October 23, 2020

Waverly native Ben Vannatta attended two other universities in the first part of his college career before choosing Shawnee State for its Sports Management program and “hometown feel.”

male student holding a basketball

“SSU has the hometown feel,” Sports Management Major Ben Vannatta said. “I had lifelong friends who already attended Shawnee, and this persuaded me to transfer.”

The Waverly, Ohio native began his college career at two other universities, but he ultimately chose to transfer to Shawnee State University to pursue his degree.

Through SSU’s Sports Management major, Vannatta plans to broaden his studies to build a strong start in sports.

“I’ve loved sports my entire life,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be involved with it in a professional capacity.” 

Shawnee’s Sports Management program is offered in the Department of Business Administration, part of the College of Professional Studies. Vannatta has had many great opportunities for professional experience in the program. With a project in his facility management course, he was able to build a mockup of the SSU gym renovation. Students were given the chance to decide changes that would improve the facility, gymnasium and accessibility while staying within a budget.

With his minor in communications, Vannatta has also been very effective at networking with others already in the profession.

“Communication skills are almost a requirement for sports management,” he said. “Networking with individuals, which in turn leads them to introduce you to their extended network.”

Networking helped Vannatta acquire an internship working with the Chillicothe Paints baseball team during the summer of 2020. However, this was canceled due to complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For anyone considering this major, Vannatta suggests considering the unique experiences of attending sports events, interacting with athletes, and informing the community and public about sports-related news.

“There are many misconceptions about sports management,” Vannatta said. “Not very many people understand that this major exists. A lot of people think there aren’t many job opportunities in the field, but the degree is very flexible.”

A few examples of professional positions in the field include being a sports director at a local YMCA or fitness center, serving as a high school athletic director, or working as a sports broadcaster/journalist.

Vannatta is looking forward to using his skills to help youth get the most out of their athletic experiences.

“Through athletic directing or upper-level management of sports, I will be in the position of helping kids, teenagers, and young adults develop as students, athletes, and individuals.”