Katharine Bohlmann got the surprise of her young professional career earlier this month when she found out she's a 2020 Front Office Sports Rising 25 awardee.
Established in 2017, the Front Office Sports Rising 25 Award has become one of the most competitive and prestigious awards in sports business. Former Rising 25 winners have gone on to start companies, lead departments, and shape the industry as we know it today.
Front Office Sports received more than 500 nominations for the award.
“I’m excited and honored to be selected and be part of the group and be in the company of so many young, talented innovators. I’m looking forward to getting to learn from all of my peers across the industry,” said Katharine, who earned her Sport Management degree in 2019. “But most of all, it’s humbling to get to represent the University of Michigan, the Sport Management program, Sport Business Association, and of course the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.”
To celebrate nominees, Front Office Sports created Rising 25 FC, a physical and digital manifestation of a soccer club. Each member of the class receives a custom jersey, scarf, and an award. Current plans are to hold some kind of celebration in the fall in New York City with members from each of the four classes. They will meet top executives from industry-leading companies and engage in an immersive day of case studies and learning at the Anheuser-Busch headquarters.
Katharine noted that she knew three of her peers selected in this class from her internship with the NFL.
Between the professors, alumni, the Sport Management Advisory Board…there’s just so much exposure to the people leading the sport industry. It’s the best network in sports and has set my peers and me up for success!
Katharine started as a member of the organization’s inaugural Leadership Rotational Program class. Alongside three others, she rotated through three different areas of the business – public relations and community affairs, corporate partnerships, and marketing – throughout her first year to gain exposure to different sectors of the business before being placed in her current position.
Once her rotation was over, Katharine landed with corporate partnerships, where she is a manager of business solutions “We’re essentially the strategy arm of the team,” she said. "We help support new business as well as our activation team to help create new ideas, platforms, and revenue streams, and think critically about different business objectives for our partners in conjunction with our own Dolphins brand.” The group also interfaces with the NFL office and other teams so they can stay atop industry insights and trends.
“In addition to getting to work with our internal department, I get to interface with all of the other departments within the company,” Katharine explained. “I am able to combine everything from PR, marketing, and all of my rotations into one in my current role which is a ton of fun. It’s also pretty unique that since we as Hard Rock Stadium are a ‘Global Entertainment Destination.’ We get to work closely on a bunch of non-Dolphins events, including soccer, the Miami Open, concerts, and outdoor movie theaters.”
One of her favorite projects was working on the plastic-free initiative leading up to Super Bowl LIV, and she is currently working on COVID-19 preparations for the upcoming NFL season.
Katharine said the Sport Management program gave her the real-world, hands-on experiences that both exposed her to and taught her about the industry.
“Between the professors, alumni, the Sport Management Advisory Board…there’s just so much exposure to the people leading the sport industry,” she said. “It’s the best network in sports and has set my peers and me up for success!”
Katharine started working with U-M Football as a first-year student in the Sports Information Director’s Office, where she assisted with game-day media operations, press conferences, media availabilities, tracking statistics, interfacing with various beat writers and networks, and the team’s social media accounts.
She also joined the Sport Business Association (SBA) as a first-year student and became president by her junior year. Under Katharine’s leadership, the group went on trips to Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and even abroad to London.
“It was an awesome experience getting to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and then apply it in real-world experiences, with SBA bringing in different industry speakers and executives to help all of us learn from and network with people,” she said.
Katharine was also a member of Michigan Women Empowerment in Sports & Entertainment (MWESE) and served on the Bicentennial Student Advisory Committee.
For Katharine, the best part about the Sport Management program is the passion the professors, students, and alumni have for the business of sport.
“I wouldn’t know half the people I know in the industry if it wasn’t for Sport Management,” she said. “I’ve entered the industry alongside my friends and colleagues who will one day be leading different organizations.”
Katharine’s advice for the incoming first-year class? Take advantage of all the opportunities the Sport Management program offers, including the professors, who are industry pioneers.
“There are so many resources and opportunities to learn, network, and advance yourself in your career. If you take the time to do it now, people will be more willing to help you learn and grow, and those are going to be connections you’re going to have for the rest of your time in the industry,” she said. “So use me, use other alumni, use faculty, and most importantly, use your classmates to help advance yourself. Forever Go Blue!”