My ESPN GameDay Volunteer Experience

For myself and other members of the Warsaw Sports Business Club, the announcement that College GameDay was coming to Autzen meant that we would have the unique opportunity to work behind the scenes of College GameDay. It was an opportunity to experience firsthand what it takes to put on an event of such scale and magnitude, to pick the brains of industry insiders, to network, and make impressions.

We worked for Octa8on – a global sports and entertainment marketing firm that handles the sponsorship activation for Home Depot, the title sponsor of College GameDay.  On Friday morning, the first day of volunteering, I arrived at the Casanova Center parking lot to the site of a half built stage and a giant orange bus. Friday was all prep work; we put together Goodie Bags for the Home Depot VIP’s, hung Home Depot signage, and prepared the promotional materials for distribution to fans during the broadcast on Saturday (Home Depot gift cards, rally towels, and hard hats).

Saturday was like nothing I had ever been involved in before; to arrive on site at 3:30am to a crowd of Oregon students and fans shouting “Go Ducks!” and that excitement and enthusiasm being carried out throughout the day was surreal.  I have watched College GameDay numerous times and expected the madness, but nothing could compare to being on site with the backstage all-access pass of a volunteer.  It would have been easy to get carried away in the fanfare, but VIP’s needed to be tended to, signs needed to be painted, and Home Depot branded hard hats needed to be distributed.

To some, these tasks of a volunteer may not seem glamorous, but it is what occurs during them that makes the volunteer opportunity a tremendous experience for anyone looking to get into the sports and entertainment industries.  I had the chance to meet individuals I normally watch on television and had never dreamed of meeting, stand behind the College GameDay desk, and work side by side with a world-class event team.  To watch them work and see the interactions between the Octa8on and ESPN crews was inspiring.  It reaffirmed my desire to work in the sports industry.

Classroom instruction and theory is critical, and the experiential learning opportunities provided to us by the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center allowed us to apply our classroom learning to a national corporation’s marketing strategy.  It may look great to have earned an A in your Sports Marketing course, but to be able to say in an interview that you worked for GameDay and have the experience of sponsorship activation and event management will help put us heads above other applicants.

-Logan Smith

Warsaw Sports Business Club Member

Written by grimstad@uoregon.edu

Senior Honors Business Student