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WVU student set for Super Bowl experience

Like Patrick Mahomes, West Virginia University sport management students are making going to the Super Bowl a bit of a habit.

Last year, Arielle Friedman made her way to Los Angeles to help execute fan events and hospitality for Super Bowl LVI, and this year, Rocco Agostino is headed to Phoenix to work the big game in a similar capacity.

Agostino, a senior from Long Island, N.Y., had long planned to study abroad in Italy during his time at WVU. His older sister had the benefit of that experience, and his parents had hoped the same for Rocco. However, an opportunity came up to apply to work the Super Bowl through Living Sport, a company that specializes in providing students and young professionals an opportunity to gain working experiences at some of the most exclusive sporting events in the world. At that point, Rocco had to decide whether to make a calculated decision on whether to pursue studying abroad or the application process to work the Super Bowl, even though there was no guarantee he’d be selected to go.

“It was kind of a long shot,” Agostino admits. “I wasn't really expecting to get accepted into it, but I just kind of took the chance. After talking to my family about it, we decided that it was just too good of an opportunity to not try for – we thought it would affect my future in a better way.”

The gamble paid off, and Agostino was one of 52 students accepted across the country to head off to Phoenix for 10 days for an experience that includes not just working the Super Bowl, but other professional networking opportunities.

“We’ll have the opportunity to meet with executives from other professional organizations in the Phoenix area, like the Suns and the Diamondbacks, and we’ll get tours of those stadiums,” he says. "For the Super Bowl, we’ll largely be helping with fan-centered events leading up to the game. Then on game day, I expect to be more in a customer service type of role that could be helping with hospitality, credentialing, media – just being available to help in whatever way we can.”

After being notified he would be going, he connected with Friedman over social media as an additional resource for his upcoming trip.

“She became instantly like the biggest help to me is we started messaging her about her experience,” he said. “She was telling me things to look out for and how the routines will go, the itinerary and what I should expect. Having that connection was great and reinforced that this was a great opportunity.”

Agostino knew he wanted to make a career working in sports, but it was his time as a student manager for the men’s soccer team that helped him realize that he needed more exposure to other experiences to help expand his career.

“For the longest time, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do in sports,” he says. “Then I worked with as manager here for the men’s soccer team and I got to meet different people and see their different roles, like facility management and operations. That showed me that the more I experiences I allow myself to take, the more expanded my options could be.”

The new experience will also expand Agostino’s network.

“The thing I'm excited for the most is probably the connections I'll make, the networking and the people I'll meet,” he said. “Professor (Patrick) Hairston reinforced how important it was to make connections and told me to do whatever I could to make the people I’ll meet remember me.”

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