Sports Management Grad Ready to Cheer on NBA’s Warriors
Cody Smoot won’t have much time to bemoan the season-ending loss for his beloved Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G-League Western Conference Finals. That’s because he’ll be busy cheering on the team’s parent club, the Golden State Warriors as they pursue their third consecutive NBA title.
Smoot, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management in 2017, is an Account Executive for the G-League squad – known affectionately by fans as the “SeaDubs” – and his job involves helping promote different ticket packages and special event nights.
“Anything from a 10-person birthday party to a 500-person corporate event, I’ve helped put those things together,” said Smoot, who was the top rookie seller for the G-League and helped the Sea-Dubs rack up six awards at the NBA G-League Sales and Marketing meetings in Las Vegas in early May. “We did a set of Friday nights for the LGBTQ community. I did a Jewish Heritage Night. I just like building these big events for these different communities.”
Smoot started with the Santa Cruz squad last summer, but already had some solid experience working for the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, as a Group Ticket Sales Executive, and as a Marketing Intern for the Creighton University Athletic Department. Smoot said he has enjoyed getting a taste of the sports world from a variety of perspectives.
“The internship was my first step into the sports world. It was a great experience and really helped boost me toward my job with the Storm Chasers and now with the SeaDubs,” he said.
Smoot is a graduate of Roncalli Catholic High School in Omaha and earned an Associate’s degree in Radio Broadcasting at Iowa Western Community College. He worked in the local radio market before deciding to transfer those college credits to Bellevue University at the urging of a classmate. Smoot enjoyed the personal attention he received at both Roncalli and Iowa Western and looked forward to the same while at Bellevue University.
“The credit transfer process was easy. Bellevue accepted all of my past credits from Iowa Western,” Smoot said. “I’ve always loved small classrooms and the relationship you can build with the professor.”
He certainly found that with Sports Marketing Professors Dr. Brenda Mechels and Bob Danenhauer, an adjunct professor.
“I will never forget them. They’re both super down-to-earth people that pushed you just enough. Bob just brings so many experiences with him,” he said, commenting on the real life expertise that Danenhauer gained as an athletic director at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. “Brenda really brings the whole program together. She really cares for her students and is just a great human being.”
Mechels said Smoot went above and beyond and has had a permanent impact on the program.
“Cody was a great student, but what set him apart was his willingness to network and forge his own path. One of the first requirements of the Sport Management program was to interview someone within the industry, who you don’t know, that you would like to have a similar career to. Instead of interviewing one person (as was required), he interviewed three. And all three were big name people that most students would be intimidated by,” Mechels said. “He was a full time student, excelled in his assignments, and helped start our current Sport Management Club. The Club remains an important part of the Sport Management curriculum, as it provides students opportunities beyond the classroom. He’s just a wonderful person to be around, and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him here.”
With a friend already working for the Warriors, Smoot packed his bags in July 2018 and headed west to assume his new role with the G-League NBA affiliate team. Now he’s sandwiched between Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“Before I got here, I would have told you I’m not much of an outdoor person,” Smoot said. “Now I’m about five minutes from the beach. I’ve gone on three-hour hikes in the mountains. The redwoods here are just huge.”
While the landscape may be completely different than Omaha, there are a few similarities, Smoot said.
“The people here are very community-oriented. Everybody knows each other. That definitely feels like home to me.”