RSO unites business and sports


Photo Courtesy of Nathan Cualoping

Student work together as a part of Illinois Sports Business. ISB is an RSO which helps students network by connecting their passion for sports with their passion for business.

By Megan Bradley, Staff writer

Students at the University who are passionate about sports and want to work in the sports field someday have an RSO that can help to connect those interests.

Illinois Sports Business Association (SBA) is open to students of any major who wish to pursue a career in sports business. The RSO hosts member meetings, guest speakers and networking events, which take place off-campus.

“I think people see the title ‘Sports Business Association’ and they assume it’s a club about sports and stuff, but it’s really a lot more than that,” said Nathan Cualoping, senior in Business and SBA’s president. “It’s not so much about recreation sports; it’s watching sports, being a fan of sports, learning about the sports industry, seeing how it applies to the business world and just kind of practicing professional concepts in order to prepare ourselves for a career in sports after.”

All that is required to join is coming to meetings once a week and paying membership dues.

SBA’s members benefit from workshops such as resume critiques and mock interviews as well as off-campus networking events where the RSO travels to various sports teams or agencies around Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis.

“Our president last year, Tristan Nelson, got me my connection for my interview with Paragon Marketing, a sports marketing group that works with Gatorade. Our organization is all about making connections since it is not about what you know, it’s who you know,” Abby Kalsto, sophomore in Media and SBA’s vice president of communications, said.

Kalsto said without the networking opportunities that SBA gives members, she would not have had the chance to work for the Chicago Bears and Blackhawks as a freshman.

As president, Cualoping said various sports teams and agencies have reached out to him about available jobs and internships they have, which members then have the opportunity to apply for. Cualoping said this is one of the best parts about being president.

“I’m able to give back to some of the younger members because when I was a freshman or sophomore, I looked up to the juniors and seniors a lot so just kind of being able to give back to them and using what I’ve learned and what I wished I’d known back when I was younger,” Cualoping said.

Candice Brown, senior in AHS, has been in SBA for four years and wrote in an email that although the sports business industry is small and competitive, those already in it are more than willing to help interested students get involved.

The main aspect of SBA is networking, which tends to be something a lot of students struggle with during the beginning of the job search process.

“I know it’s probably hard for a lot of people to just approach someone and ask for a few minutes of their time. Now, it is a lot easier to talk to someone about a certain topic and ask for their feedback. It may not always be the answer I am hoping for, but any feedback is better than nothing,” Brown wrote. “Without the trips or networking events, I wouldn’t have witnessed firsthand how open and honest people are if you simply approach them.”

Possible jobs in the sports business industry include marketing, human resources, finance, accounting, advertising and sales.

Due to SBA’s size of about 120 students, the exec board has tried to make it as cohesive an organization as possible in order to encourage member growth.

“Our goal, especially with communications, is to establish unique relationships with each one of our members that will help each one of them with an internship or job placement within the industry,” Kalsto said.

SBA’s off-campus trips provide members with a chance to interact with other members who they otherwise would not have had a chance to connect with in regular meetings, network with professionals and see cool places such as Wrigley Field, the United Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

SBA takes three off-campus trips each semester. This semester they are planning to visit the Chicago White Sox and have already visited Indianapolis.  

“My favorite SBA memory was the trip to Chicago for the Cubs’ networking event. I met Ben Higgins from the Bachelor. Not completely sports related, but without that event, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Brown wrote.

SBA trips, workshops and guest speakers are all meant to give students the opportunity to form connections with professionals in the field. Cualoping said that one of the aspects of SBA that he has most benefited from over the past four years has been maintaining connections with people in the industry who he met since his freshman year.

Members’ professional growth is the main focus of SBA, which aims to help all members form connections and skills that will help them find internships and jobs.

“It’s more than just being a sports fan; I think we’re all sports fans — we’re all passionate about sports, but the cool thing about SBA is that we teach skills and values that will help them hopefully get the interview, (and) hopefully get the job in the sports business industry,” Cualoping said. “It’s a really competitive industry — it’s a rising industry and there’s a lot of people who want to do it but not a lot of jobs available.”

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