When Harprit Brar (MBA ’11), a member of the extensive Broad College of Business alumni network, came back to speak about her time at Michigan State University and her Spartan experience, I was caught by a memory of hers that she shared during the annual MBA admitted student weekend. She said she will always remember a winning touchdown she witnessed during a competitive football game at Spartan Stadium and the feeling of electricity that comes from being part of the student section.
Coming from a Division III school better known for their Intercollegiate Forensics program (which I competed in and coached for), sport culture and language always eluded me. I was inspired by Brar and determined to find a similar moment of “Spartan self-discovery.” The most meaningful part of my time in the MBA program at the Broad College has been becoming a member of the Izzone and applying my management curriculum to a sport context.
I had joined the Izzone as an MBA student interested in studying Tom Izzo’s public speaking style. I did not really care for basketball until I saw Cassius Winston in a home game against Rutgers. There was a moment where I watched all of the Rutgers players dive for a baited ball as Winston reduced all movement to a steady dribble. Thinking that they knew his rhythm, these players all saw a chance to dive, and exactly then I watched Winston execute a floating jump above where they thought he’d be. It looked like he just moved through time and space itself differently, like a time traveler. The ball went in with the precision and accuracy of a kill shot. It was like his mind was a time machine that was calculating outputs in the past, future and present while working with impossibilities.
This was one of my first games in the Izzone’s lower bowl after a dedicated semester sitting in the upper student section, and something shifted in me. I learned to stop worrying about graduate school stress and began to love the sport, the men’s basketball team and the Izzone. I went home and learned everything I could about the MSU team. I read about the team dynamics of some of the best college players in the game today, like Xavier Tillman, Aaron Henry, Malik Hall and Foster Loyer. It felt like I was immersing myself in part of a larger legacy as I learned so much about the players of our past. With every game, I learned that the nation had its eyes on the historic Breslin Center as I participated in ESPN’s GameDay in the cold of February, and I later listened to the 2000 championship team when they returned during the MSU vs. Maryland game.
I am so thankful that I had this chance to couple my MBA experience with the ability to watch a real-world leader like Coach Izzo at every home game. Not only have I been able to see the theory of the classroom materialize in team and leader dynamics on the court, but I feel a chill every time I watch Winston pull off his impossible kill shot. Thinking about teams and collaboration, a staple skill set uniquely developed at the Broad College, I get to personally apply moments from the Izzone and my own experience as a nationally ranked Intercollegiate Forensics coach to classes like leadership with Jonelle Roth and management with John Hollenbeck.
Next winter, I cannot wait to return for the alumni game at Breslin Center and watch next year’s team — and each and every team after that. It’s the electricity that comes from being part of the Spartan student section.