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Florida IMG Academy Story - 2015

Review by Sean McNeely

Jennifer Knobbs is no stranger to intense workouts, but even she was surprised. The Sport Management student and former Olympian in synchronized swimming was huffing and puffing from a workout led by a physical conditioning coach from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

“We were running around pushing things that weighed more than I did,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer was one of 30 students who traveled to the Sunshine State. “He killed us, but it was a lot of fun.”

The workout was part of a week-long experience at the IMG Academy ‒ a special school for athletically-minded students who on top of their academic studies, train for sports at an elite level.

Attracting students from all over the world, the IMG Academy is also a popular training centre for high-profile athletes such as NFL quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and others wanting to improve their fitness and strength.

IMG Academy football field

“It’s a fantastic world-renowned institution,” said Ashwin Patel, a professor in Humber’s Sport Management program who organized the trip along with fellow instructor Noah Gentner.  

The trip’s purpose was simple: the two instructors wanted their students to “really look at what it takes to be successful in the sport management industry.”

When not on the practice field, students were attending talks by IMG Academy staff. They learned first-hand about different fields within sport management like sponsorship, sales, marketing, programming and coaching.

“You could see how passionate they are about their jobs…Their stories are really important for those of us just starting out.”

Students also toured nearby sports facilities such as Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and caught an NHL playoff game as well as a minor league baseball game.

For Ashwin, the trip brought his classroom lessons to life. “A lot of the things the IMG staff talked about aligned with the courses we offer."

He also witnessed what he called “lightbulb moments,” with students suddenly seeing the field in sport management they want to pursue with great clarity.

“My passion lies in amateur sports,” said Jennifer who one day hopes to serve on an Olympic committee.

“For me it’s all about inspiring the next generation of athletes…Humber put together an incredible trip that I’ll never forget.”