Danielle McArdle, an undergraduate sport business management student, was selected as one of 30 participants worldwide to participate in the prestigious Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (FLAME) program. The United States Olympic Committee established FLAME as a national outreach program for minority youth in 1994. The program began to be targeted toward undergraduate and graduate students in 2006 to better align the program with personal and professional development and to prepare students for jobs in the world of sports. Danielle describes her learning experiences at FLAME in the paragraphs below.

At the Flame Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, I had amazing experiential learning opportunities. I got to work hands on with the United States Tennis Association, one of five national governing bodies with whom I networked, on a diversity challenge. The USTA presented my group with the task of helping them reach their goal of gaining one million new Hispanic tennis players within the next two years. Our plan was called “Serve It Up,” involving a promotional video, a comprehensive social media campaign and biannual events that capture families and millennials. The USTA liked our “Serve It Up” plan so much that they plan on implementing our plan in the future. In addition, I had the opportunity to hear from and network with Olympic athletes like Angela Hucles, two time gold medal winning soccer player, Theresa Edwards, five-time medal winning basketball player and two time medal winning bobsledders Elena and Nick Taylor. We even got the opportunity to watch and participate in some Olympic and Paralympic events like fencing, gymnastics, wheelchair basketball and goalball.

When we weren’t with the athletes, we had the chance to talk with and hear from industry powerhouses like Sheila Johnson, the President and Managing Partner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, Washington Capitals, and Washington Wizards, Wade Davis, the executive director of the You Can Play Too Project, Rosa Gatti, one of ESPN’s pioneering female executives, and Lindsay Kagawa Colas, the Vice President of Olympic and Action Sports of the Wasserman Media Group.

Apart from connecting with industry leadership, we had professional workshops and round robins with the executives of the United States Olympic Committee. I had an amazing time participating in this Olympic-like event where my training in the minor instead of in the gym translated into a successful performance on the networking field. It was through long study hours and relevant volunteer hours in which I was able to apply what I learned in an effort to represent UCF and the DeVos Sports Business Program in all of my undertakings. I am very thankful for my professors and mentors, Dr. Keith Harrison and Professor Scott Bukstein who not only expected the best from me, but also accepted nothing less than the best from me. For without them, I would not have been able to take part in such an amazing event.

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