Working Across Los Angeles
Orange County sport management student (and recipient of the Black Unified Sports Family (BUSF) Scholarship) Mia Tolliver MS ’24 worked in game presentation for the LA Clippers during the 2022-23 season, while also completing internships with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Ontario Clippers. Here, she talks about those experiences.
What was your role with the LA Clippers this season?
I was a game night staff member, with duties including stage management for entertainment and in-game production. The main lesson I learned while working for the LA Clippers is to stay flexible. Working in a fast-paced changing environment, I had to learn to be adaptable when specific game segments were altered, locations changed, or activations were cut completely. Depending on the pace and circumstances of the game, game presentation and entertainment plays a big part in producing fan engagement.
What were some of the highlights of working with the Clippers?
I have so many highlights from this season with the Clippers. On HBCU Night, I was able to work with celebrity guest host Terrence J to recognize college students and alumni from different fraternities and sororities within the black community. I had the opportunity to work with celebrity performers such as Fatman Scoop, the Ying Yang Twins, and Rico Nasty during halftime performances. I think the biggest highlight was being in a space to learn so much about sport entertainment from my department and through hands-on experience.
How did you balance your Clippers work with your other roles?
Working with several teams was a strategic balancing act. I planned ahead before each team’s season. I reviewed each home game schedule before committing to a job to ensure I could put my full effort into the role and check for overlap on game days. There were days I went from a gig with the Los Angeles Dodgers to a rehearsal for the LA Clippers. Time management was a skill I had to learn while being a full-time grad student, working, and prioritizing my wellbeing. Success comes from preparation, which is what enabled me to take on several opportunities at once.
What role has the Sport Management program played in your career so far?
I give all my credit to the program for preparing me for these roles. First class, out the gate, I had to network and connect with people in my field. I was out of my comfort zone, but I do not think I would have the relationships and experiences I do without Professor Rich Cellini’s first class. I was able to network with professionals in positions that interested me, which led to the opportunities I have today. Same goes for my cohort mates. We lean on each other and reach out when we find something that is beneficial for one another. The first network I had was my cohort and they are the biggest support through my career development. The program as a whole gives me confidence to succeed in each role I’m in, and my work reflects that.
What impact has the BUSF scholarship had on your ability to study and work in the industry?
The BUSF scholarship made me realize how much more room for diversity there is in sports. Starting out, it was hard to find community and feel comfortable in spaces where I was either the only woman or the only black individual. I’ve learned now that I do not want to be comfortable. I want to constantly make an effort to do more for my black peers. With every opportunity I get, I see myself as a representation of a whole group. My step in the door provides another in for someone down the line. With my different job experiences and involvement in the USF Sport Management program, I want to take up as much space as possible so that others may also in the future. I hope that this scholarship shows black professionals like me that there is room to make a difference in our industry.
How has mentorship played a role in the progress of your studies and work?
Mentorship has played a significant part in my career development. My program alumni mentor, Eddie Maisonet MA ‘16, challenges me to connect with people that I would’ve been afraid to reach out to, and keeps me accountable along the way. Eddie does not shy away from giving me honest and supportive feedback about my classwork, and letting me know what more I can do beyond being a student. Through mentorship, I learned how to advocate for myself in my work and gain confidence in my studies.