LaGrange College students head to New Orleans for Final Four games

Published 9:40 am Friday, April 1, 2022

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The LaGrange College Sports Management program is sending 10 students to the Final Four in New Orleans this year. The students, led by Dr. Preston James IV, will be supervising other volunteers known as way finders. The students will be coordinating the other volunteers at the arena to help facilitate the fan experience.

“I’ve been going over the handbooks and the pamphlets they gave us to make sure we know what to expect,” said senior sports management student Jordan Coppola. “We did a Zoom call training to go through that.”

The students will also be drawing on past experiences in the classrooms as well as smaller events they have participated in like Atlanta United, Atlanta Falcons, and the College Park Skyhawks to help them prepare and succeed while they are participating in the Final Four.

James and the students traveled to New Orleans on Thursday as the thrill of working a Final Four is starting to creep in.

“For me, now it just comes down to excitement,” said senior sports management student Serik Rosencrants. “It’s going to be fun, and we’re going to be learning a lot.”

LaGrange College is one of only four colleges to send students to help facilitate the fan experience at the Final Four. The other three are major Division I schools (University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina, and Louisiana State University). This speaks to the program that James has built at LaGrange College.

His program is hands-on and students get to apply theoretical knowledge to actual, real-world encounters. Rosencrants has worked three Super Bowls with James, but for other students this will be their first taste of a major tournament like this. 

“Serik has worked three, but for me and Kirsten we’ve only worked a handful of Atlanta United games and Atlanta Falcons games,” Coppola said.

“For me, this is probably my first really big event so I’m just looking forward to the experience,” said junior sports management student Kirsten Boyd.

These experiences at Atlanta games prepares the students for bigger events like the Final Four and even further down the road when they search for jobs.

“I’ve actually got to message back-and-forth with a few of the people I’ve met at games on LinkedIn, so it’s really cool to have this open community,” Boyd said. 

“At one point, one out of four students with a degree in sports management were getting jobs,” James said. “Two years ago, the year before COVID, 100% of our students got jobs.”

Setting up the students for future endeavors is what the sports management program at LaGrange College is all about. 

The students are currently on their Spring break and will be sacrificing nearly half of it to travel to New Orleans and work. For all of them, it was an easy decision to make.

“I was like there’s no doubt about it, take my whole Spring break if you have to,” Coppola said.

Making sacrifices in the now to enhance future prospects is a decision many in the program have been willing to make time and time again. For the lucky 10 students heading to New Orleans, this venture could enhance their résumés and open doors down the road.