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2019 MSA North Carolina Trip Recap

Monday, January 28 2019 11:30am

The MSA Class of 2019 traveled down to North Carolina to network with alumni at various institutions and companies across the state.

By: David Compher

The final semester of the Master of Sports Adminstration (MSA) program started at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, January 8. A typcial chilly, January morning, a rush of tired students carry their suitcases to a commercial bus across the Summit parking lot where they live, lugging them through the ice and snow that had fallen days prior.

As they approach the bus they are greeted by Doc and Shirley Higgins. Shirley stands there holding three boxes of freshly made chocolate chip cookies with a smile on her face, as Doc stands next to her, wearing business professional and shaking the hand of each student. The students pile into the bus, stretching out and making themselves comfortable for what will be a 5- hour drive southward to North Carolina.

For those of you who are not familiar with this scene, thi is the Tobacco Road Trip. The Tobacco Road Trip is an annual experiential learning trip designed for the MSA students to visit universities, businesses, and facilities across the state of North Carolina. Each year, the trip is led by Doc Higgins. It has become a staple of the program - a rich tradition that has gone on for almost 25 years.

This year, the students met with 11 different organizations including, Richard Childress Racing, IMG College, Elon College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Teamworks, The Atlantic Coast Conference, Pinehurst Resort and USGA, North Carolina State University, PNC Arena and Wasserman. The students also had the opportunity of attending many live events such as a North Carolina State Men’s and Women’ Basketball game, a Carolina Hurricanes game and a UNC Chapel Hill Men’s Basketball game in the Dean Smith Center.

Through these experiences, the MSA class had the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge at each stop on the trip, learning new key takeaways and facts about the industry. Lisanne Manders, an international student from the Netherlands, had never visited an on-site NASCAR motorsport team. And after visiting Richard Childress Racing, she was blown away by the growth of the sport and the sponsorship minutiae.

“There are more sponsorship rules that we are conscious of,” she said.

In addition, the Tobacco Road Trip gave students insight into new job fields they had never considered.

“It gives us the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones and our selected lines of interest. It shows us new parts of industries and gets us in touch with the people we may want to be when we ‘grow up’”, said Shelby Brown (MSA ’19).

Most importantly, it gave students the opportunity to see firsthand the Bobcat family give back to their alma mater.

“What impressed me the most was the true appreciation and love each alum held for our class. The Bobcat family is so real and inspiring to me”, said Danielle Davis (MSA '19).

Throughout each stop, the friends and alumni of the #OHIOFamily also displayed their appreciation to Doc Higgins, making it transparent to the current students the legacy he upholds.

“The appreciation for the program, especially Doc, is why they continue to host us each year and it was very humbling to see”, said Natalie Lebamoff (MSA ’19).

The MSA Class of 2019 would like to thank, Jim Kahler, Matt Cacciato, Jason Golden (’01), Lauren Hoffman (‘08), Colleen Oberle (‘16), Adam Raak, Dave Blank, Clint Gwaltney (’95), Michael Beale (‘95), John Montgomery, Mitch Moser (‘90), Gina Bradley (’05), Johnny Moore, Mark Morris (‘12), Faryn Roy (‘12), Mitch Heath, Reggie Jones (‘94), Robert Wade (‘87), Bobby Purcell, Kim Busch, Jeff Abbott, Larry Perkins, Emily Fuller (‘15), Kelley Johnson (‘17) and Kate McGowan (‘13) and especially Doc and Shirley Higgins for making the 2019 Tobacco Road Trip an unforgettable one.