Colorado State University student Abbey Kelleher knew when she walked into the Colorado Rockies conference room at Coors Field to pitch her group’s project to the marketing team that there was no way she was going to strike out.
“This experience for me was something I will not take for granted,” said Kelleher, a junior business management and innovation major and sport management minor. “I feel that the opportunity to work on and present an idea to the Rockies themselves for consideration was truly an honor and a privilege.”
Kelleher was among 50 students to recently present their ideas for special game events to the Rockies marketing team as part of the Colorado Rockies Sport Management Institute at Colorado State University. The institute encompasses the College of Liberal Arts’ sport management minor and master’s programs and allows students to learn directly from industry professionals within the Rockies organization.
A winning pitch
Elements of each of the student pitches will be used by the MLB organization for future events. Students from the winning pitch teams were also brought onto the field to be recognized at a pre-game ceremony just before the first pitch at a recent home Rockies game.
One of the selected pitches included Kelleher’s team’s idea for a retro-themed game celebrating the Rockies’ 30th anniversary.
“We wanted to create a sense of nostalgia for fans who have grown up around the Rockies, as well as educate new fans on the history of the organization,” she said. The game would feature ‘90s-era walk-up songs and throwback uniforms for the players, along with Rockies trivia and promotional items like slap bracelets.
For Sport Management Program Interim Director Andrew Goldsmith, the event was a chance to see his students utilize what they’ve learned.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to take all of these theoretical ideas from the classroom and see our students really put them into practice in a professional setting where now they are the experts,” Goldsmith said.
A team effort
The event also highlighted what a true team effort the partnership with the Rockies — which was announced last spring — has been for all involved, he said.
“I’m grateful for the relationship with the Rockies, proud of the way our students represented the program and CSU, and thankful that we have the faculty on our team to make something like this a reality,” Goldsmith said.
“I am proud of the growth the students showed throughout the development of their pitches this semester,” said Justin Garner, an instructor and advisor for the program. “The students went from brainstorming about how to get a unique group to attend a Rockies mid-week game, to developing a themed marketing plan to get those people in the stands. I was happy to see each and every group deliver great presentations.”
Officials from Rockies leadership said they were won over by the students’ innovative pitches.
“The CSU students presented insightful and bright ideas,” said Katelyn Hekkert, Rockies Group Sales coordinator. “We were very impressed with the level of effort, resourcefulness and professionalism that they demonstrated in their projects.”
That included senior Paddy Turner’s team, which presented the idea of creating a suicide awareness-themed game focused on remembering those lost to suicide as well as raising awareness and money for suicide prevention efforts.
A unique experience
Turner said he appreciated the experience as well as the opportunity.
“The sport management institute provides a very professional environment to get you ready for the workforce and sets you up with great connections in the field,” he said.
Kelleher agreed, noting it was obvious that the partnership between the Rockies and CSU is a great collaboration.
“I definitely feel like I gained real-life experience through working on the project, overcoming challenges, eventually presenting our idea to the Rockies personnel and getting feedback,” she said. “It was a great way to get connected and start to create relationships with people in the sports industry, and I am appreciative of all the hard work that went into making this experience possible from all people involved!”