Students Volunteer with PGA ‘ PODS

Some sports management students will elect to wake up early each morning during spring break to volunteer in this year’s PODS Championship golf tournament instead of joining their peers and partying all week.

“This is a great opportunity for students to see a world class sporting event and be a part of it,” said Jay Jisha, associate professor of sports management.

The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) is the world’s largest working sports organization, comprised of 28,000 men and women golf professionals. The PGA requested the University of Tampa’s sport management students to volunteer in the upcoming tournament.

This year the PODS Championship golf tournament will take place March 3-9 at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club located in Palm Harbor.

The PGA Tour generates revenue for charitable causes and in 2006 the PODS Championship donated more $2.4 million to Tampa Bay charities such as Academy Prep, a private educational center for students who qualify for the federal lunch program. The PODS Championship requires dedicated, hard working volunteers to run the tournament.

Sport management student Jered Clifford and sports marketing student Kristen Cyrilla are both volunteering for this event and working the PGA scoreboard located at the 18th hole. The scoreboard is a digital leader board displayed onto a television, which inputs data for each golfer.

“I chose to volunteer because I really like golf and found it to be a great opportunity to start getting involved in a field that I want to make a career out of,” said Clifford.

Cyrilla volunteered last year and had a lot of fun, which is why she is volunteering again this year.

“I met a lot of great people last year who can help me further my career, and I hope to meet more people this year who can do the same,” said Cyrilla.

Legendary player Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia, last year’s PODS champion, are expected to play in this year’s tournament. Steve Stricker, currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is contemplating playing in the tournament, along with 48 other notable players.

UT students may have the opportunity to meet some of these famous golfers, but if not, they said they are thankful for the opportunity to be part of the tournament. Clifford said he hopes “to make a few friends while volunteering for this event, while also being around golf and having a good time.”

The sport management program believes that these experiences are beneficial to a student’s career in this field. Jisha encourages all his students to have at least 10 hours of volunteer service or some type of experience in the sports field.

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