Rosen College students got up close and personal with one of the most popular college sporting events in the world when NCAA March Madness returned to Orlando for the first time in 10 years. The Amway Center was awarded the opportunity to host 2nd and 3rd round games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament from March 20-22. The tournament games were hosted locally by Stetson University and the Central Florida Sports Commission, in partnership with the City of Orlando, Orange County and the University of Central Florida.

Student volunteers assisted with various event management duties during the games, including sponsorship and branding compliance, maintaining the locker room and cheer warm-up areas, and staffing the media holding area and key access points throughout the arena. This unrivaled opportunity to go behind the scenes gave students firsthand insight into managing a high-profile, large-scale event involving multiple agencies, vendors and the local organizing committee, in addition to valuable networking opportunities.

“I am a sports fanatic and when I saw that the NCAA March Madness tournament  was going to be in Orlando I was extremely excited to get to work there,” said Gabriela Freitas, a senior majoring in event management and minoring in sport business management. “My main goal was to gain as much experience and talk to different individuals within the industry that I want to work in, which is sporting events. Knowing what goes [into an] event such as this one was very interesting and hectic, but very worth the moment and [I enjoyed] every aspect of it.”

For Rosen College students, being at the right place at the right time translates into unique learning experiences. One student working the media holding area was recruited to help escort teams from their locker rooms to conduct interviews.

“It was such a cool experience, interacting with the teams, the coaches and their media reps,” said Morgan Willis, a senior double majoring in event management and hospitality management. “I’m really glad I decided to volunteer for the event and experience what goes on behind the scenes of some of the major events that happen in the Amway Center.”