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Catawba College Sport Management Alumni in the Midst of a Pandemic

October 6, 2020

Category: Academics, Alumni, Sport & Health Sciences

by Emma White '21

Uncertainty; that’s the word that everyone seems to use to describe this year. Whether you were moved to remote learning, began working from home, or whatever your situation may be, chances are you have been impacted by the uncertainty that COVID-19 has placed in our lives. Catawba College Sport Management Alumni have continued to excel with their roles in sport. Each of these alumni have their own story on how the pandemic has altered their lives. 

“It was hard to imagine life without sports until 2020 happened.  But now as sports are slowly returning, we are seeing our sport management students not only excelling in their current roles, but being asked to do more with less, think creatively, and be willing to change directions at a moment’s notice.  The sport management department couldn’t be more proud of the leadership and flexibility they are showing through these crises.  People need sports in their lives and our alumni are delivering it to them!”- Troy Carlton, Professor of Sport Management at Catawba College 

Here are a few stories on some Catawba College Sport Management Alumni and how they have persevered through the pandemic: 

tannerwhitt.jpgTanner Whitt ‘18, Graphic Design Coordinator at Duquesne University
Tanner is currently working his graphic design role with Duquesne University from home. Just like most everyone else, Tanner was sent to work remotely in mid-March. However, it was no problem for Tanner since everything he does is online anyways. When Tanner was asked about his feelings towards his job and the pandemic he said this, “When I was at Duquesne, I would just be in an office all day in front of a computer, doing my work and so when I’m at home, I’m pretty much in front of a computer all day. It’s honestly very similar.” Therefore, work for Tanner has not really changed a whole lot. After things settled down from going remote, Tanner’s main focus has been on the graphics package for Duquesne’s 2020-2021 academic year. Tanner continues to develop graphics for Duquesne and promote fan cut-outs on social media. Additionally, Tanner is working on the design of Duquesne’s fan from home box, in which you can see on Duquesne’s athletics Twitter page in the coming weeks.

emilygoddard.jpgEmily Goddard ’19, Sales and Retail Coordinator at Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
There were a lot of sports canceled this past year. Of the sports that were canceled, Minor League Baseball was also impacted. The minor league season got canceled in July, this was after most employees with the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers had already started working from home. While Emily Goddard has been impacted by the pandemic, she says that her work for the Cannon Ballers has continued. The team organization realized through the pandemic that there’s more to a minor league baseball team besides just baseball. The restaurants and team store within the ballpark have continued to be open. Therefore, Emily’s position as Retail Coordinator has continued to thrive. Emily said this about her summer experience without baseball, “It’s been busy without baseball.” Even though baseball has not been going on, Kannapolis has taken the opportunity to invite the community in to eat, socialize and find out more about the Cannon Ballers. The Cannon Ballers hope to start the minor league baseball season as normal in April of 2021.  Go make your way to the Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis and see what the team and Emily Goddard have been up to through the pandemic.

mckenzie-garrison.jpgMcKenzie Garrison ’17, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)
McKenzie Garrison continues to pull through this difficult time by inspiring student-athletes in her work for the NJCAA. McKenzie shared her whirl wind of a story in how her career and her organization were impacted. McKenzie says that she was traveling to the DIII Women’s Basketball Championship in Illinois when everything changed. She said that she left Charlotte as normal and when she landed, she got word that the game could be played, but without fans. However, just a few hours later every championship game was called off. The organization later called for employees to begin working remotely. McKenzie and the NJCAA continued to keep people engaged through the social media campaign, #NJCAAforward. The organization has continued their promotion not only through social media, but the NJCAA network as well. During quarantine, McKenzie worked with the NJCAA in showing videos of what their student-athletes were up to at home to keep people engaged as well. As of right now, McKenzie says that the only sport going on is cross country. However, spring sports are scheduled to start for practice and competition. Therefore, McKenzie said, “We’ll go from having 52 championships spread out over about 3 months to having 46 championships within the span of about 2 months.” Through times like these it’s hard to imagine normal again. Therefore, student-athletes just being able to play and be promoted at all is very exciting for McKenzie and the NJCAA.

alixguynn.jpgAlix Guynn ’11, Associate Athletic Director-Student Athlete Support Services at Radford University Athletics
Student-athlete success is something that is 365 days a year, COVID-19 or not. At least that’s how it is for Alix Guynn. For Alix, the pandemic has impacted her and the students she supports on a daily basis. However, it has not slowed her down in making an impact in those student-athletes' lives. Alix said that when the pandemic first began back in March, Radford was set to host the men’s and women’s basketball tournament for the Big South. During that week everything spiraled out of control, Radford already had 6 teams from the Big South in town ready to play in the tournament. However, the news came out that everything had to be shut down during the middle of pre-game warmups. Alix said this, “In working with athletics you have to be ready to act on the fly, but this was something completely different.” There is no Sport Management textbook that prepares you for this kind of thing. Radford eventually moved to online classes in March, which placed a heavy load on Alix. She had to continue to help students navigate through the rest of the semester remotely through facetime, phone calls, zoom, etc. She said that the biggest thing was making sure student-athletes' mental health was under control, especially with senior student-athletes with getting their season cut short. Radford has postponed fall sports, in hopes to play all fall and spring sports in the Spring of 2021. Alix says, “COVID-19 has thrown a lot of wrenches into things.” However, she continues to persevere in making sure those student-athletes at Radford continue to prosper and grow through these difficult times to come out stronger than before. 

brandonfloyd.jpgBrandon Floyd ’17, NCAA Leadership Development Postgraduate
Brandon Floyd has not only survived being in the midst of a pandemic, he actually started working with the NCAA during it as well. Brandon accepted the position prior to the pandemic and was extremely blessed that the NCAA didn’t cut the program, like several other organizations did. Brandon says that his days consist of a lot of meetings with various people with the NCAA, student-athletes, coaches, administrators, etc. Brandon went on to say that work is somewhat hybrid right now. In that, if they wish to go to the office, they sign up the week before and are allowed to go on that specific day. Brandon’s main focus has been working on the Division III Ethnic Minority and Women’s Grant Orientation. This is Brandon’s first program that he has put on since being at the NCAA and he was also able to create a graphic for this and have it on the DIII social media. Brandon said, “it has been about finding creative ways to interact with people on a screen.” 


joshstewart.jpgJosh Stewart ’18, Ambassador at FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes & Assistant Varsity Track Coach at BCA (Burlington Christian Academy) 
Through the pandemic, things may have slowed down for some people. However, the encouragement that student-athletes need from people like, Josh Stewart has not slowed down. In fact, it’s more needed than ever. Josh has been able to continue his sport leadership roles through the pandemic in both his positions at FCA and BCA. At FCA, he has been working on ways to keep athletes engaged during this time. Josh says the organization has started doing what they call, “huddles”, which allows for ambassadors, such as Josh to meet with athletes on weekends to keep them motivated through this tough time. When the pandemic first hit, Josh’s coaching position at BCA was impacted because of the team getting ready to compete at the state level and then of course, the season got canceled. The track team began using a website called, “” to hold virtual track meets and this helped them to do everything they could virtually. The track team at BCA is currently able to compete. Josh said this about the pandemic, “COVID-19 has been a major, major challenge I’ve seen in the collegiate, middle and high school levels, trying to adapt, adjust and overcome this.” When Josh was asked about what his workload has been like through the pandemic he said, “You spend more time planning during a pandemic.” Even though Josh’s workload has been about the same through the pandemic, it has been tough because he has had to plan more, plan again and think creatively. 

Tom Appenzeller, retired Sport Management Professor at Catawba College had this to say about the alumni mentioned, “In reading the profiles of the Sport Management graduates there were certain common denominators that came to the surface. The graduates used terms such as creativity, versatility, perseverance, navigation, and preparation to describe their work. 

In 2011, the late Steve Jobs stated that "technology alone is not enough - it's technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing." I believe it is the Sport Management curriculum along with Catawba College's emphasis on the liberal arts that has allowed these young graduates to succeed in the most trying of times.

To paraphrase Mr. Jobs, it is the Sport Management program married to the liberal arts that allows are majors to be successful under any circumstances.”

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