Skip to main content

WCU Stories

Sport management students gain real-world experience at SMA conference


From left to right, Raymond Dillard, secretary, Kaila Thompson treasurer and Wade Raines, vice president. Not pictured, Christian Cabaniss, president.

By Julia Duvall

Western Carolina University students and Sports Marketing Association club members recently had the opportunity to attend an SMA conference in Tampa, Florida. 

The students serving in officer positions for the SMA student club are double majoring in sport management and marketing.

“It was a great opportunity to work on a case study, tour some of the major sports facilities and learn more about day-to-day operations in sport management,” said Raymond Dillard, a senior from Sylva and secretary of SMA.

The students presented a case study on creating a new Florida women’s soccer league and how they would implement opening day activities, events, how they would draw fans in and generate revenue.

Their case was presented in front of a panel of four judges from various facets of the sport marketing field. While they did not win the competition, they were able to gain real-world experience by participating.

“The day after the case study competition, we had the opportunity to tour the Tampa Bay Lightning arena and we got to see the opposing team practice,” said Wade Raines, a junior from Lexington, who serves as vice-president of SMA. “The general manager of the team talked to us about his role as GM and day-to-day operations.”

In addition to touring the Tampa Bay Lightning facilities and attending a game, the students toured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training facilities.

“SMA has been such a great opportunity for me to see the different job opportunities with each trip we take,” said Kaila Thompson, a senior from Thomasville and treasurer of SMA. “We have been to everything from Women’s Day at Furman to a Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey game. We are looking forward to continuing to attend the SMA conference.”

Office of Web Services