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Q&A with student volunteers at center of NBA All-Star Weekend

It was an exciting weekend Feb. 16 to 18 in Indianapolis as thousands of basketball fans from around the world arrived downtown for NBA All-Star Weekend. From the All-Star game itself, to the celebrity game, slam dunk contest and fan events, all eyes were on the Circle City, and thousands of volunteers showed up to make it all happen.

Senior sports management majors Anna Greenfield and Noah Stranahan were among the volunteers working the big events. They share some of the highlights of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Question: What was volunteering like during the All-Star Weekend? What were your jobs?

Greenfield: Volunteering and working All-Star Weekend was a crazy experience, but in the best way possible. To set up Georgia Street downtown, I assisted with moving bike racks and securing screens along the street. I also worked various jobs including NBA production stand-in, where people are brought in as stand-ins for players and other talent as the NBA went through the run-of-show and all the production elements.

I was one of over 5,000 volunteers that helped during the NBA Cares 24-hour service project that packed 1 million meals to be distributed to food pantries across Indiana.

During the NBA Rising Stars Game and the NBA All-Star Game, as part of my job with the Pacers, I served as a premium experience ambassador working in one of the premium spaces inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Stranahan: I had many different roles volunteering during the All-Star Weekend. I was a production stand-in for rehearsals of all the events including the All-Star Game, Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest. I also distributed volunteer uniforms, worked an event at the Vogue theater, and worked at the Rising Stars Game and All-Star Game as a premium experience host.

Q: There was a lot going on all over downtown. How would you describe the spectacle and event that was the NBA All-Star Weekend?

Greenfield: What I’ve always loved about sports is how unifying they are, and it’s amazing to see people of all different backgrounds come together. Whether people attended one of the basketball events, attended a concert or walked around downtown, everyone had a part in creating an electric environment in our city. It truly is incredible to host an event such as NBA All-Star Weekend.

Stranahan: NBA All-Star Weekend was a massive celebration of all things basketball in a state that knows how to put on a basketball event. There were multiple basketball-themed activations, tens of thousands of fans out and about in the city, and four days of the biggest NBA events of the season.

Q: What is your favorite memory from this weekend?

Greenfield: For the All-Star Game itself, I was fortunate enough to be in a space with several of the Pacers Sports & Entertainment executives, along with those on the All-Star Host Committee, and it was extremely rewarding to see them celebrate such a successful weekend. Everyone had this feeling and sense of ‘We did it.’ Since we were originally supposed to host NBA All-Star Weekend in 2021, this event was seven years in the making, and to have finally completed it was an incredible feeling.

Stranahan: My favorite memory from the weekend was working the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night. Seeing the fans rally behind the city and all of the festivities throughout the game was special to see, and I’m grateful I got to play a role.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of such a big event?

Greenfield: Volunteering for large sporting events like NBA All-Star Weekend is an incredible honor. Most college students don’t go to school in a city like Indianapolis that brings in these events and provides these opportunities.

When you choose a career in the sports industry, you learn so much about the behind-the-scenes of these events and what it takes to put them on. I think knowing the work that has gone into planning these big events is what makes it that much more rewarding to be a part of.

Stranahan: It means so much to be able to have a role in providing this city a major event to attend. Being at IU Indianapolis’s campus, we have access to so many major events, and being able to gain experience at such a high-profile weekend is a major talking point as I continue in my career as a young events professional. Seeing how the community can be positively affected is always my favorite part.

Q: Would you encourage other students to volunteer like this? If so, how can they learn more and find these opportunities?

Greenfield: Whether you’re a sports management student or not, I strongly encourage other students to volunteer. Not only is it great for volunteer hours, but it allows you to be a small part of history in a way. The Indiana Sports Corp is a great way to get involved. Additionally, you can get involved with our Sports Management Club on campus to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

Stranahan: I would encourage everyone interested in sports and event management to volunteer at similar events that come through the city. Coming up, we have even more major events like USA Swimming Trials and the 2026 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Reaching out to professors and peers who are well-connected in the city is a great place to begin finding opportunities, and always saying “yes” to something even if it seems like a small role. The small parts add up quickly and lead to more experiences down the line.

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