A Journey to the Super Bowl: Q&A With 5 Student Wi-Fi Coaches

Lisa Yeaton Senior Specialist, Social Media Published 29 Jan 2020

The best of the best descend upon South Florida this Sunday for one of the biggest events of the year, Super Bowl LIV. The best won’t just be top athletes, football coaches, analysts, and fans. The best logistics and security personnel, referees, reporters, communications providers, network experts, Wi-Fi Coaches and more will be powering the event. 

What’s a Wi-Fi Coach?

A Wi-Fi Coach is an individual that assists fans with the accessibility, usability, and reliability of a stadium’s large scale high-density wireless network and supports game day apps. Their mission is to enhance the fan experience! Twenty Wi-Fi Coaches from across the nation and various NFL and college stadiums will make up the SBLIV Wi-Fi Coach team.

This year, five of those Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches are students actively enrolled in universities. Four CIS students from West Texas A&M University and one Computer Science student from the University of Southern California will be educating fans on the free Wi-Fi and NFL resources.

“I’m amazed that I get to go to the Super Bowl at all. The hospitality and kindness of the employees at Extreme has been incredible. I have never dreamed of being able to do something like this, it’s been a surreal experience.” – Tina Ward, WTAMU

Students representing WTAMU include:

  • Tina Ward, a fan of underdogs like the Broncos and Ravens this past season.
  • Beau Robbins, a Vikings fan who plans to get into networking and become a network engineer after graduation.
  • Aditya (AJ) Jagdale, a sophomore as well as an international student with a passion for traveling and trying new experiences.
  • Matthew Webb, a telecom enthusiast.

Andrew Hutchison, a die-hard Steelers fan, having been raised in the same home town as QB Ben Roethlisberger, will represent USC.

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“I’m super excited. This has always kind of been a dream of mine, to go to the Super Bowl.” – Andrew Hutchison, USC

I had the pleasure of speaking with these incredible students about their unique experiences as Wi-Fi Coaches at their respective universities and what they are most excited for come Super Bowl Sunday. Here are their stories:

Question #1: What is your favorite part of the Wi-Fi Coach Program?

Tina: I got to be a part of a special experience that not very many people get to be a part of. I’m so excited for next season to influence others to join our team and make the most of their on-campus experience.

Beau: The experience! We got to meet new people and I’ve learned how to communicate with different groups of people and I’ve just never fully realized what it’s like to work with people with different perspectives – it’s been eye-opening.

“I loved seeing the look of amazement on fans’ faces when we connected them to Wi-Fi. They had no idea it could be that easy.” – Beau Robbins, WTAMU

AJ: I enjoyed testing the network and going to different places and just seeing how it affects network speeds and troubleshooting some of the issues that users had. It was very fun for me.

Andrew:I thought it was awesome! Connecting with the fans at every game was great, I worked in the same area each game, so I got to know the regulars on a first name basis and their stories. Helping fans connect to the Wi-Fi and realize the capabilities was a rewarding experience.

Matt: The impact it had on the fans! High-speed internet is not as widely available/adopted in the area, most people are likely to get 20 to 60 Mbps, while at the stadium they receive a 90 – 150 Mbps. It was really cool to see the excitement on the fans’ faces.

“It’s really important for us to give students hands-on learning experience in something in their fields. To me, the Wi-Fi Coach program is one of our most rewarding experiences – to see our CIS students get to be involved from the ground up and have the opportunity to build the network, work with the consultants from Extreme and participate in something our student body voted for and lead an aspect of it was extraordinary.” – James Webb, VP of IT & CIO, WTAMU

Question #2: What has been your biggest takeaway from being a Wi-Fi Coach this season?

Tina: My biggest takeaway from being a Wi-Fi Coach was there is more to teamwork and customer service than just knowing about the product you are trying to promote. Being a genuine and joyful person who can take direction, and make others feel welcome is what truly makes a difference.

Beau: I’ve learned the importance and difference the Wi-Fi Coaches have on the network activity and the overall enjoyment of the sport or event for the people attending it.

“Since the stadium Wi-Fi is so good, we have students saying they wish they could do their homework out there and just hang out there all the time.” – Beau Robbins, WTAMU

AJ: Learning how different fans use Wi-Fi in the stadium. That was very astonishing for me. Some people did homework, some people post to social media stories, and others live stream – it was just amazing to see that. 

Andrew: Seeing how excited fans were about the Wi-Fi Coaches and the Wi-Fi! It was the first year the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ever had Wi-Fi. My job was important because the Wi-Fi Coaches needed to educate the fans.

Matt: My increased awareness of how a network really operates. We got to see how the network works on a macro scale, which really helped me understand how to troubleshoot issues and tackle problems in the field.

“With a historical renovation to a building that’s a national landmark, we were doing something very aggressive in terms of technology, our ability to humanize that with the Wi-Fi Coaches and take [Wi-Fi] something that could be abstract to most fans and make it something that was much more, I think digestible for those that maybe were technology averse was a huge benefit.” – Jeff Fucci, Associate Athletic Director, USC Athletics Department

Question #3: How will you leverage the skills you’ve learned from your Wi-Fi Coaching experience?

Tina: Your attitude and character can make or break your experience as not only a Wi-Fi Coach but in life. I’m going to choose to make my attitude and character an asset.

Beau: I’m going to be able to communicate better. Depending on the technical knowledge of the people you’re assisting, you need to find ways to make it easy for them to understand what you’re doing and what they need to do.

AJ: The technical skills I discovered working with both Android and Apple devices. That is going to come in handy after graduation, in the networking field.

Andrew: I gained a lot of good communication skills from working with both the IT department and the fans. Talking through problems with both parties and finding solutions was one of the most rewarding aspects. 

Matt: A skill I’ll use moving forward is being able to gauge technological intelligence based off of people’s expressions and how they approach you and communicate. When people come up to you and they have a certain expression or they’re holding their phone with that look on their face, it’s nonverbal. Preparing for people without verbally communicating will definitely prepare me for future situations.

Question #4: What are you most excited about for SBLIV?

Tina: To learn and be around extremely successful and talented individuals, who get to do what my team and I did during the season.

“It is not every day that you get to learn more about technology, travel to a place you have never been to, and go to the Super Bowl to utilize everything you have learned.” – Tina Ward, WTAMU

Beau: I’m super excited to just experience the game and what it will be like to be around so many people. I’ve never attended any professional football game, so my first one will be the Super Bowl. It’s going to be really fun and exciting, especially with two really aggressive teams going at it.

 AJ: Being from India, I have very little knowledge of football, but I am super excited about the experience and the traveling. I love traveling and it’s a great opportunity – the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event of the year in the US.

Andrew: I’m super excited! It’s always been a dream of mine to go to the Super Bowl. I’ve been a Steelers fan my whole life, so I’m a little sad I won’t see them, but you know, getting to see two awesome teams go head-to-head at the biggest game is absolutely a dream come.

Matt: I’m really looking forward to enjoying the game, but I also really seeing how the best of the best operate. This is a huge event and if there are major mistakes, then the whole network will go down. There’s a lot at stake so I’m looking forward to seeing how everything operates.

Question #5: Which team do you think will win on Super Bowl Sunday?

Tina: Both teams have fought hard, but I think the Chiefs will pull out the win.

Beau: I’m thinking the Chiefs will pull out the win. But either way, I’m just hoping for an aggressive game.

AJ: I don’t have a preference on the field, but I do know the fans will win in the stands with Extreme Wi-Fi and amazing connectivity experience.

Andrew: I’m hoping the Chiefs can pull it together, come Super Bowl Sunday.

Matt: If I had to bet money, which I won’t, but if I did, I’d probably put it on the Chiefs.

Attending SBLIV? Be sure to seek out a Wi-Fi Coach and ask them about the network! They’ll be in turquoise polos and black pants. Take a picture with a coach and put it up on social with the hashtag #WiFiCoach and tag @ExtremeNetworks.

Want to learn more about the Wi-Fi Coach experience? Check out Tina, Beau, AJ, Andrew, and Matt’s personal blog posts:

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