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Grad Studentsí Project Takes Flight With Aeros On Board

Feb. 18, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Sara Thompson

Photos by: Morris Molina / Houston Aeros


The stands surrounding the iced arena at Houston’s Toyota Center will reflect an orange hue as Sam Houston State University alumni, students, faculty and staff fill the building for the first ever “SHSU Night with the Houston Aeros” on March 25.

The promotion offers discounted tickets and special events for members of the Bearkat community. There will also be a number of giveaways at the game for SHSU attendees.

Not only will the night make SHSU history, but it will also serve as a proud moment for a handful of graduate students who are dedicating their spring semester to coordinate the entire event.

From collaborative board meetings with the Aeros to an exclusive backstage survey of the entire Toyota Center, the students in SHSU’s graduate sport management program have solely determined every detail of the event from beginning to end.

For them, planning began on the first day of the spring semester. While many university students were receiving syllabi and assigned seats, students in assistant professors Brent Estes and Ryan Zapalac’s classes were already getting to work. Within the first few weeks of school, the students were widespread from Huntsville to Houston, booking venues and meeting with local businesses.

According to Zapalac, the graduate sport management program offered at SHSU gives students the chance to put their best foot forward towards in the professional world through a course that provides significant hands-on experience.

“Being near the fourth largest city in the nation gives our students the rare opportunity to train and network with some of the biggest names in the sports industry,” said Zapalac.

At the beginning of each semester, students in Zapalac’s class are assigned a practical project for which they design, sell, and implement a campus-wide event promoting SHSU.

This spring, however, the graduate students took the assignment a step farther by dedicating time outside of class and outside of Huntsville city limits. By turning to the Houston Aeros, they took it upon themselves to ensure that it would be an event to remember.

“It’s a proud moment for me to hear them come back each week with new ideas to improve the night, make it more spectacular," said Zapalac. “These students are learning on the fly basically, and are truly putting their best efforts into this.”

SHSU graduate student Justin Humphrey works as a liaison for the event between the Houston Aeros and the university. After receiving a full-time internship with the hockey team in January, Humphrey said he is happy to have this opportunity to help out SHSU.

“This is such a great opportunity to get the SHSU community more visible in the Houston area, and I really enjoy every bit of getting to do this while working for the Aeros,” said Humphrey.

Game time for “SHSU Night with the Houston Aeros” is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. at the Toyota Center.

Even before SHSU President Dana Gibson drops the puck to start the game, the event will offer a wide range of pregame activities including a VIP meet-and-greet, “Sam Jam” festival and a student broom ball game at 6 p.m.

Sammy Bearkat and the SHSU Spirit Squad will also attend the game.

Attendees will be encouraged to wear SHSU apparel and will also be able to display organizational flags and banners from their respective organizations.

“Just seeing the SHSU community come out and enjoy themselves would mean a lot to everyone who has helped put this together,” said Humphrey. “I know that being able to see our alma mater out there in big numbers is going to be a really special moment.”

Ticket prices are $10 for end zone seating and $30 for center ice seating, exclusively for SHSU affiliates. Additionally, each ticket purchased for the event also includes a free ticket to another Houston Aeros game. Discount parking passes are also available for $7.

Tickets may be purchased online at both Ticketcentral.com and http://sportmanagement.shsu.edu with the promotional codes “SHSU,” “KATS,” “SAM” or “HOUSTON” (all provide the same discount) or by phone at 713.361.7947.


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