Rowan Sports Communication & Media Club offers students the chance to connect with professionals and students

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The Rowan Sports Communication & Media Club has found its way onto the scene at Rowan University.

As of this week, the Rowan Student Government Association (SGA) sent the “go” to the club and its members, validating it as such. Now, as an approved club, they must meet requirements in order to sustain their status, such as having two hours of community service per member for each semester.

“The SGA actually reached out to us this morning [Monday] letting us know that it’s finally finished being positioned and now we are an official club on campus,” said Shannon McPeak, President of the club. “As far as the service opportunities, however, many members we have involved with the club, each member has to have two hours of service for the semester.”

The club offers a place for sports enthusiasts, aspiring members of the sports community and more chances to connect with professionals and fellow classmates to, well, talk sports.

“As a committee, we felt validated by the interest because we thought, ‘Okay, they do want this, they do want a place where they can have the social element and talk sports and do it outside of the classroom,’ which is what I think is so vital because what we are doing inside of the classroom is important but I wanted them to have that space where they could just talk to each other, talk about sports and a bunch of other stuff,” said Rowan professor and founder of the club Kate Harman. “I want it to be academic, something they can put on their resume. Something that they are proud of.”

Perhaps the biggest thing that the club offers is “Pizza with the Pros.” Thanks to great connections from Harman, as well as Dr. John Giannini, head of the Center for Sports Communication and Social Impact, the organization has themselves on the right track with the pizza festivity.

“One of the most major things we are working on is getting professionals to come in and talk with people that are involved with the club or in the major and minors,” McPeak said. “So, Dr. Giannini and professor Harman have been working with “Pizza for Pros” which is every Monday, at least for October and moving forward, we will be bringing in professionals to talk to students.”

Giannini, a former men’s basketball head coach at Rowan University as well as the University of Maine and the University La Salle, has worked with professionals in the sports industry for over 15 years and has shown himself nothing short of being committed to the students involved and getting them connected professionally.

“Rowan, as an institution, tries to react quickly to positive opportunities and meeting needs especially those of students,” Giannini said. “The club was one of the indicators that showed strong interest and students wanting to pursue careers in sports communication and media. Kate Harman was the front-runner and leader in the process of putting the club together and getting them involved with meaningful activities… My role is to support the club and the students by creating opportunities for them to learn from professionals in the field and to try to help them gain their own work experiences.”

Just as fresh as the club is the Bachelor of Arts in Sports Communication and Media (CAM). As explained in an email sent earlier in the year by the College of Communications and Creative Arts, it is “An interdisciplinary major spanning four departments—Communication Studies; Journalism; Radio, Television & Film; and Public Relations & Advertising.” Harman was a key contributor to the degree opportunity and for members of the program, this club seems to be right up their alley.

“You could not declare it a major until September 1,” Harman said. “So, this semester is the first semester you could claim it as a major or minor… I guess from December 2016 which is when we kind of started the whole idea of the program until, really, the Spring semester last year, we were trying to figure out what we wanted the major to be, what we wanted to do, who we wanted to be involved and all of the details that we had thought of before and hadn’t thought of before. A big question that I always had was ‘How are we going to include our students?’ Because, to me, the program always had to be about more than just stuff in the classrooms. For me, the easiest way to include students outside of the classroom, my first idea was just a student-run club. I wanted them to be in charge, plan things, just take ownership for all of the events, the programs, everything.”

Harman went to strike interest for the club at a busy time, but was fortunate to find that despite the time of the school year she started spreading the news, member interest flooded in.

“I wasn’t sure what the interest level was going to be,” Harman said. “We talked about it at one of our meetings and I just sent out an email to everyone in the College of Communication and Creative Arts to see if this is something that people even care about because if it was something that people didn’t care about and want to be involved with, we could’ve come up with other ideas I guess. I got really, really strong responses. I emailed people in April when everyone was stressed about finals and papers and the stress of the semester and I still got about 40 people that said ‘Yeah, this is awesome let’s do this.’ And I guess once I got that resounding response, I found myself on the right track.”

Although it is just the first month of meeting for the club, the sky seems to be the limit. Harman hopes to influence schools to follow the trail Rowan aspires to create and make an influential impact in the sports community.

“I think you look at a lot of organizations whether they are college or natural organizations in general,” Harman said. “Like the Association of Women in Sports and the Association of Sports Editors and stuff like that I think are great at community building and giving a sense of identity. I can definitely see how, down the road, it would be really terrific to be able to have clubs at other colleges… I can see how that could be a huge opportunity for our students to be able to meet and connect with like-minded individuals. I would love that. I’d welcome that and I hope that’s the direction we are moving in.”

If you are interested in joining the club, email Dr. John Giannini (giannini@rowan.edu), Kate Harman (harman@rowan.edu) or Shannon McPeak (mcpeaks5@students.rowan.edu). 

For comments/questions about this story, email sports@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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