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BOCES, Canastota partner on sports management, entertainment marketing program

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 1/12/23

The first year of a brand-new Sports Management and Entertainment Marketing program has been an exciting experience for students from the five school districts.

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BOCES, Canastota partner on sports management, entertainment marketing program


CANASTOTA — The first year of a brand-new Sports Management and Entertainment Marketing program has been an exciting experience for students from the five school districts - with more welcome - who are learning hands-on, real world lessons.

“It’s been a joy so far, as we are navigating these new waters,” said Canastota High School business teacher Jacob Smith, who runs the program with Canastota Educational Coordinator Ronald Otis Jennings.

The two-year, credited program is the first offering of the new Madison-Oneida BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) Sports Innovation Center in partnership with the Canastota Central School District. It is based at the Canastota High School and will explore working in the sports, recreation and entertainment fields.

Smith said they were initially hoping to attract five or six students in their inaugural year and ended up with 20, with 15 hailing from Canastota as well as five from the Oneida, Stockbridge Valley, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and Camden districts.

The program is overseen by MOBOCES Principal of Secondary Programs Molly LiBritz, who said in the next school year the seniors will have the morning class while the juniors will have the afternoon sessions. Internships and shadowing opportunities - specifically relative to the students’ own interests - are also offered for even more first-hand experience in their chosen fields.

“We can only teach so much in the classroom,” LiBritz said.

LiBritz also projected that next year they hope to add a focus on sports training and exercise science as well, with hopes of finding an outdoor physical fitness location for the students. Canastota will remain the hub of the program, she said.

And the program is not just for the districts already involved but open to all 10 component districts of MOBCES, LiBritz added.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota has partnered with the program and provided an invaluable educational asset for the group. They have visited not only the exhibits and the museum there, but learned some behind-the-scenes methodology in its operation.

They have also taken field trips to NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse, the home stadium for the Syracuse Mets, and heard speaker presentations from some of the officials with the baseball team. And coming up over the next few weeks, the students will learn from first-hand accounts of Syracuse Crunch hockey team representatives.

“Working with the Crunch is huge for them,” Jennings assessed.

Camden junior Devin Plourde and Canastota senior Natalie Rissman are two of the students currently in the program.

Plourde said he appreciated that the program is not like a normal classroom setting where students sit and copy notes off the board. He likes being able to go to the Boxing Hall of Fame and to the baseball stadium where he met some of the Mets players. And his communication skills have also improved while being in the program, he added.

“Mr. Jennings and Mr. Smith have taught me a lot,” he said.

Rissman, who was recently accepted to SUNY Fredonia, said she joined the program because she wants to get a job in the music industry. She has talked to professionals in the field thanks to the program, she said, and agreed with Plourde that it has expanded her own ability to communicate with others.

“It has helped me a lot with my communication skills,” she said.

“They have heard from every one of their speakers how important it is to be able to communicate,” Jennings said.

Smith said the students had just taken their latest trip to the Boxing Hall of Fame and visited the archives for a view of the little-seen workings behind the scenes there. They have also learned the impact of a place like the hall of fame on the local community, like how if it expands it can actually lead to benefits to the local economy as well with extra tourist visits.

They also have made posters to advertise upcoming events, created after receiving information from the organizers, Smith noted. That student work will be seen around the community, he said.

In the near future, their work with the Syracuse Crunch team and its management will lead to the students themselves working an event, Smith said. All of this actual in-person learning gives the students educational opportunities they can actually enjoy even as they learn, he noted.

“I think the kids are instantly engaged,” Smith said. “They all know they are in for a fun experience.”


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