Sport Administration Internship Spotlights
By Julia Greenland
Football fans dream of one day meeting their favorite players and coaches. However, working side-by-side with former NFL football players and coaches is a daily reality for students interning with IMG Academies. James Updike, a senior Sport Administration major at Lock Haven University, spent his summer developing the skills he will need for his future career and networking with the very NFL players and coaches he had seen perform on television.
Updike stated that IMG Academies, located in Bradenton, Florida, is a “multi-sports facility,” and holds weekly camps during the summer for athletes of all ages interested in improving their skills in sports, such as football, tennis, soccer, etc. Updike worked in the Staff Member Operations Department as the Staff Assistant to the IMG Madden Football Academy.
“As staff assistant in the football academy, my responsibilities were helping to set up camps,” said Updike. Setting up camps included providing Gatorade for the athletes, preparing the equipment for use, supplying towels and ball bags, ensuring enough footballs were on demand, and making sure the athletes all had proper footwear. Updike also helped film the practices and camps and then assisted in highlighting the performances of each athlete in the films. The films were given to the athletes to emphasize their improvement from the beginning of the camp to the end.
Updike knew he needed to be open to any challenge thrown his way. “I did whatever my supervisor told me to do,” he said. The supervisor would say jump, and Updike would ask how high. Updike did not mind performing seemingly insignificant tasks, for example making sure the Gatorade and footballs were plentiful. He knew demonstrating responsibility and a strong work ethic would eventually show his superiors he was ready for more demanding responsibilities. “I worked my way up,” he stated.
Updike typically worked six days a week at fourteen hours a day. Each morning he would report to the office where the coaches detailed their daily goals. Updike would then assist the coaches with the day’s first practice and help film the athletes. Next he would break down the films into clips of the individual athletes. When the day’s second practice in the afternoon began, Updike performed the same tasks again. At the day’s conclusion, Updike aided in tearing down the equipment used for practice.
When asked what the coolest thing about his internship was, Updike said, “I got to meet and develop a relationship with Chris Weinke and several other former NFL coaches.” Through his internship, Updike was able to form strong connections for networking in the future. Weinke is the director of the IMG Madden Football Academy and a former football player. Updike was pleased when Weinke volunteered to act as a job reference and offer him a professional position in the expanding football program.
Updike considers his internship experience a success because he gained both valuable experience and valuable networking connections. Updike emphasized the importance of networking, saying that networking will help him find a job and gain entrance into graduate school. The internship also developed his communication skills with high school and college athletes, increased his knowledge with video editing software, and “improved my expertise of running events,” Updike stated.
James Updike found his internship through a contact a professor had with IMG Academies. This connection ensured Updike acquire the internship and gave him an advantage. “It’s all about who you know,” he stated.