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2020 North Carolina Road Trip Recap

Wednesday, January 15 2020 10:00am

MSA Class of 2020 traveled to North Carolina to network with alumni on the annual road trip.

By: Quintin Lash

In the 1990s, a few Ohio University Master of Sports Administration (MSA) students decided to take a road trip to North Carolina over spring break to network with a few  sports administration alumni. Over the last nearly 25 years, the North Carolina trip, now known as the Tobacco Road Trip, has evolved from a weeklong getaway into one of the most cherished rites of passage in the MSA program. 

Led by Doc and Shirley Higgins, each year the trip provides MSA students with the opportunity to tour facilities and network with professionals throughout North Carolina. This year, the group made stops in seven different cities at various organizations, including Richard Childress Racing, IMG College, Teall Capital, Teamworks, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Duke University, The Atlantic Coast Conference, Pinehurst Resort and USGA, Elon University, North Carolina State University, PNC Arena, Carolina Hurricanes, Wasserman, and East Carolina University. 

During the Tobacco Road Trip, the students learn directly from successful professionals in the industry. According to Alex Allee, a current MSA student, the insights and advice were amplified by their shared experience as program alumni. 

“All of the speakers had very different advice, but it all resonated. These are people that have been in our exact shoes, and they’ve seen it all come together," she said. "You could tell it was completely authentic, and the things they had to share were things I really needed to hear.”

In addition to professional development opportunities, students also had the opportunity to attend men’s basketball games at Duke, UNC, and Elon, as well a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. Even though members of the MSA class spend time together in the classroom, according to Shayla Phillip, another current MSA student, these games provided an opportunity to get to know her classmates at an even deeper level. 

“We got to see a different side of each other, she said. "Spending so much time together in a new environment gave us a great opportunity to build on our relationships in a completely new setting.”

While this trip was surely an incredible opportunity to learn from professionals and connect with classmates, perhaps the most impactful takeaway from the Tobacco Road Trip was the commitment of alumni to give back to the program. 

“We really got to see the power of the OHIO Family at work. It was obvious how excited the alums were to see us and give back to the program,” said Allee. “Even long after leaving Athens, it was clear that the connection to the program is as strong as ever for our hosts.”

“This trip has gone on for so long. It was such a cool feeling to know that even though it’s evolved over time, it’s still an experience that I share with so many others before me," Phillip added.        

The generosity of the hosts that make this trip possible cannot be understated and stems largely from their experience on the trip as students themselves. What started as a spring break trip 25 years ago has turned into a shared experience that connects generations of Bobcats.