangers and [see] how generous people can be," Zane said. Zane explains that the Appalachian Trail is a social environment. The hikers form a knitted community with each other and their friends and family visit to drop off food and supplies along the trail. One of the main challenges of completing the hike was managing the food supply, she explains. A hiker burns anywhere between 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day, and to carry that much food is an impossible task. Hikers are forced to ration what they carry with them on the trail until they can restock. However, the kindness of strangers helped with the burden. Local families invited the girls in for meals, hot showers and shelter, while hostels provided an alternative to sleeping in a tent and protection from the elements. "When you live outside, you get tied to the nature, [the] weather is tied to your mood," Zane said. The girls encountered flooding, thunderstorms, high winds and snow during their hike. Zane and her friends expected weather conditions to shift toward the end of their journey, but they were not prepared for the amount of snow that fell on the trail. "There are blazes and people [around]. Most of the time [you hike on] just one trail, but with that in mind we did get lost a few times just because certain parts of the trail would be closed off due to bad weather," Zane said. Even with such challenges at hand, over 10,000 people have hiked the 2,175 miles of the Appalachian Trail and enjoyed the overwhelming amount of beautiful flora and fauna of locations such as the Shenandoah's, the White Mountains and Mahoosuc Range. Zane documents her adventures and experiences on her blog, 5millionsteps.wordpress.com, and explains that her feelings of achievement and self-worth were worth every step of the lengthy journey.