When Senior Max Casey applied to live in Elon’s sport management living learning community during his freshman year, he thought it would be a good way to meet like-minded individuals. He didn’t think much of the decision, and he didn’t expect to forge relationships that would define the rest of his time at Elon.

Max lived in the LLC in 2020 when pandemic restrictions prevented his hall from participating in many of the LLC’s activities and opportunities. Despite this, Casey said he was grateful for the connections he was able to make through the LLC.

“Even today, I still am roommates with two members of the LLC. I think all of us stuck together well and supported each other as much as we could.” Casey said. “People always say you won’t meet your lifelong friends in your freshman year hall but I disagree wholeheartedly.”

A recent manuscript published in Sports Innovation Journal in December 2023 examines the benefits of living in a Sport Management LLC. 

The article, titled “Why Living in a Sport Management Learning Community Matters,” was co-published by three Elon sports management professors — Cara Lucia, Mark Cryan and Shaina Dabbs — with the help of professor Mimi Benjamin from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

Lucia has worked with the LLC in some capacity for 12 years and undertook this research to assess the value of the programs she’s been involved in regarding sports management.

Co-author and co-adviser to Elon’s Sports Management and Media LLC, Professor Cara Lucia, emphasizes several key impacts that living in the LLC has on first-year residents. 

“What I've seen over the years doing this work is those relationships that are built with peers, faculty, staff, really exposes LLC residents to various opportunities on campus, helping them to find their place within the Elon University community,” Lucia said. “But then also it also exposes them to opportunities outside that allows them to explore more about the actual business side of sport.”

The LLC employs an intentionally engaged learning design to enhance the student experience. This program design comprises activities such as student-faculty dinners, guest speakers, and field trips, including a group tour of Duke University's athletic facilities. According to Lucia, these events provide students with insight into how their interest in sport can translate into a professional career, while also allowing students to develop worthwhile relationships with professors, alumni and industry professionals. 

In addition to these activities, the Sports Management LLC is linked to a COR1100: The Global Experience course which LLC residents take together as a part of their first-year experience. 

“It creates the opportunity to do the academic piece and find that support as well as explore a topic around sport management, but connecting it to the learning outcomes of Core 1100,” Lucia said. 

Freshman Abby Waeltz initially applied to live in the sports management LLC to meet people with common interests. Waeltz said that she quickly came to recognize the value of LLC activities and opportunities, which have encouraged her to further explore her personal and academic interests. 

“I think being able to meet with people who work in sports or being able to tour facilities has benefited my development,” Waeltz said. “The atmosphere is definitely supportive. Dr. Lucia has been great in helping us do the things we want to do. For myself personally, I feel she has helped me get the most out of my LLC experience.” 

In addition to academic and professional benefits, Waeltz has developed a strong bond with her LLC peers. 

“The social life within the LLC is almost indescribable. For the first couple weeks of school, everyone’s doors were always open or there were always people in the hallway.” Waeltz said. “Now that we know each other there are still always things going on. We have grown extremely close and are almost always together.” 

In her six years as co-adviser to the LLC, Lucia said she has found the program facilitates lasting relationships that oftentimes endure long after students have moved on to other residence halls. 

“The fascinating part of it is many of them will live in pockets together,” Lucia said. “So even if that's four of them in an apartment or in another residence hall space on campus, and then even if they're majoring in something different, they might get together to watch a football game or do something together.”