DC conference educates future sports business leaders, raises money for a good cause

Ryan Colpitts (holding trophy) is an Athlete Leader Coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario. He handed over a memento to Durham College Sport Management students (from left) Jodie Carmichael, Matt Melo and Mac Henley. The memento was given to anyone who raised more than $1,000 for the Special Olympics this year and represents the organization's 50th anniversary. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

The 10th annual Durham College Sport Business Conference raised $1,000 for Special Olympics this year.

The Sport Business Management graduate program students gave the cheque to Ryan Colpitts, athlete leadership coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario.

As a gesture of thanks for raising more than $1,000 they were given a trophy from Colpitts. The memento represents the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

The purpose of the Sport Business Conference, held Nov. 27 in the campus gym, was to give students who want to work in the field a chance to network and listen to people who have established careers in it.

Some of the big names included Bob Hunter, chairman, and CEO of the Toronto Wolfpack, Toronto’s pro rugby team.

A panel was also made up of athletic directors from universities including those from Trent, Ontario Tech and Queen’s. In addition, Graham Brown, USports president and CEO, and Gord Grace, Ontario University Athletics CEO, were on hand.

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Speakers at the Durham College Sport Business Conference (from left) John Lashway of the Canadian Elite Basketball League; Michael Thompson of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ben Zayandehroudi of York 9 Derek Marques of Lakeridge Sports Management and Norm Lem of DAZN Canada. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

First-year Sport Management student Sydney Holmes took full advantage of the event but was curious why more people didn’t. Organizers said 200 people attended the day-long conference.

“There’s a lot of people that just don’t want to take the time out of there day to do stuff like this, but I feel like the people that do choose to and want to are the people that are going to further their career and get ahead,” said Holmes.

Holmes said the event was a good chance for her to learn more about college and university sports, which is her preferred career path, as well as get a deeper look into other fields like Special Olympics and professional sport.

“Talking to people helps me gain information, on what they did to achieve where they are at today,” said Holmes.

A panel of Durham alumni who work in sport business talked about setting yourself apart from everyone else – not letting school just happen to you.

“Instead of just taking part in school, try getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that are uncomfortable is a way to get ahead,” said Holmes.

One speaker reinforced the importance of cover letters, to make sure they are designed for the company job seekers are applying to or else companies don’t consider the applicant.

The third year Sport Business Management students who ran the event and Holmes both agree coming to the event can be a major benefit to their career and their contact list.

One of the third years who promoted the event through sales and marketing, Logan Caswell, said running a conference with more than a dozen speakers is going to benefit him before going to his internship.

Caswell got his internship at the Brampton Beast, an East Coast Hockey League team. He will work 500 total hours there in the fall of next year.

“Me going into my internship and already having a base of what to expect from working in marketing and sales the last three months and some volunteering I’ve done all have helped prepare me,” said Caswell.

It’s an experience he said will only benefit him in his future.

“It’s an opportunity you normally don’t get until you are already working in the field,” said Caswell.