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Entrepreneurship students, Grand Rapids Gold collaborating on marketing study

Kelloggsville — Input from every student in Ryan Zuiderveen’s entrepreneurship class brought to life an exciting connection with the Grand Rapids Gold basketball team. 

Kelloggsville High School students worked together to create a survey and coordinate a halftime show for a Gold home game. 

Students worked on multiple tasks in the project, from formulating survey questions to creating promotional T-shirts and even photographing the event. The halftime show, held during a Nov. 30 game at Van Andel Arena, featured the school’s band and choir and a Latin dance group. 

‘They’re acting as entrepreneurs who are taking ownership of that entire process from start to finish.’

— teacher Ryan Zuiderveen on his students’ marketing study

Senior Amarri Purcell printed approximately 60 shirts for students participating in the halftime show to wear. 

“It was a good experience; it felt like a field trip (being at the game),” Amarri  said. “(To see) my craft on students and everyone at the game, I loved that, too.” 

Senior Alex Chavez took pictures of the game and halftime show. Chavez said being at the game “was cool because I saw different photographers there. I usually don’t see other photographers.” 

Grand Rapids Gold guard Norris Cole shoots a jump shot over Wisconsin Herd guard Lindell Wigginton during a game at Van Andel Arena (photo by Alejandro Chavez-Partida, Kelloggsville High School senior)

Making Connections

The idea for the halftime show came about when the Grand Rapids Gold, a developmental team for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, reached out to the school about a possible performance, Zuiderveen explained. Once he connected with Hayden Johnson, a Gold account executive, he then pitched the project to his class.

Seniors Moneek Pharms and Liliana Preciado “jumped at it” and led the project, Zuiderveen said. 

To get a halftime show from idea to reality, much needed to be done. 

For starters, Moneek had never cold-called anyone before, let alone an account executive for a NBA G League team. “‘What do I really say?’” she recalled thinking.  

Zuiderveen wrote down a few tips for her and coached her through the call. 

A relief fell over her once she started talking to Johnson. “I felt calm just talking to him,” Moneek said.  

Another relief came when he said yes to using their survey data in a marketing study. 

Classmates created the survey that was taken by 100 students. Questions covered topics about their interest in the team, if they’d ever been to a game, and what they liked most about the games.

One of the things the class learned from the survey was that most students liked seeing a halftime show. 

Learning by Doing

“They did a fantastic job approaching me about wanting to try this out,” Johnson said. “I knew Ryan was super eager to find hands-on experience for Moneek and Liliana. I think he did a great job of preparing them to email me and to call me.”

The students’ communication skills and professionalism were “great,” he added. 

“It was straight to the point,” Johnson said. “They provided me with some aspects of how they can benefit the Grand Rapids Gold and how we can benefit them and their experience outside the classroom.”  

“I think what really pops out to me is (that) taking on a project like this demonstrates a different level of maturity and professionalism,” Zuiderveen said. “They are the ones who are day-in and day-out checking in with Hayden (Johnson). They’re acting as entrepreneurs who are taking ownership of that entire process from start to finish.” 

Moneek said she looks back on the project as a “great accomplishment.”

“I was just so excited because nothing went wrong at all,” she said. “I’m definitely proud of myself and my partner.”

Moneek and Liliana will present the findings from the student survey to the team’s management soon, Johnson said. 

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Sean Bradley
Sean Bradley
Sean Bradley is a DeWitt native who has worked as a news reporter in several cities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He moved to Grand Rapids in March 2022 to be closer to the entertainment scene including live music and comedy. After graduating in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Central Michigan University, he started his writing career at the Manistee News Advocate, covering city government and law enforcement. He later moved onto The Morning Sun in Alma, and in 2018, went to the Livingston Daily Press and Argus. At these newspapers, he covered school boards and got to know superintendents and staff, learning the ins and outs of education reporting. He is excited to be reporting on Kelloggsville Public Schools for School News Network.


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