MBA student Arthi Chandrasekaran pictured with Tom Izzo on the basketball court at Breslin Center.

Arthi Chandrasekaran (right), pictured with MSU Coach Tom Izzo (center) on the basketball court at the Breslin Center

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.

Arthi Chandrasekaran in the Izzone at the Breslin Center.

Chandrasekaran (left) enjoying a game in the Izzone

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.