College of Management Category
Jeramy Blackford ‘04 was about to receive a call he’d been waiting for since he’d been at NC State studying business at the Poole College of Management in the early 2000s.
Back then, he had felt something had been missing in his life, so he auditioned for several plays and rekindled his love for acting, which he had first felt in high school.
A job at the Alumni Association running student programs followed graduation, but Blackford still felt that longing. So he released an album with his band, Kennebec, in 2007 and hired an agent. He started acting in some shorts and independent films. He left his job to pursue acting full time.
And then on a Monday last November, the phone rang offering him his first high-profile acting job.
The casting directors of ABC’s Nashville wanted Blackford for a part playing guitar in the band for one of show’s main characters. “I actually heard back from them on a Monday at 5:30 p.m.,” he says. “They were telling me I needed to be in Nashville at 6:30 [p.m.] the next day.”
And so Blackford was on his way to Nashville and to pursue his Hollywood dream.
It’s a 540-mile drive from Blackford’s home in Raleigh, and as soon as he hung up the phone, he was in his 2007 Mini Cooper, embarking on his nine-hour trip on I-40 West to Nashville. But it was valuable time considering the homework assignment the directors had given him. “That was one of the scariest things when I found out I got the role,” he says. “They tell me, ‘By the way, you need to learn these three songs. The role was for a lead guitar player, and I’m more of a rhythm guitar player. So for nine hours, I’m trying to learn these mp3s of my guitar parts turned up.”
Blackford made it to the set in Nashville, schooled in his parts. He found the show’s stars, like Hayden Panettiere, to be gracious and welcoming. He got his first taste of Hollywood, as he got a different hair and makeup artist than the rest of the backing band for Panettiere’s character because Blackford had a speaking part. And his scene went off without a hitch.
The episode aired January 16, and Blackford hopes it’s just the start. “Kind of the way that show has worked is that guitar players have jumped around from band to band,” he says. “I’m holding out hope that it will turn into more.”
But he can at least cross one goal off of his list for now. “That was a goal of mine, to land a large profile role, like on an episodic,” he says. “Just to experience it on a bigger stage, just to see how the bigger machine works.”
NC State University, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association will recognize some of NC State’s greatest stars tonight at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., honoring 18 alumni and friends of the university for their professional and personal accomplishments and their continuing support of NC State, the Wolfpack Club and the Alumni Association.
The honorees at the 9th Annual NC State Evening of Stars are:
COLLEGE DISTINGUISHED AWARD RECIPIENTS
Tommy Bunn ‘66, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Bunn, president of the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, has spent more than 45 years in the tobacco industry. He got his start growing tobacco on his family farm, then went on to work for 21 years as executive vice president of the Leaf Tobacco Exporters Association and the Tobacco Association of the United States. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Agriculture, and was a charter member and chairman of the Golden Leaf Foundation Board of Directors.
Charlie Stuber ‘65 PhD, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: For more than 35 years, Stuber held a joint appointment as a genetics professor at NC State and a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Stuber then came out of retirement to return to NC State in 2006 to develop and direct the Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics. The USDA Agricultural Research Service named him the Outstanding Scientist of the Year in 1989 and inducted Stuber into their Science Hall of Fame in 1989.
Steven Schuster ‘73, College of Design: Schuster is the founding principal of Clearscapes, a full-service architectural design firm in Raleigh. Under Schuster’s leadership, Clearscapes has been recognized with more than 75 design awards and worked on such notable projects as the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, the Haw River Ball Room, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Contemporary Art Museum. Schuster is also a national leader in the historic preservation community. He serves on the Board of Visitors at NC State.
Robert Bridges ‘70 MED, College of Education: Bridges taught sixth grade and then high school in Wake County before becoming principal at Crosby-Garfield Elementary School. He then went on to work in Wake County’s central office as a director, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent before becoming the superintendent in 1984. After five years leading the state’s second largest public school system, Bridges went on to become provost at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, and then worked as an education and management consultant and chaired the N.C. Advisory Commission on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps.
Stephen Angel, ‘77, College of Engineering: Angel is chair, president and CEO of Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 300 company that ranks as the largest industrial gases producer and distributor in North and South America, with sales of $11 billion in 2011. Before joining Praxair, Angel spent more than two decades at GE, most recently as general manager of the company’s $2 billion power equipment business. He serves on the board of directors of the U.S.-China Business Council and PPG Industries, and is a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council and the U.S.-Brazil Forum.
Jimmy Clark ‘74, College of Engineering: Clark is the owner and president of Guy M. Turner, Inc., a diversified company that is a leader in the handling and moving of the heaviest equipment in the fields of rigging, machine tool installation, crane services and specialized transportation. The company has 12 offices in the United States and Canada. Clark serves on the NC State Board of Trustees, as well as on the board of directors for the NC State Alumni Association and the Engineering Foundation. He previously chaired the NC State Board of Visitors.
John Edmond ‘87, College of Engineering: While earning his PhD in material sciences and engineering, Edmond teamed with other graduate students and young faculty on some promising silicon carbide research. Upon graduation, the group co-founded what became CREE Inc., one of the world’s top LED manufacturers. Today, Edmond is director of advanced optoelectronics for the Durham-based company, which makes energy-efficient LED lights, lighting components and semiconductor products.
Susan Warren Rabon ‘82, College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Rabon is a member of the N.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates the rates and services of all of the state’s public utilities. Rabon, who received her law degree from the University of Virginia, has also worked as a clerk in the N.C. Court of Appeals, as special counsel and then chief of staff for the N.C. Department of Justice, and senior assistant for administration in the office of the governor. She has previously served on the NC State Board of Visitors.
Kevin Beasley ‘79, Poole College of Management: Beasley, a CPA, is a partner-in-charge of tax practice at the Raleigh office of Grant Thornton, one of the Big Six international accounting firms. He previously worked at Arthur Anderson, where he rose to the position of partner and earned a spot in the inaugural class of the NC State Accounting Hall of Fame.
Ray Tanner ‘80, College of Natural Resources: Tanner, a former All-ACC baseball player at NC State, was named athletics director for the University of South Carolina last year after spending 25 years as a collegiate head baseball coach, including nine years as the head coach at NC State. Under Tanner’s direction, the baseball team at South Carolina won two NCAA Division I Baseball Championships and made six appearances in the College World Series. Tanner has been named National Coach of the Year three times.
Sung Won Lee, ‘60 MS, ‘67 PhD, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences: After earning his graduate degrees at NC State, Lee returned to his native South Korea to lead the S-Oil Corporation to success as the third largest oil refinery in Korea. He also served as chairman of two South Korean chemical companies. But his passion is downhill skiing, and his family built Korea’s oldest and largest ski and snowboard resort, which will host alpine skiing events for the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics. Lee is founder and president of the Asian Ski Federation, former vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia and honorary president of the Korean Ski Association.
Michael Fralix ‘00 PhD, College of Textiles: Fralix is the president and CEO of [TC]2, a company that develops next generation supply chain technologies such as 3-D body scanners used in product development for apparel and equipment, made-to-measure clothing, clothing size and style recommendations and body shape analysis.
Dr. Laura Rush ‘97 DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine: Rush began her career as a registered nurse, specializing in the care of cancer patients, before going to vet school. Following graduation, she joined the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and headed a laboratory funded by the National Institute of Health that focused on cancer research in dogs and humans. Rush now works as vice president and associate medical director for GSW Worldwide, a healthcare marketing firm where she helps develop marketing strategies for healthcare companies.
WOLFPACK CLUB AWARD
Nora Lynn Finch, Ronnie Shavlik Award: Finch was a pioneer for collegiate women’s athletics, serving as the ACC’s first female assistant athletics director and negotiated the first women’s basketball tournament television contract with CBS. At NC State, Finch served as head volleyball and softball coach, associate head coach for women’s basketball, and assistant, associate and senior associate athletics director. She is currently the ACC’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball operations and senior women’s administrator. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Ryan DeJong ‘05, Outstanding Young Alumnus: DeJong, chief operating officer of FIRM Consulting Group, has led the Tampa NC State Alumni Network since 2007. As network leader, DeJong has aggressively promoted his alma mater and the Alumni Association. He recruits and manages volunteers to staff local college fairs and plans many types of group activities for his fellow Tampa Wolfpackers.
Sherice Nivens ‘98, Outstanding Young Alumnus: Nivens, cardiac sales manager for Intuitive Surgical, is a member of the PAMS Alumni and Friends Advisory Board and a founding member of the Dean’s Circle. She served as the keynote speaker for the 2009 Department of Chemistry graduation ceremony and the 2010 Society of African American Physical and Mathematical Scientists annual banquet.
Bill Collins ‘54, ‘61 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Collins, a world renowned expert in tobacco field production, was a Philip Morris Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 28 years. Since retiring in 2005, Collins joined the CALS Office of College Advancement as senior director of development. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Alumni Association.
Judi Grainger ‘72 MS, Meritorious Service Award: Grainger served as president of the Alumni Association board of directors in 2011 and served for a total of 14 years on the board. She also serves on the NC State Board of Visitors, the College of Education Advisory Board and the board of directors of The State Club.
Aaron Swart has always looked for opportunities to help others. He calls it a “spirit of service.”
And it is in that spirit that Swart, a 1996 graduate of the Poole College of Management, started the Panorama Personal Development Group in 2010 after working in the corporate world for several years. Swart is president and CEO of the Raleigh-based company, which works to “establish sustainability in talent acquisition and development, employee engagement, and retention.”
For Swart, that means helping people find and keep jobs and careers that fit their strengths and passions. He does that by guiding them through a self-evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses, helping them determine their own “brand” identity and then guiding them in communicating that effectively through their resume and online presence on sites such as LinkedIn.
“When people are secure in their own strengths and weaknesses and confident in their own brand, those people will get the jobs and be more competitive,” Swart says. “They know themselves. They know their skill sets, what they can offer the company.”
It can be difficult, Swart says, to get people to recognize their own strengths. “A lot of folks have been told through the years what their weaknesses are,” he says. “I really try to help them focus on the strengths they have. But it’s so natural to them that they may not realize it. When you put words to them, sometimes that can be very surprising to them.”
Swart then helps his clients write what he calls “your value statement,” a description of their core strengths that might fit on a marketing brochure. “You talk about what you’re good at, talk about what you’re going to do and talk about what the results will be,” he says.
Once that is done, clients are ready to communicate their brand to potential employers. A critical piece of that, Swart says, is a smart presence on LinkedIn. He will focus on how to do that as one of the speakers at the Career Services Webinar Series being held by the Alumni Association. Swart’s online sessions about how to use LinkedIn are scheduled for Jan. 22 and Feb. 12. To register, click here.
“LinkedIn is the crucial vehicle to let your brand come alive or die,” Swart says. “A lot of employers are going to LinkedIn and Facebook, trying to find out what you are about, what you are saying, what you are not saying. They need to see your brand consistency, that you are speaking the same language and that you are focused on who you are and what you can do.”
Helping people do that comes back to Swart’s notion of service.
“My goal, in the spirit of service, is to help people build relationships that will translate into success,” he says.
Markus Kuhn rushes Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. AP Photo/Evan Pinkus.
New York Giants defensive lineman Markus Kuhn says that whenever he sees former Giants great Michael Strahan, the two joke about a link from their geographical pasts.
“I kid him that Germany produces great linemen for the New York Giants,” Kuhn says, laughing.
Strahan lived in Germany as a child, the son of a U.S. Army man. But Kuhn, who played football for the Wolfpack from 2007-2011, hails from Weinheim, Germany and, he says, is only the third German player ever to reach the league.
“I’m the second German playing right now in the NFL,” he says. “And I was the first German at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.”
Sporting life in Weinheim pretty much meant that Kuhn could find an athletic outlet in soccer, Germany’s most popular sport. (He says football in Germany is less popular than soccer is in the United States). But it wasn’t until he was 14 years old and vacationed in Florida that Kuhn found his true calling. He remembers seeing a football game on television and thinking it was cool that there were these large guys hitting each other at full force. “I thought it fit my personality,” he says.
Kuhn at NC State. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
So Kuhn returned to Germany and started playing linebacker and defensive end for a club team, the Weinheim Longhorns, when he was 15. He played for four seasons, racking up tackles and multiple all-star honors.
It was then that he decided to bring his game to America. Kuhn and his father traveled to smaller programs like Liberty University and to larger programs like NC State, armed with his translated transcripts and a highlight DVD in hand. He immediately fell in love with the Wolfpack.
“The school was one of the friendliest and most open,” he says.
Kuhn was taken in the seventh round of last April’s NFL draft by the Giants, who already had former Wolfpackers Sean Locklear and Andre Brown on their roster. Kuhn, 26, has played in every game and continues to learn something new, like different blocking schemes from offensive lineman, with every snap.
And he talks about his learning curve and his success with an appreciation for the somewhat absurd way his story has unfolded.
“It’s a pretty unusual story and sometimes I can’t believe where I am right now,” he says. “For an American kid playing in high school, it’s very unrealistic. If you’re a German kid playing in Germany, it just doesn’t happen.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable.”
The Caldwell Fellows managed to raise more money for Habitat for Humanity at this year’s Shack-A-Thon on the Brickyard than they did last year.
With just 71 members, the Caldwell team was significantly smaller than many of the other student organizations that took part in Shack-A-Thon. But the Caldwells still managed to finish third by raising $3,682.50 — about $1,000 more than they raised last year. The Poole College of Management team raised the winning total of $8,222.50.
The Caldwell Fellows boosted their efforts this year with the help of local businesses and various fundraising events during the week of Shack-A-Thon.
“Last year, we introduced a raffle drawing as a new way to bring in donations for Shack-A-Thon, and it was a resounding success,” says Brian Schuster, the Caldwell Fellows team coordinator. “We continued the tradition this year, and we’ve seen many other teams begin to adopt this strategy as well. This has likely been the largest contributor to our increased fundraising.”
Schuster says the team raffled off several prizes, including a five-course meal for two at Bida Manda, a Laotian restaurant in downtown Raleigh, a gift certificate to Noodles & Company and gift baskets from Burt’s Bees. During the week of Shack-A-Thon, the Caldwell Fellows hosted a Friday night cookout and a Build Day lunch for students and parents to supplement their fundraising. They also received support from the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Schuster says the NC State campus is becoming even more engaged in the Shack-A-Thon spirit.
“Overall the level of competitiveness has jumped up quite a bit since last year,” he says. “I don’t have access to the historical fundraising data, but from what I’ve seen over the past four years, 2012 could have definitely been record-breaking.”
For Schuster, a senior, this year’s Shack-a-Thon will be his last at NC State.
“It’s going to be tough to leave all of this behind,” he says. “Activities like this outside of class have been one of the most rewarding parts of being a student at NC State. Fortunately, I know the competition will live on even if I’m across the country. I look forward to seeing how the team does next year.”
– Jamie Gnazzo
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.
For Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick ‘01, a typical work week consists of meeting with advertisers, working with event planners and managing finances. When she gets a free minute outside of the office, she rolls up her sleeves and lets her creative juices flow as shebakes cupcakes for dessert lovers in the Raleigh area.
Coleman Fitzpatrick is the owner and head baker at the Cupcake Shoppe on Glenwood Avenue, the first cupcake bakery in the Raleigh area. Coleman, who majored in business administration at NC State, has been in love with baking for as long as she can remember.
“I have always had a passion for baking, and cupcakes just seemed like something even more special,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “Who doesn’t love their very own piece of cake?”
After spending her first six years out of college doing pharmaceutical sales for Johnson & Johnson, Coleman Fitzpatrick decided to take a break from corporate America and begin a different career path during the summer of 2005. She used her business background to create the Cupcake Shoppe, and the doors were open to the public in July 2007.
Coleman Fitzpatrick began the Cupcake Shoppe as a single woman but has since gotten married and recently welcomed her first child.
She has learned that opening a small business is “sort of like raising a child and truly takes a village.”
“My husband, Paul, has become an integral part of the shop and my parents have supported me since day one,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “There have been many days where my parents helped me bake, took deliveries and even helped paint. My husband is a constant presence and his favorite task is to sample the latest flavors and provide feedback.”
While the Cupcake Shoppe’s sweet treats are widely recognized in the Triangle, people across the nation have also become familiar with the company. Coleman Fitzpatrick’s cupcakes have been featured in numerous magazines, including Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, Midtown magazine and The Bride’s Book magazine.
President Barack Obama even knows about the Cupcake Shoppe.
During a town meeting at Broughton High School in 2009, Coleman Fitzpatrick represented small business owners in the Triangle and introduced Obama to a 2,000-person audience.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and surreal is really the only way to describe it,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “It was inspiring to be part of such a monumental event for Raleigh and represent small, local business owners.”
Coleman Fitzpatrick will be one of the many NC State alumni vendors at the Red and White Food and Beverage Festival at the State Club. Although she and her team are still working to finalize the menu for the event, guests can count on sampling the Cupcake Shoppe’s seasonal cupcake, Pumpkin Maple and the “Big Red” cupcake, which will make its debut at the festival in honor of homecoming weekend.
When asked about her favorite memories at NC State, Coleman Fitzpatrick says they almost all revolve around football games and tailgating. “There is nothing better than a crisp fall day and a sea of red and white to make you smile,” she says.
Ever since Coleman Fitzpatrick traded in her career in sales for an apron and a blender, she has experienced numerous bumps in the road. But her passion for baking and the rewarding experiences of owning a small business outweigh the challenges.
“The biggest reward is seeing our customers happy with the product we produce and seeing them return year after year,” Coleman Fitzpatrick says. “We are so proud of the Cupcake Shoppe and and are so fortunate that we get to be a part of our customers lives.”
The Cupcake Shoppe is one of dozens of vendors - including restaurants, farms, breweries, wineries and bakeries - participating in the Red & White Food and Beverage Festival during the week of homecoming. All of the vendors have NC State connections, with alumni as owners or managers. The festival is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, at The State Club in the Park Alumni Center. Visit the festival website to register and see a full list of vendors participating.
In the 21st year of an event that originated on the NC State campus, the Caldwell Fellows are as active as ever in Shack-A-Thon, a week-long effort to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.
The Caldwell Fellows, a group of students selected to participate in a leadership and service scholarship program and the founders of Shack-A-Thon at NC State, have a long track record of raising significant funds for Habitat for Humanity during the event. “There isn’t one year where we weren’t in the top four fundraisers,” says Brian Schuster, the coordinator for the Caldwell Fellows team.
For one week, this year from Sept. 23 to Sept. 29, teams formed by different student organizations on campus live in shacks built around the Brickyard and compete to raise money. Participating teams can also compete in various events throughout the week, such as scavenger hunts, to raise awareness about Habitat for Humanity’s mission.
While Schuster says most teams panhandle to earn donations from students passing through the Brickyard, the Caldwell Fellows are branching out to more professional fundraising this year.
“We’ve started, for the past few weeks, going to alumni and parents and students to reach out and ask for donations,” Schuster says. “We’re also planning a raffle and a cookout to raise money as well.”
Melvin’s, a hamburger joint on Hillsborough Street, donated a trip to Cancun as the grand prize for the Caldwell Fellows’ raffle last year as well as coupons to their restaurant for the team to pass out in the Brickyard. Schuster says he hopes his team, which sold 815 raffle tickets to 132 students last year, can encourage even more businesses to make donations this year.
The Caldwell Fellows team raised $2,400 during the 2011 Shack-A-Thon event, and now aim to double that total. “Our goal is to be number one and to do that we need to pass the College of Management, which usually takes first place,” Schuster says. “Last year they raised $4,000 so we want to pass that.”
To contribute to Habitat for Humanity through the Caldwell Fellows, visit their website.
With 17 student organization teams competing in this year’s event, the NC State chapter of Habitat for Humanity has increased the overall fundraising goal for Shack-A-Thon to $25,000. Schuster says the money students raise is used efficiently.
“There are a lot of people who can’t afford houses, but Habitat is giving them a leg up, not a handout,” he says. “It’s a way to prop people up, but they’re doing things for themselves in the long run.”
Schuster, who has participated in Shack-A-Thon for the past three years and has served as an officer for the NC State chapter of Habitat for Humanity, says the event has always been well received by the campus community.
“A lot of people really enjoy it because it brings spirit to the Brickyard, and hopefully it helps people become more aware of the issue of substandard housing,” he says. “It’s an issue that’s present not only in other places but here in Wake County as well so it’s important to keep that in mind.”
– Jamie Gnazzo
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.
About two dozen young alumni visited the Park Alumni Center last week looking for a little help.
They found it in the form of Catherine Tuttle ‘03, alumni career services coordinator for the Alumni Association, and a crew of career counselors from NC State’s Career Development Center and the Poole College of Management.
Catherine Tuttle '03 meets with a young alum
Tuttle arranged for the young alumni, who were on campus for a weekend of activities sponsored by the Young Alumni Council, to get 30-minute sessions with a career counselor. It was a chance for a quick resume review and some suggestions about how to go about looking for a new job.
“Most of the folks were really appreciative,” says Tuttle. “It was fun.”
Tuttle said most of the alumni were employed, but hoping to change jobs. A couple were unemployed and looking for that first job, while some were eager to find a job that would bring them back to North Carolina.
Career counseling is one of the benefits of membership in the Alumni Association. Members are eligible for two 45-minute sessions, and also have access to the association’s alumni director and job posting board. To schedule a counseling session, contact Tuttle at email@example.com or 919-515-0520.
Tuttle says many job hunters underestimate the value of networking. “People get stuck behind the computer,” she says. “They apply for a job online, and then don’t follow up.”
Tuttle encourages job seekers to try to find contacts within a company or organization where they would like to work. She acknowledges that it can be a time-consuming process, but that it often yields results.
“Get out from behind the computer,” she says, “and put a face with the resume.”
Eugene Park ‘99 never imagined having any interest in biking or studying abroad when he was an NC State undergraduate student in business management. But this past June, Park spent 10 days riding his bike from Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean along ancient slave-trade routes to raise money for orphaned children in Africa.
Park was part of a 20-person team participating in RideTZ, a 400-mile bike ride that takes place every two years in Tanzania, East Africa, to raise money for The Foundation for Tomorrow (TFFT), a non-profit organization which provides scholarships and support for orphaned children. The trip is an extension of TFFT and was launched in July 2010.
Meghann Gunderman, the founder and executive director of TFFT, is a friend of Park’s and was one of the main reasons he got involved.
“After hearing about Meghann and her fiancee’s experiences and stories from their recent trip to Africa, I was inspired,” Park says. “It sparked me to get involved and do something that would make a difference.”
Park spent more than a year preparing for the trip and raising a minimum of $3,000 to be used for scholarships for the children. He also began training for the physical challenges of the philanthropy event. He picked up mountain bike last summer and took spin classes to help with his endurance.
“I knew everything would come naturally and I would have the ability to adapt to new surroundings, situations and environments,” Park says. “I just had to prepare myself mentally for this epic experience.”
After arriving to Tanzania in June, the adventure continued to be a growing experience. In order to complete the 400-mile trip in 10 days, Park and his team biked approximately 40 miles a day.
“For ten days we woke up at 5 a.m. and were biking by 7 a.m.,” Park says. “Some days were easier than others, depending on the weather and the terrain.”
Along the way, the group spent time visiting and playing with children in the orphanages, meeting local people in the villages, learning Swahili, climbing the Usambara Mountains and swimming in the Indian Ocean on the last day.
“I learned that getting out of your comfort zone and doing something to make a difference in other people’s lives is not only humbling but very rewarding,” Park says. “I gave my blood, sweat and tears for The Foundation for Tomorrow, RideTZ and the kids.”
Matt Salome was hoping to find a way into the business side of sports when he received his MBA from NC State this May. Little did he know that some work he did in class would be the key to open the door.
Salome loves sports, so when one of his professors told him this spring about someone looking for students to do some sports-related market research, Salome jumped at the chance. The “client” in this case was Michael Wranovics, the founder and CEO of something known as the Basketball Alumni Legends League, or The-BALL.
Wranovics’ plans are to create a league of basketball teams based in college-basketball hotbeds — like Raleigh — comprised of players who have finished their college eligibility but not made it to the NBA. The idea is to give those players a chance to continue playing in front of fans who are familiar with them from their college days. The goal is to have the league up and running by next summer.
But The-BALL is starting with a “soft launch” of two games this summer, a home-and-home series between teams from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. And that’s where Salome comes back into the picture.
Salome did so much market research for Wranovics that he turned it into an independent study course. Not long after Salome graduated in May, Wranovics told him he could still use his help as the league was preparing for the two games this summer. He offered to pay Salome to move to Philadelphia and work with the league through early August, when the games will be played.
And so Salome had a foot in the door of the sports world.
“I do a little bit of everything, literally everything,” Salome says. That includes getting press releases out, doing social media for the league, managing the league’s Web site, taking care of press credentials for the two games, etc. “I’m kind of his right hand man for getting stuff done,” he says of Wranovics.
Unlike the NBA’s development league, The-BALL plans to put teams in college towns and stock them with players from the area. A Raleigh team, for example, would feature former players from NC State, UNC, Duke and other universities in North Carolina. The Washington team that will play this summer will have players from Georgetown, Maryland, George Mason and other area universities.
“There is a tremendous amount of talent that, for whatever reason, doesn’t make it to the NBA,” Salome says. “This is an opportunity to showcase some of those former college players.”
Salome says the league will also give fans a chance to keep up with some of their favorite players from their alma mater. “These guys will be playing in front of the crowds that are used to cheering for them,” he says.
Salome is enjoying the work, and hopes it evolves into a full-time job.
“How cool is it,” he asks, “to be able to say that I’m helping to launch a basketball league?”