Thanks to an internship with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) last summer, Xiaohan Wen ’16, a sport management major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is well positioned for the next step in her career. In June 2015, Wen worked with the USOC in Colorado Springs, Colorado, an opportunity she learned about through the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the Isenberg School of Management.
Wen was one of 30 interns selected from a pool of 200 applicants to attend the United States Olympic Committee’s FLAME (Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere) program for professional development. She says, “This was one of my best experiences ever. This was a big moment.”
During her internship, she worked with Olympic athletes preparing for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016, shadowed USOC leaders, and learned about careers with the USOC. Wen’s passion for sports reaches back to the 2008 Summer Olympics in her home city of Beijing. Experiencing the roaring crowds and elite competition led her to attend UMass Amherst, a leader in sport management studies.
In Colorado Springs, Wen had wide-ranging experiences. She led a group presentation on solutions for diversity issues in USA Volleyball, attended a Colorado Rapids soccer game, engaged in a question and answer session with USOC executives, and met Colorado State University athletic director and Super Bowl champion Albert Bimper Jr. Leslie Gamez, the managing director of international games for the USOC, introduced Wen to officials at the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Founded in 1972, the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management is one of the first programs of its kind. Other universities ranked the program number one in the world in a recent “Sports Business International” survey. Department Chair Janet Fink says, “Most programs have two or three dedicated faculty members, maybe four. To have 11 full-time people in our program who are dedicated to teaching, who are winning teaching awards, and who are also researchers with open-door policies, that can really connect with students.”
Opportunities like Wen’s are contingent upon success in the classroom, according to Professor of Sport Management Mark McDonald. “When I teach sport event management to seniors, I depend on them to understand sport law, sport finance, sport economics, and human resource management,” says McDonald. Wen works in his class to organize Supercuts SoccerFest, a recreational youth tournament in Amherst in April. SoccerFest is the largest co-ed tournament in western Massachusetts. Wen and other students arranged corporate sponsors and helped recruit teams.