Elon University / Today at Elon / Student volunteers represent Elon at ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament

McKenna Dalfonso, class of ’24, takes a picture on the Greensboro Coliseum floor. Thanks to Dalfonso for the photo

The ACC and its employees had a long-standing relationship with associate professor of sports management Shaina Dabbs, and she used this relationship to help foster student engagement.

For kids, being a part of a large event in real life where they aren’t just watching it but actively contributing to its success is amazing, according to Dabbs. “It brings all the information learned in the classroom to life on the playing field. Additionally, it enables students to work with the ACC and network with other competitors while also enhancing their resumes.

In addition to their other duties, the students assisted with the planning of on-field promotions, media data checks, locker room organization, tournament setup, and FanFest activities at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Tess Hawthorne, a sophomore who is majoring in both marketing and sports management, described her “amazing” experience, which involved interacting with the crowd, rousing them, and throwing T-shirts and other free items. Hawthorne claimed that her participation in the tournament helped her expand her professional network in addition to enjoying the excitement of the competition.

Over 30 Elon students, including Emilia Cappellett ’24 and Dalfonso, volunteered to perform surgery on game days during the 2023 ACC Women’s Basketball Championship. Picture from Cappellett

“I wanted to benefit from these kinds of learning opportunities when I arrived to Elon. At this stage in my life, the chance to work at an event this significant and well-known in the sports sector is wonderful, said Hawthorne. “Seeing it all come to life was surreal, and experiencing the energy and passion of the fans was worth it because I knew I was helping to build it,” said one fan.

Over the past five years, the Department of Sports Management has collaborated with the ACC to offer college students like Hawthorne the chance to work in a professional, game-day setting. According to Dabbs, the partnership provides students with the best environment for professional development and exposure to the needs of the sports sector.

The event was a terrific learning opportunity for our kids, who also got to observe firsthand all the moving components that go into organizing a sporting event, according to Dabbs. I’m grateful beyond words to the tournament directors and volunteers. We have had the good fortune to have a strong relationship with the ACC, where we have had conference interns and where several alumni are currently employed. I anticipate a long-term strong partnership between our Sports Management department and the ACC.

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