The Herald Bulletin

June 8, 2013

College, camping and centerfield

Anderson University camp teaches high schoolers about sports business

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — If you went to summer camp as a kid, you probably remember hiking, arts and crafts and s’more s’mores than any person could reasonably eat.

But what if you’d also gotten to tour Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the Lucas Oil Stadium? Or met executives from pro sports teams like the Pacers or Indianapolis Indians?

Those were just a few of the outings planned for the 12 highschoolers attending Anderson University’s first ever three-day, hands-on, sports marketing camp last week.

”When planning the camp, we thought ‘What would make these kids want to come?’” said business and economics professor, Greg Heberling, who headed the camp with veteran sports marketer, Scott Zebedis — think Indianapolis Indians, Denver Nuggets, San Diego Padres and a host of pro athletes.

”If I were a kid, I’d be excited about this,” Heberling said. “There’s a lot of experts, a lot of tours, a lot of exposure to (sports marketing) executives. Maybe it will open their eyes to all those different avenues where sports marketing and business can take them.”

He said the goal is to give the campers “a wide variety of experiences,” such as meeting executives from the Tony Stewart Foundation and Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation, and tours of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Tony Stewart Suite.

And, of course, to teach them a little something.

For example, campers could expect a hands-on lesson in tickets sales, advertising, media-buying and other important operations while working game day at Victory Field.

”It’s our hope to give the students a brief but well-rounded view of what it is like to work in professional sports,” said the Indians’ assistant general manager, Randy Lewandowski, who just so happens to be an AU alum. “Anytime the opportunity to be a resource or a mentor presents itself, we want to take advantage of it.”

Sports business isn’t for everybody, he said, but for those “willing to put in the time, effort and commitment, we hope to be able to shine a light and provide some guidance for them.”

And if, by attending the sports marketing summer camp, campers gain a little real world experience — and an internship or entry-level position, maybe? — all the better. “This gives us an opportunity to mine for talent as well,” Lenandowski said.

As with many of AU’s summer camps, the kids also get a taste of college life. They stay in dorms on campus, eat meals there, use the Wellness Center and can even earn college credit.

“The purpose of (AU’s) summer camps is to get them used to the college environment,” Heberling said,”But also to get them in the career mind. And, in our case, to have a lot of fun.”