Skip to Content

Extra Points

Who Had the Best NFL Draft? Falk College Sport Management Students
Six female Falk SPM students at axe throwing excursion

During their trip to Detroit for the NFL draft, the six Sport Management and Sport Analytics students enjoyed a fun axe-throwing excursion. From left to right, Maddy Forster, Grace Froehlke, Anna Pierce, Claire Patin, Ava Uribe, and Aryssa Hopps.

And with the first pick of volunteers for the 2024 NFL Draft, the Detroit Sports Commission selects . . .

Falk College sport management and sport analytics students!

For the NFL Draft in late April, the Detroit Sports Commission and Visit Detroit – the city’s visitors bureau – did indeed utilize the talents of six female students from Falk College’s Department of Sport Management: Aryssa Hopps ’25, Grace Froehlke ’26, and Alivia (Ava) Uribe ’26 from Sport Management, and Anna Pierce ’25, Madelyn (Maddy) Forster ’26, and Claire Patin ’26 from the department’s Sport Analytics program.

During their three days in Detroit, the students worked a variety of volunteer roles, visited with female executives from the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, and networked with Syracuse University alumni at a dinner hosted by David Katz, chair of the Visit Detroit Board of Directors and the parent of a Syracuse University student. The students were accompanied by Sport Management Internship Coordinators Beth Perez, who organized the trip, and Aaron Knighton.

Perez says the genesis of the trip was a conversation between Falk College Dean Jeremy Jordan and Katz, who believed students would benefit from volunteer opportunities at the draft. In discussions with the Sport Management team, Jordan suggested that this experiential learning opportunity be reserved for female students, and Perez thought that was “a fantastic idea.”

“There’s a push for female leadership and providing opportunities for females in the sport industry,” Perez says. “As we know, they’re still the minority within the industry, so we wanted to make it a point to bring the most students we could to get this experience.

“As soon as we mentioned the NFL draft and having the opportunity to go, they without hesitation said yes, even before they figured out their schedules,” Perez adds.

To better understand the impact of this trip, we asked two of the students – sport management’s Hopps and sport analytics’ Patin, to share with us the highlights of their experience in Detroit. Here’s what they wrote:

Female SPM student with volunteers at NFL draft

Sport Management major Aryssa Hopps (second from left, standing) with her fellow volunteers in Teammate Headquarters at the NFL Draft.

Aryssa Hopps

“My time working in Teammate Headquarters at the NFL Draft was truly an unforgettable experience. I was the first interaction all volunteers had before starting their shifts with the draft, meaning I was able to have an impact on every individual. Whether it be offering a warm greeting, asking them if they were excited about the draft, or just chatting about our favorite teams, I felt as though every person that I met truly impacted my experience in Detroit.

“Most volunteers lived in Detroit or other areas of Michigan, and others were from surrounding states. It was inspirational to hear the stories and different backgrounds from everyone I worked with. Every person had a different reason for why they wanted to volunteer and give back to the city of Detroit.

“While I was inside during my shifts at the NFL Draft Experience and not outside with all the activities like the other women on our trip, I wouldn’t have wanted my experience to be any other way. I was able to form friendships with the small crew that I worked with who made a lasting impact on my impression of Detroit. Over the course of two days, our crew became so close we all signed up to volunteer to work the 2025 NFL Draft in Green Bay, where we hope to meet up again someday.”

Female SPM student with Detroit Lions center standing together

Claire Patin with Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow at the autograph signing tent at the NFL Draft.

Claire Patin

“While in Detroit for the 2024 NFL Draft, me and my peers had the opportunity to experience so much in such little time. The night before the draft, David Katz hosted us as well as other Syracuse alumni in his home for a dinner and networking event. There were people from all different classes and majors from Syracuse, most of them working in the sport industry in some type of way. It was amazing to talk to everyone and build connections with them. There were so many successful people in the industry I want to go into in one room, and it was a great opportunity to have conversations with all of them.

“The first day of the draft, I worked at the autograph signing tent helping with the lines, directing people, and taking pictures of fans with players. One of the players signing autographs was Frank Ragnow, a center for the Detroit Lions, who was a fan favorite. It was fun to see fans so excited to meet him and be right there to take their picture with him.

“I love the culture that sports creates, and I got to see this with hundreds of people who wanted an autograph from their favorite player. All of the fans were so nice, and just so excited to be at the draft. I feel really lucky that I not only got to experience it myself, but also be a part of the positive experience for the fans. Overall, it was an unbelievable experience to be working the NFL draft.”

As with an NFL team after the draft, Perez and Knighton went back to work soon after returning to Syracuse to start looking at opportunities for next year and beyond for female students and all students from Sport Management. For example, after the positive experience the students had in Detroit, they’ve already started talking about how they can get students to the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in Detroit in 2027.

“We have a good push for elevating our female students and trying to provide them experiential learning and leadership opportunities and now we can be strategic and build partnerships to make that happen,” Perez says. “We definitely have the mindset of, how can we provide more of these experiences for all of our students?”

Visit the Falk College website to learn more about the Department of Sport Management and its academic programs, experiential learning, and career opportunities.