"I have had so many good takeaways from my experience at UMass," writes Katie Yates, MBA/MS Sport Management '22, now a Hockey Analyst with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. "I think the one lesson that probably stands out the most to me is something that Coach [Greg] Carvel says all the time to the team, and when he does media, which is 'You get what you deserve.'"
From her experiences – both in the classroom and on the ice – at UMass, Yates realizes this saying covers two sides of the same coin. "If you work hard, do things the right way, and treat people with respect, eventually it will pay off. If you put the work in, then the results will come."
For Yates, who is no stranger to the demands of a rigorous graduate school program (she also holds a masters degree in mechanical engineering from Boston University), dividing her time between master’s classes, homework, and hockey operations (in both collegiate, and professional, settings) was the work she was putting in, waiting for the results she hoped to deserve.
"I came to UMass because of the breadth of opportunity it provided in the world of sports business," Yates says, looking back. "UMass's program appealed to me because I felt it would give me the best combination of being able to build a base of knowledge to succeed in any number of different sports business areas, while also providing the opportunity to work with a championship-caliber team along the way to strengthen my skill set."
Don't tell ‘Past Yates’ this, but that "championship-caliber team" she was set to assist over her two years on campus would win the Hockey East Tournament title both seasons, and stood on top of the NCAA men's hockey landscape in 2021 as National Champions. Talk about experiential learning!
"Instead of thinking about things like marketing, finance, or HR in the abstract, conceptual sense," Yates mused, "I was able to think about it in terms of how those concepts related to, or would be applied within, the teams I worked with." Speaking of teams she impacted, besides the aforementioned 2021 National Champion Minutemen, from the moment Yates walked onto campus she immediately connected with her assigned Grad Mentor, Jeremy Rogalski of the Boston Bruins who hired her as a summer research fellow in partnership with Women in Sports Tech. This four-month project was extended into the beginning of the 2021-2022 professional season, providing invaluable mentorship, hands-on learning, and perspective.
Thanks to her connection with Rogalski, Yates was able to work with the Bruins’ analytics department and see where their work fit into the larger operation of the team, and what types of projects are typically needed throughout different points of the season (draft season, trade deadline, in-season, etc.). Yates even had the opportunity to fulfill a career research interest when her work with the Bruins connected her with the team's Sports Performance department to, "learn how they incorporate data into their processes."
To Yates, mentorship didn't stop with Rogalski, but continued with various McCormack faculty members, most notably Dr. David Tyler. "He puts so much effort into understanding each of [my classmates'] individual interests, goals, and skill sets," Yates raves. "[He makes] sure that each of us is able to get a meaningful and actionable experience out of his classes, despite us all coming into them from different places."
This individualized attention is just one of many parts that led Yates to attend UMass; she also credits the importance of community and teamwork. "My time at UMass helped me learn about how to build up your support network organically," Yates acquiesces. Over her two years in the program, Yates realized "how important it is to find the people who are going to be your advocates and cheerleaders - not just for your career, but also for your personal growth."
For anyone considering joining the McCormack Department of Sport Management for graduate school, as well as new, incoming students, Yates urges one to remember Coach Carvel's words about putting in the work in order to receive favorable results. Most importantly, Yates encourages aspiring sport business leaders to cultivate their own individual approach to the program.
"I'm in awe of all the cool things the people in my cohort do 'on the side' – from coaching teams at UMass and Amherst College, to working in the Athletic Department, to interning for consulting agencies and sport-specific companies across multiple sectors of the industry," Yates lists off. Truly, the experiential learning opportunities are too numerous to list in their entirety.
"The program gives you the opportunity to find 'your thing' and integrate that into your experience," Yates finishes. "I would definitely try to take advantage of that."