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Producing a History-Making Game

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Left to right: Aynav Leibowitz, Adam Rauch, Rick Hill, and Benjamin Gomez celebrate on the field after the Valero Alamo Bowl. Jeremy Wolf not pictured. 

Trinity connections run deep at the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl

by Carlos Anchondo ’14

CBS Sports ranked the Valero Alamo Bowl the No. 1 college football bowl game for the 2015-16 season. In one of the greatest comeback stories in recent bowl game history, Texas Christian University defeated Oregon in triple overtime, dominating the second half to overcome a 31-0 halftime deficit and finish 47-41. Behind the scenes of the historic game were Trinity Tigers Rick Hill ’91, vice president of marketing and communications for the Valero Alamo Bowl, media relations intern Adam Rauch ’15, and volunteer interns Aynav Leibowitz ’16, Benjamin Gomez ’17, and Jeremy Wolf ’16. The volunteer interns joined the Valero Alamo Bowl team for bowl week, just in time to witness history at the Alamodome.

A six-person team works year-round to produce the bowl, hiring three full-time interns in May to assist with sales and marketing, events and volunteers, and media relations. Volunteer interns are recruited for the week leading up to the game to document the fan experience, generate social media content, and enhance media relations.

Over the past four years, Hill has reached out to Trinity University students for support during the bowl’s busiest season.

“As volunteers, students gain valuable experience in this fast-paced, drink-from-the-firehose opportunity,” Hill says. “I know that Trinity students will represent the bowl well and will come to us with a lot of really good ideas.”

Rauch, a communication major and sport management minor from Houston, says that he first learned of internship possibilities with the Alamo Bowl during a symposium of San Antonio-area sports professionals coordinated by Jacob Tingle ’95, director of the Trinity experiential learning office and founder of the sport management minor. Upon graduation, Rauch became a fulltime intern overseeing credentials, providing content for the weekly newsletter, and organizing press box activities and media hospitality.

The trial-by-fire environment excited Rauch, who believes his adaptability will prove useful no matter where he goes in the sports industry.

“It felt good to be a part of a history-making game and to know that our staff and volunteers put together this awesome experience,” Rauch says.

Gomez, a business major from San Antonio concentrating in marketing and management, was among the volunteer intern team interviewing players and coaches, assisting media, and posting to and monitoring social media platforms. Gomez, Leibowitz, and Wolf were given all-access credentials, placing them on the field and in the press box during game day. Gomez said it was electrifying to see the quotes, photos, and video he captured repurposed as social media content that engaged with fans.

Active in the music industry as a booking agent, Gomez said it was neat to see how the music and sports industries compare and the role that social media plays with each.

“During bowl week, the game was getting thousands of mentions each day,” Gomez says. “At the end of the day, before it’s a game, the Alamo Bowl is also a production, with all of the hype and fanfare that comes with a national sporting event.”

Leibowitz, a communication major with minors in sport management, human communication, and creative writing, says that working bowl week from the public relations perspective was an interesting departure from her news background as a WOAI and FOX intern. Originally from Israel, Leibowitz says one of the most rewarding moments of bowl week was granting two pageantry credentials to a mother and son celebrating the TCU victory that gave them post-game access to the field.

“I am passionate about anything related to sports and the media,” Leibowitz says. “Working in this real-world setting with other Trinity students and alumni was an amazing opportunity.”

Wolf, a communication major and sport management minor from Scottsdale, Ariz., agreed and said there is something uniquely special about the Trinity bond. He says that he is continually impressed with the level of respect that Trinity alumni have for current students and the lengths that they will go to when exploring opportunities for students.

Although this experience only lasted seven days, Wolf says he learned a lot about what it means to be on a team and the importance of every task, no matter how big or small. He encourages all Trinity students to take advantage of opportunities such as the Alamo Bowl, where you never know how great things might turn out.

“I was on the field when the game turned for TCU. The energy from the stadium made all of our hard work worth it,” Wolf says. “We had the best seats in the house.”

Carlos Anchondo is a writer and editor for University Marketing and Communications and a 2014 Trinity graduate. He can be found on Twitter at @cjanchondo or at canchond [at] trinity.edu.