Graceland University Sport Management and Business Administration majors Carter Wiley ‘21, Riley Stevenson ‘22, and Justin Binnicker ‘23, also a social change major, served as interns in 2021 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship in Kansas City.
This is the second year Graceland students have served the NAIA championships; 8 students in 2019, six planned to serve in 2020 prior to the event’s cancelation, and three in 2021.
The NAIA selects 20 passionate sport management college students from across the United States to intern at this championship each year. Binnicker gives credit to Graceland professor, “Donovan made this happen. He pushed the idea of an internship to NAIA and encourages Graceland students to apply.”
Wiley, Stevenson and Binnicker sacrificed four days of classes and three days of spring break to receive online training sessions and report to Municipal Auditorium, located in The Kansas City Convention Center.
Wiley, Stevenson and Binnicker collaborated on general operations, general maintenance, media relations, media hospitality, communications, selling bulletins, hiring and working with caterers, assisting in visual production, assisting the master of ceremonies and enforcing COVID-19 protocols like making sure chairs were the proper distance apart.
Stevenson shared, “My professors at Graceland are the force that prepared me for this experience. From discourse classes that helped me be a better communicator to my experience helping with Graceland sporting events each year. Dr. Nelson was also brutally honest in preparing us what to expect so we went into it with realistic expectations. Overall, I gained a lot of information and experience.”
Wiley said, “Graceland classes helped me network. I learned to hand out business cards and get to know other people. When it came to working this event, I learned just how much goes into running such a big tournament. My favorite part was seeing John Stockton show up!”
Binnicker explained, “Dr. Nelson is a phenomenal teacher and has an immense amount of experience in the sport industry. He knows what the critical parts if this field are. His knowledge, storytelling and intentional assignments were extremely valuable for me going into this internship. He has set me up with a valuable framework for an industry that can be incredibly difficult to prepare for.”
All three students spoke of the opportunity to pull together many elements that made this event come together. Binnicker referred to it as a “puzzle” and said, “each day we did a better and better job putting it together.”