On March 25, 2010 the South Regional March Madness Bracket was underway at Reliant Stadium. The four teams consisting of Duke, Baylor, Purdue and Saint Mary’s College began practices on the newly structured court. A court that was assembled less than a week after the final concert of the Houston Rodeo.
The teams began practices at Reliant on Thursday and the event had officially begun. As a volunteer, I was unaware of the preparation and effort that went into executing an event of this caliber. This was not your regular college basketball game, this was the big stage and everything you did was going to be seen by thousands of people.
My specific job was to be a “runner.” Now, I have been involved in college athletics for awhile and know that a runner is the person that will run stats from the official’s table to the coach’s, press and media. Immediately my reaction was that of disappointment, I thought that my role was rather lame and can’t say that I was thrilled in the least to be doing something so trivial. Little did I know that I would be the runner to the team’s, be on court during every time out handing stats to the likes of Coach K and watching the rest of the games courtside, right behind the home bench.
By the championship game I was not only running statistics but also assisting in escorting coaches and players to their respective press conferences. This was a great opportunity to see the behind the scenes workings of the media and SID’s. The professionalism and strategy that goes into these events is incredible. There was a time system for when the winning team was interviewed and a cooling off period before escorting the losing team for their interviews. It wasn’t until the moment that one of the coach’s shook my hand and told me thanks for my help that I realized this was all bigger than me.
The expectations that had grown in my head were nothing compared to the realization I had when I stepped into Reliant that first day. Wearing my official NCAA Regional shirt and slacks, I looked just like everyone else, however I had a mission. I wasn’t just at this regional to volunteer; I was there to make an impression. By the end of the tournament I had met every person that could potentially have any influence on my future in any way. I used this opportunity to not only wow my bosses and get offered a spot next year for the Final Four, but I used this as a jump start for my future.
This opportunity allowed me to realize that I am exactly where I want to be. By getting involved and experiencing new things, I am 100% certain that Sport Management is what I need to be doing. It is moments like this when you are caught between being professional and the pure joy of a kid in a candy store, that you can truly appreciate every opportunity and experience that you are able to have during your time at Rice.