West Bloomfield, NY
"Our sport management program emphasizes... hands-on business experience and has opened my eyes to what the future may hold."
As the shot clock was winding down, hope floated up for junior guard Haley Zambito in a January 2014 women's basketball game vs. SUNY Cobleskill. Zambito, a management (sport management) major from West Bloomfield, New York, sunk her 152nd three-pointer to capture Cazenovia College's all-time leading record for this type of shot. As the game went on, Zambito banked three additional shots of this nature; one of which tied the game and another was a buzzer-beater that sealed the team's fate for the win. Now THAT's a team captain!
Growing up, Zambito was surrounded by sports. Her brother Mike, a lifelong basketball player himself, introduced her to the game when she was just three years old. The family driveway was a perfect setting to learn about the hoop and strengthen their sibling bond at the same time. Zambito officially joined a basketball team when she was six years old and her talent soon flourished on the hardwood.
After excelling at additional athletics and activities over the years - track, softball, soccer and guitar - Zambito decided to focus solely on basketball toward the end of her high school career. Encouragement from her high school coach led her to include Cazenovia College in her college search plans. Zambito recalls, "Caz had everything I was looking for - the ideal major, perfect class sizes, pleasant surroundings, and of course - a basketball team!"
She joined the women's basketball team with hopes of playing at the college level and becoming a leader. She did that and much more. She gained an extended "family" when she met her teammates and a close-knit support system like no other. "Everything in sports is mental," says Zambito. She notes that she and her fellow players push each other to their fullest potential and strive to accomplish goals together. And, while there is a fun side to the team - karaoke nights and singing battles on long bus rides, to name just a couple - the squad is fully committed when it comes to practice time and film sessions in order to reach success. They each thrive off of each other's encouragement.
While donning the #10 jersey has been an integral part of her Cazenovia College experience, another focus has helped guide Zambito in her Cazenovia journey - her major. Zambito is one of 320 student-athletes on campus, and she has found a way to balance being a driven sport management student and a dedicated, skilled athlete by implementing sound time management skills.
"It has been exciting to watch Haley quickly develop into one of the strongest, most well-organized sport management students," says Michelle Brimecombe, assistant professor and director of the Sport Management Program. "She frequently pushes others to match her efforts. I have no doubt that her personality, strengths and work ethic will bring her great accomplishments in life and allow her to excel within the sport industry in any way she chooses."
Zambito was drawn to her major because it combines her general love of athletics and the world of marketing. "I enjoy my courses because they show me how to relate to different types of consumers and how to have an impact on them," says Zambito. "Cazenovia's sport management program emphasizes the importance of hands-on business experience and has opened my eyes to what the future may hold."
Zambito had the opportunity to personally view a bigger picture of sports management while working as a sales and marketing intern for the Syracuse Silver Knights, a professional men's indoor soccer team. She served as a liaison between current sponsors and the front office, as well as recruiting prospective sponsors. She was also responsible for game day promotions and escorting the Silver Knights' mascot through the stands to visit fans and sponsors.
The skills Zambito gained during her brief internship, the achievements she earned while sporting blue and gold, and the influences she made while a student-athlete will surely serve her well as she makes her mark on the sports industry. As she moves toward her final year as a Wildcat, Zambito knows that wherever the road leads, one thing is for certain: the ball is in her court.