Columbia College students exceeded expectations by raising $3,000 for Relay for Life as part of their hands-on experience in the 2019 Fall Sports & Event Marketing class. Seventeen students began planning in August for an annual event collaborating with Instructor of Business Administration Brandi Herrman. This year’s charity kickball tournament, Cougars Kickin’ Cancer, took place on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Herrman has held four events in as many years, each with success. “One of my caveats to the event is that they always have to raise money for a non-profit of their choice. So I put it to the class and asked them who they wanted to work with; they had several options, and chose Relay for Life. But it was Relay for Life that came to me, saying we saw the success this last year, we think it’d be awesome to do a kickball tournament. Would your students be willing to partner with us and do this together?”
Through the hands-on approach within the Robert W. Plaster School of Business curriculum, students gain experience completing a variety of tasks much like they would in an internship. The class was divided into three teams: game-day operations, sponsorships and promotions.
The operations team was charged with organizing the events of the day, including set-up, tournament structure, referees and rentals. The sponsorships team took on the bulk of the fundraising, seeking partnerships with local businesses and organizations. Students on the promotions team got busy setting up advertising channels on Instagram and Facebook accounts, flyers around campus and a website to allow team registration and payment online.
Students got a reality check when the event date finally arrived. “It was definitely go time. I think Monday it started to hit everyone,” admitted student Meaghan Rice. “We knew all of our hard work was going to come together this week and we just wanted to make sure it was our very best.”
Added classmate Mark Haire, “It wasn’t just done normally, it was done well, and for a good cause.”
Herrman led the class from conception through execution of the event, blending instruction as an educator and accountability as a boss. With experience as a marketer and publicist immediately preceding her role in the classroom, she’s no stranger to the challenges of working with students who are just getting started.
“When I was working as a professional, I’d say the people who I enjoyed supervising the most were the people just starting out,” Herrman reflects. “I really love to teach someone who might not know how to execute, yet has the desire and is open to knowing. It’s that sort of cusp of when you’re right at the beginning of something and you’re still learning it; you know that you need to know how to do something, but you don’t quite know how. That’s what I really like cultivating in students, the excitement for learning.”
The semester-long efforts all came together at 1 p.m. on the R. Marvin Owens Soccer Field on the Columbia College campus. Dozens of Columbia College students, staff, faculty and community members attended in addition to the 13 kickball teams.
Throughout the kickball tournament, attendees also enjoyed music and the option to play games of cornhole, Jenga, or Connect 4. In addition to sponsorships, team registration fees and in-kind donations gathered before the event, sales from the concessions contributed to the overall fundraising goal. Raffle winners were awarded prizes such as gift certificates from Sparky’s Ice Cream, Pancheros or even a gift basket of oral-care items from Mennemeyer Orthodontics.
The original goals for the event were to raise $2,500 and host 12 teams based on previous events. Efforts resulted in exceeding expectations.
When asked about attendance, and the group’s success in exceeding their original goals of $2,500 and 12 teams, Rice was pleased. “The turnout has been great. We had a bunch more spectators than we anticipated having. A lot of parents came out and just people from the community, wanting to check it out, so that was really nice. Everyone seems happy and excited. The weather was perfect. Earlier in the week we had snow, but we were hoping that would go away and warm up, and it did.”
To support hands-on learning like this, or other areas of the college’s greatest need, please give to the Columbia College Fund. To dedicate a space within the Plaster School of Business or elsewhere in New Hall, please contact the Office of Development at (573) 875-7563.