By Ryan Greenwald
The first place we visited today was NASCAR’s Los Angeles office. We met with Phil Metz who is the Senior Director of Entertainment, Marketing, and Music. Before joining NASCAR, he had worked in the music industry for 10 years. He is currently on his 11th year with NASCAR. Mr. Metz has three main purposes with the company. The first is that he is in charge of getting celebrity guest appearances, have NASCAR infiltrate television as frequently as possible, and lastly to produce movies based on NASCAR most notably Talladega Nights. NASCAR is the number one motorsport in the country and has the most loyal fan base of any sport. He explained how NASCAR is very unique from other sports because every driver is independently contracted to the team they race for and have no direct contract with NASCAR. He also went on to explain how the Chase, which is the end of the Sprint Cup Series, is changing to a 16 car race and after each race more racers will be eliminated until there are 4 cars left and the winner of that race wins the championship. After NASCAR we went to UCLA for a trip down memory lane.
We started off our adventure at UCLA’s student center. Their student center had a variety of dining options ranging from Jamba Juice to Panda Express. After a great lunch we met up with Rayna Linowes a recent SU alum, Bill Bennett, Keith Erickson. Mr. Erickson played for Coach John Wooden and shared a variety of stories about how great of a man he was and how his coaching techniques were uniquely amazing. The world really lost a great man in John Wooden. There is one quote that summed up the type of man he was is “Their has never been a finer coach in our countries history nor has there been a finer man.” After speaking with Mr. Erickson we watched a video summarizing the life of John Wooden and the strength of his relationship with his wife. He is the type of man that every person should strive to emulate. After the video we toured the UCLA Hall Of Fame and the number of National Championship trophies astonished me. Not only do they have more Division I National Championships than any other program, but the amount of Hall of Fame athletes that attended UCLA is unbelievable. UCLA has not only a great sports program, but a great campus and it was a great pleasure to tour the beautiful grounds.
By Adam Rothstein
Today should be defined by two words: John Wooden. Walking onto the UCLA campus, I was awestruck by the beauty of the campus. We met up with Bill Bennett, the Sports Information Director at UCLA who hosted us for the afternoon and served as our tour guide. We walked into the original gym where John Wooden coached his first team day in and day out. We saw his chalkboard where he wrote up his first plays to lead the UCLA team to victory. The history in this gym was more than I have ever seen at one point in time. We then walked into the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion, which was absolutely beautiful. The amount of championship banners hanging from the rafters just proved to me how dominant UCLA is as an entire sports entity. To be more specific, UCLA hoists 110 National Championships, more than any other Division 1 sports team in the entire country. We met up with Rayna Linowes who is a Syracuse SPM graduate that attended this trip and ended up getting a job in the marketing department at UCLA Athletics. She talked to us about all of her experiences and everything she did in order to land this impressive opportunity.
The highlight of the day happened next when we walked into the UCLA Hall of Fame and met with Keith Erickson, a former UCLA basketball player and a member of the first championship team under John Wooden in 1964. He also won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972 with the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. The stories that he shared about Coach John Wooden were absolutely amazing. He praised how not only he was such a great coach but how he was an even better person. Coach Wooden won ten championships in twelve years and goes down as one of the best and most influential coaches in college basketball history. When he retired his home was open to anyone who wanted to visit and talk to him,. He talked to people like families and high school volleyball players to Hall of Fame Athletes and other iconic coaches. He signed anything that came his way and was a role model to almost anyone that knew him. The story that stuck out to me most was one interaction with the legend Bill Walton (who we will be speaking with tomorrow). It was Walton’s senior year and he was coming off of an MVP season. Coach John Wooden had a rule that everyone’s hair had to be cut and they had to be cleanly shaven. Walton strutted into practice, as the star he was with his hair in a ponytail and some hair on his face. Coach Wooden, while talking to another player called him over and said, “If you don’t shave within fifteen minutes, you are off the team.” Coach Wooden then turned and continued his previous conversation without saying another word. Walton looked around and without further ado, ran into the team room and shaved his face and hair. This shows just how respected Wooden was not only as a coach but also as a person.
It is hard to put into words how powerful the experience with Mr. Erickson was. He truly portrayed to us just how amazing Mr. Wooden was as a person and how impactful he was on college basketball. He shared with us many quotes that Coach Wooden shared with his players. My favorite quote and one that I will try to live by for the rest of my life is “Make each day your masterpiece.” Don’t worry about yesterday because it is over and you can’t change anything that happened. Instead, focusing on making today the best day you can.
As we sit on the bus on our way to the Staples Center to watch the Suns battle the Clippers, I can’t help but continue to think about how many more amazing experiences we are going to have on this trip of a lifetime.
By Brittany Gregory
Next, we met with Philip Metz at NASCAR. Philip Metz is the Senior Director of Entertainment Marketing and Music. His job at NASCAR is to integrate celebrities and popular faces of pop culture with the NASCAR brand. In other words, Philip Metz manages outside talent bookings and arrangements at NASCAR events with the hope of increasing exposure by reaching different audiences through the outside talent’s pre-established target audience. In our meeting, he also went into great detail explaining what the different races are and what their qualification requirements are for the drivers, as well as how sponsorship and marketing work within NASCAR.
After lunch in UCLA’s student union, we met with Rayna Linowes. Rayna is a graduate of Syracuse University who was recently hired as a marketing assistant at UCLA Athletics. This season, she is overseeing the marketing strategies of baseball and track and field. Two of the most valuable pieces of advice she gave us were to always ask questions and to know the people you are working with. She stated that once you have built a strong network within your company or whatever environment you are in, it will make your job more enjoyable.
Also at UCLA, we met with Keith Erickson. Keith Erickson played basketball at UCLA under Coach John Wooden’s lead. John Wooden was an extremely influential leader not only for his team, but also across the UCLA campus and nationwide. Coach John Wooden was known for the structure and success of his program and his selflessness as not only a coach, but also as a great person. Keith Erickson shared with us some of the highlights of his career, and some of his most memorable moments with Coach Wooden before his death in 2010.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we went to the Staples Center to see a Los Angeles Clippers game versus the Phoenix Suns. At the Staples Center, it was quite interesting to observe the many elements of sponsorship involved at the venue and by the team specifically.
By C’Ara McCrae