Niagara University students, alumni score big on 'Super Sunday'by jmaloni
The Baltimore Ravens weren't the only winners on Super Bowl Sunday.
Niagara University also performed well on the world's biggest sporting stage, with current students and recent graduates involved in three different projects associated with Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Eleven students enrolled in NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management were selected for the five-day trip to The Big Easy, where they greeted visitors, worked on Super Bowl Boulevard and took a few shifts at the NFL Experience, the league's interactive theme park, among the several other activities requested by organizers.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the hospitality, tourism and sport management majors offered hospitality services during the sold-out NFL On Location pregame party, before attending the game and coordinating the postgame hoopla on the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"Being able to work with NFL On Location at Super Bowl XLVII was a true once-in-a-lifetime experience," exclaimed senior Dan Pearson. "There were also so many events that not only went on at the Superdome, but throughout the city of New Orleans. Having the opportunity to work at pregame and postgame parties and ensure every fan had a memorable experience wherever I could time was very humbling. I know this trip will only help me in my future sports career."
On the Monday morning following the game, the students woke up early to volunteer in a soup kitchen at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Baton Rouge.
"While volunteering at the Super Bowl was an experience in itself, being able to give back to the people of the Baton Rouge community was also a rewarding experience," stated senior Alexis Wayne. "Considering Niagara is a Vincentian university, it only felt fitting that we had the opportunity to volunteer for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Louisiana. It felt good being able to relate the values we've learned at Niagara to a completely different community."
This is the fifth time in seven years that Niagara University students have participated in the NFL's showcase event. And this time, the group was assisted by a pair of Niagara University alumni: Cameron Kovach, '11, a volunteer coordinator with the New Orleans host committee who attended Super Bowl XLV as an NU student; and Ashley Blossom, '11, who worked in the NFL Accreditation Center.
Similar service-learning experiences are offered regularly by the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. This spring, for example, several sport management students will volunteer during Major League Baseball's spring training.
After graduating last May with a degree in communication studies, Derek Zeller hooked up with www.proplayerinsiders.com, a professional football website that's affiliated with the NFL Players Association. Zeller photographed seven Buffalo Bills games from the sidelines this year (including preseason) and then, in January, got the call to capture images of the numerous events in New Orleans leading up to the Super Bowl - as well as The Big Game.
"It has been such a surreal experience - a dream come true," said Zeller a few hours after snapping more than 3,000 pictures during Baltimore's 34-31 win over San Francisco. "Between the events to Radio Row to the game itself, you're used to seeing all these people on TV and now you're standing right next to them, shaking hands with guys like Jerry Rice and Andre Reed."
Meanwhile, Carmen Ruby Floyd, a 2000 Niagara University alumna, is used to rubbing elbows with A-list celebrities. The successful Broadway actress has performed for Ruby Dee, August Wilson and Bette Milder, and her work has given her the opportunity to meet former President Bill Clinton, Diana Ross Tom Hanks and Sarah Jessica Parker.
On Sunday, Floyd was featured prominently in Tide's "Miracle Stain" advertisement, a 60-second spot that was rated among the evening's top commercials by The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and several others. Floyd played the role of the Baltimore Ravens fan who "mistakenly" washed her husband's 49ers jersey after it had incurred a stain in the shape of former San Francisco great Joe Montana.
It was Tide's first Super Bowl commercial since 2008.
Coincidentally, Floyd discovered that she would be working with the same director who coordinated a Sprint commercial she appeared in four years ago.
"It was quite wonderful and all we did was laugh on set," Floyd told WIVB Channel 4. "It was one of the easiest, best jobs. It's a wonderful blessing, it's really, really great and I'm so fortunate to do this."
In 2000, Floyd, then a student, appeared in a commercial for Niagara University.
For more information on Niagara University, visit http://www.niagara.edu or call 716-286-8700.