Student volunteers represent Elon at ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament

Coordinated by Associated Professor of Sport Management Shaina Dabbs, nearly 30 students assisted with game-day operations, on-court promotions and other tournament festivities during the five-day competition.

Nearly 30 Elon students made the half-hour trek to Greensboro multiple times in early March to volunteer at the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.

On the court, 15 teams faced off during the March 1-5 competition, which featured nail-biter endings and historic comebacks, and culminated with Virginia Tech cutting down the net for the first time in program history. Off the court, Elon students worked behind the scenes assisting with game-day operations to present 14 seamless basketball matchups, as well as a variety of pre- and post-game tournament activities.

McKenna Dalfonso ’24 poses for a selfie on the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Dalfonso

Shaina Dabbs, associate professor of sport management, helped facilitate the students’ involvement, building on a years-long relationship she’s developed with the ACC and its staff.

“This is a great experience for students to be a part of a real-life large event where they are not watching the event but actually taking part in the success of the event,” Dabbs said. “It takes all the content in the classroom and brings it to life on the court. It also allows students to build their resume and network with  other individuals at the tournament and work with the ACC.”

As part of their responsibilities, the students helped orchestrate on-court promotions, conducted media credential checks, assisted with locker room organization and pre-tournament set-up, and helped host the FanFest activities at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Sophomore Tess Hawthorne, a sport management and marketing double major, said she enjoyed her “awesome” experience, which included hyping up the crowds, throwing T-shirts and other free merchandise, and interacting with the fans. In addition to reveling in the tournament excitement, Hawthorne said her role helped her further develop her professional network.

Emilia Cappellett ’24 and Dalfonso were among nearly 30 Elon students who volunteered with game-day operations at the 2023 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. Photo courtesy of Cappellett

“Coming to Elon, I wanted to take advantage of these types of learning experiences. Getting the chance to work at an event so big and well-known in the sport industry at this moment in my life is incredible,” Hawthorne said. “Experiencing the energy and the fans’ passion was rewarding because I knew I helped create it and watching everything come to life was surreal.”

The Sport Management Department has partnered with the ACC for the past five years to provide students like Hawthorne with the opportunity to work in a professional, game-day environment. Dabbs deems the partnership an ideal setting for students to grow professionally and gain insight into the demands of the sport industry.

“Our students had a great experience working the event and seeing first-hand all the moving parts that go into making a sporting event happen,” Dabbs said. “I can’t thank the volunteers and tournament leads enough. We have been fortunate to build a great partnership with the ACC, where we have had students intern with the conference and have several alumni currently work there. I see the collaboration between our Sport Management Department and the ACC being strong for a long time.”

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the HealthEU series, exploring Elon programs, events and resources that promote integrated wellness of one or more dimensions. View the HealthEU website to learn more.