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Comm Studies Class Hits Home Run Planning WooSox Opening Day

Ava Blazis walking on the field wearing a Worcester WooSox jersey holding her parent's hand
The Worcester WooSox Opening Day theme was community, and that included honoring Ava Blazis, a courageous 5-year-old contending with cancer.

Students in Charles Steinberg’s Event Planning class hit their assignment out of the park by successfully planning and executing opening day festivities for the Worcester Red Sox (WooSox), the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, on April 2. 

“We spent a lot of time discussing different ways to attract the WooSox fans, not just to the baseball game, but the entire day surrounding Polar Park, as if it were one big celebration of the start to the baseball season,” said Colin Ames, MA ’25. “One of the biggest highlights of our planning process included bringing [Boston Bruins singer] Todd Angilly to the stadium to sing the national anthem.”

“We have been discussing and planning opening day since the beginning of the semester,” said Michael Letendre, MA ’25. “Getting to see it all unfold live was actually very fascinating and an experience I won’t forget.”

Charles Steinberg and members of two high school basketball teams stand together on the baseball field
Communication Studies affiliated faculty member Charles Steinberg, middle wearing hat, stands with high school basketball teams honored at the Worcester WooSox Opening Day.

An affiliated Communication Studies faculty member, Steinberg is also the  president of the WooSox, and a former executive vice president of the Red Sox. And since 2016, Steinberg has incorporated planning opening day as part of his Emerson classes.

“One of the things I love about teaching is how much I learn from the students,” said Steinberg. “So when you let the students help plan the event, all you are doing is recognizing that the students are the audience and therefore they bring in ideas from a fan’s perspective.” 

This year’s opening day theme, decided by Steinberg and the students, focused on fostering community involvement within Worcester. Special guests featured in the pre-game festivities included Ava Blazis, a courageous 5-year-old battling cancer, the state champion North High School basketball team, and the state finalist South High School women’s basketball team.

One of Steinberg’s central tenets about sports event planning is what he calls “the path of the fan experience”. 

“I think one of the most important things one brings to event planning is to look through the eyes of the attendees of the event, and most importantly go through in your mind the path of the fan experience,” explained Steinberg. “The Emerson students are well-attuned to what the college students would like to see, and they bring fresh ideas and fresh perspectives.” 

Michael Letendre, Aidan Rice and Chris Ferara pose with a Worcester WooSox baseball statue
Left to right: Michael Letendre, MA ’25; Aidan Rice, MA ’25; and Chris Ferara ’23, MA, ’25 at the Worcester WooSox facility.

Sean Coman, MA ‘25, an assistant head coach for Emerson’s men’s basketball team, plans on integrating strategies learned in the course into his coaching.

“When organizing a recruiting visit, small details make a big difference, such as how the recruits experience traveling to Emerson, what they first notice when they visit the campus, and how their experience is during a game,” said Coman.

For others, the experience opened their eyes to potential career paths in event planning. 

“If you were to ask me prior to this class if I wanted to do event planning, I would have declined, as I knew the bare minimum, ” said Letendre. “But this course gave me a lot of insight on how complex the event planning industry is. There are lots of moving parts to each event and one important lesson we learned was to expect things to go differently than you initially planned for them to and having a backup plan is vital to success.” 

Steinberg said he plans to integrate the event planning course into future Emerson sporting events as well.

“I would like to make planning and attending Emerson basketball, baseball, and soccer games a regular part of our event planning course,” said Steinberg. “What I hope to bring to students are real-life examples that vividly depict past occurrences, potential scenarios, and effective strategies for anticipation.”

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