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Sport Management Students Achieve “Wildest Dreams” in Meeting Taylor Swift and Jason Kelce

Raimondo Partito

In the bustling world of sport management, where dedication and passion converge, four standout students from Mount St. Mary's University recently found themselves at the epicenter of unforgettable experiences. Students Patrick Rankin, Andrea Cabrera-Vargas, Lyla Kline and Kaitlin Farrell had the rare opportunity to meet global pop sensation Taylor Swift while volunteering with the SAFE Management Company at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore during the AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.

mounties-with-taylor-swift-in-text.jpg“I am very proud of the work the students do, and it was their reputation that got the attention of the event manager,” said Associate Professor of Sport Management Sarah Zipp, Ph.D., who manages the university’s gameday experience partnership with SAFE Management Company. “Because of the good work our Mount students have performed all season, these students were singled out to help escort the Chiefs families to the field from their box suite. Their efforts paid off and they got to see Taylor Swift and Jason Kelce!”

Patrick Rankin, the 21-year-old rising senior and president of the Mount’s Sport Management Club, spearheaded this incredible journey. With a rich history of volunteering at various games and events, including two internships at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio and three Ravens games this season, Rankin's leadership and dedication set the stage for the encounter with Taylor Swift. "Volunteering has opened doors for me, but meeting Taylor Swift was beyond my wildest dreams,” Rankin said. “It's a testament to the incredible opportunities that arise when you are actively involved in the sports management community."

Rankin elaborated: “I interned with the Valero Alamo Bowl, and I drove Steve Sarkisian who's the University of Texas football coach. I also had the opportunity to speak with Kalen Deboer, who's now the Alabama football coach but when I met him at the time in 2022, he was the Washington football coach. I shook Jed Fishe's hand as well. I have met famous people before, but to have this interaction with a global superstar who's going to be in Japan in two weeks, especially for four students who go to a small Catholic liberal arts school it's amazing to have an opportunity like this to meet Taylor Swift.”

Cabrera-Vargas, a senior, has also volunteered at past Ravens games through the Sport Management Club, showcasing her commitment to sport management, and particularly sport marketing, beyond the classroom. Kline and Farrell, also seniors who are huge fans of Swift, share the spotlight with one of their favorite musical artists in a photo snapped by Cabrera-Vargas, capturing the momentous meeting. While they are not in the sport management program, Kline volunteered with the expectation that she would be present to see the Ravens win and Farrell held out a glimmer of hope that she would spot Taylor Swift at a distance.

In addition to the AFC Championship game and Ravens games throughout the season, Mount St. Mary's students have been actively involved in various events over the past 18 months. Approximately 40 students volunteered during the season, with 18 signing up for the championship game. Mount students have volunteered at the 2022 Notre Dame vs. Navy football game, held at M&T, the Preakness Stakes and the Alamo Bowl as well as had internships at the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Commanders. These experiences have allowed students to gain hands-on experience and make meaningful connections in the industry.

Mount graduates have worked for the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Nationals, Washington Capitals, Washington Kastles, Philadelphia Union and other professional sports organizations as trainers, communicators, marketers and various management functions.

j-kelce-with-students.jpgDaryl (DJ) Johnson, a junior sport management major, also had his moment in the spotlight as he met NFL star Jason Kelce, a dream come true for this avid fan of Kelce's New Heights podcast. "I've always admired Jason Kelce, and meeting him was surreal,” Johnson said. “It's incredible how our involvement in sports management opens doors to encounters with our idols and role models."

The sport management program creates avenues for students to explore the sports industry through volunteering, internships and job opportunities. Digital signs on campus now highlight opportunities such as volunteering at the MAAC basketball tournament in Atlantic City, complete with free housing. The program's LinkedIn page and the Sport Management Club's Instagram page serve as valuable resources for students seeking further engagement and information on opportunities within the sports industry.

The Mount students were struck by the graciousness and kindness of Swift and Kelce. The Mounties followed their supervisor's instructions to avoid taking photos of the VIPs they were escorting to the field, Taylor and Kelce noticed the students and invited them to pose for photos, leading to a major highlight of their college years.

Raimondo Partito