Otterbein Students Plan and Organize International Sports Film Festival of Ohio

Posted Mar 18, 2022

By Madelyn Nelson ‘23

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Otterbein provides hands-on, immersive experiences for students, and the International Sports Film Festival of Ohio is a shining example of the classroom spanning far beyond the walls of Otterbein academic buildings. 

Sports management students are organizing and hosting the fifth annual International Sports Film Festival of Ohio from March 21-24, 2022. The event includes three film screenings, two guest speakers a Lunch and Learn and film discussions.  

All events are free to Otterbein students, faculty and community members, and are held in various buildings on Otterbein’s campus. More information and registration for all events can be found on their website. 

Planning the ISFFO began in August 2021 during a year-long sports management class. The course includes brainstorming and planning in the fall semester, and final touches, execution, and evaluation in the spring semester. 

Sophomore sports management and public relations major Nathan Leko is one of the co-leaders of the event. The Solon, Ohio, native has seen his own growth in many skills since beginning the planning for the festival. 

“This class has allowed me to better communicate with my peers across the board, from school, to work, and to everyday life,” said Leko. “These communication skills include face-to-face communication, phone calls, text messaging, and email. I am also much better with my public speaking projects at Otterbein.” 

The festival includes two notable, sports-focused speakers along with the film screenings throughout the week. 

On March 22, former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett will be the guest speaker, discussing his new book, One and Done. On March 23, the event includes a Lunch and Learn with Craig Calcaterra, a baseball and sportswriter based in New Albany. 

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Nathan Leko ’24

On Thursday, March 24, the festival will screen The Loyola Project, which tells the story of the Loyola Ramblers, a college basketball team, and how they broke racial barriers in 1963. After applying to screen The Loyola Project, Otterbein became one of few schools in the country to get the right to screen the film.  

The festival will also screen We Are The Troopers on March 21, and LFG on March 23. Both films were chosen by the class with the intention of bringing value and a new perspective around sports. 

The ISFFO gives students unique educational opportunities but will also set Otterbein sports management students apart when looking for internships and jobs. 

“I’ve thought about working for an event planning organization, and this project will give me a head start over others who are looking to work in the same field,” said Leko. “Few sport management majors get an opportunity like this at other universities, so I am very lucky to have this opportunity at Otterbein.” 

Megan Chawansky, assistant professor of sport management, instructs the class and oversees the festival. She has seen the students grow into their roles. 

“I’ve seen them take more pride and ownership of the project, which is exciting to see,” said Chawansky. “Just knowing what their role is, and then how they have to communicate with others in the class, I think that’s probably the biggest growth areas.” 

As the ISFFO grows closer at the end of March, the students are also feeling the excitement of their hard work paying off. 

“It’s been a lot of work and we’ve been working hard all year, and I can’t wait to see it all come together — I know it will be a success,” said Leko.  

“I’m also really looking forward to hearing from our guest speakers. It will be nice to hear them speak in person rather than communicating with them via email,” Leko added. 

The ISFFO will be an impactful experience for students to take into future endeavors with invaluable experience in event planning, and connections in the community. 

“For our students in the class, I hope they leave [the event] with some confidence that they could step into any role, whether it’s in sports or out of sports, that they could be a leader and effective in hand delivering an event for an organization.” 

“I hope that this [event] helps them to appreciate people’s stories and their experiences in sport,” said Chawansky. 

The International Sports Film Festival of Ohio is free and open to the Otterbein and Westerville communities. Registration and more information can be found on the ISFFO website here.