From planning events to doing the mascot’s laundry, Coyotes intern’s experience is all coming out in the wash

Wide-ranging duties in several team departments enhance career preparations

April 28, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

The names Suns, Cardinals and Diamondbacks were initially on Payton Padilla’s mind while he searched an athletics industry website for an internship to expand his knowledge of how sports are managed. Payton Padilla, intern, Arizona Coyotes, School of Community Resources and Development Payton Padilla on the ice at Gila River Arena in Glendale. Photo courtesy of Payton Padilla Download Full Image

When he came upon one called “PUCK internship,” he immediately realized he had forgotten the Valley’s fourth big-league organization, the Arizona Coyotes hockey team.

PUCK didn’t merely refer to what hockey players swing their sticks at for 60 minutes each game. It stood for something: Professional Uplifting Career Knowledge.

Padilla, a student in the School of Community Resources and Development, scored a goal with his application: He was one of six interns chosen from about 150 applicants. The professional uplifting career knowledge began, with tasks ranging from the routine, such as arranging to get player-autographed jerseys to charity auctions, to the creative, including planning team events.

Among the latter was Padilla’s and a partner intern’s capstone project, where they created an Olympic night commemorating the 18th anniversary of “Miracle,” a film about the “Miracle on Ice,” the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s surprise defeat of the Soviet Union. The event featured several hopefuls for the current U.S. team and former NHL players.

And some of the routine duties? Well, someone has to wash the suit worn by Howler, the team mascot.

“The head and tail have to be hosed down and sprayed with Lysol,” Padilla said. “The rest of it goes into the washer.”

Still, the experience involves far more than laundry duty. Currently Padilla, who this May will earn his Bachelor of Science in community sports management with a certificate in special events management, is working with several team departments on  the Coyotes’ plan to temporarily move into ASU’s new multipurpose arena in fall 2022.

Read on to learn more about Padilla’s internship and his preparations for a sports management career:

Question: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

Answer: I am originally from the Los Angeles area, La Puente to be exact. I originally went to Northern Arizona University and was majoring in political science because I wanted to eventually run for public office. During my freshman year I decided that field just was not for me and transferred down to ASU to study to eventually work in the sports field. Now as I am getting ready to graduate, I am getting ready to find a sports organization to join.

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: I had picked up a job at Scottsdale Stadium as a warehousing associate in February 2020 during my sophomore year, a month before everything shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was delivering peanuts, hot dogs, sodas and alcohol around the stadium to different concession stands, luxury suites and even the players dining hall.

Aside from doing all that, I asked my boss if I could get involved anywhere else just for some extra hours to help make ends meet. Little did I know I was working for anybody in that stadium that needed help, running the bar on game days, stocking all concessions on off days, helping with batting practice for the players, working special events in the stadium like weddings, business meetings, and even did some work with the grounds crew.

I think on game days, hearing the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat, the adrenaline rush when gates open and fans come pouring into their seats or having them tell me they enjoyed their experience, left me with that feeling of accomplishment. Having experienced those was my “aha” moment that I want to be involved in sports in any capacity. I have been chasing that adrenaline rush ever since that spring training season. After almost a two-year break from sports due to the pandemic, I am back chasing those adrenaline rushes again.

Q: Tell us about your internship with the Arizona Coyotes. What kind of work to you do?

A: My internship with the Arizona Coyotes is a rotational internship between six different departments. Me and my partner rotate once a month through departments throughout the organization for the duration of the season. The departments we rotate from include ticketing, hockey development, corporate partnerships, community impact, game presentation and marketing. Each department has a monthlong project that we work on along with more game-day responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities include setting up happy hours, helping with group events, educational events, a 50/50 raffle and special jersey auctions. Mostly in office we can volunteer at charity events and sit in on meetings with our department heads.

Q: What kinds of things are you involved in to promote fan interest and attendance in Coyotes games?

A: We’re a rebuilding team, so the way they approach it is to keep people excited about young players, having them check in “down on the farm” on young prospects and offer giveaways. Also, we promoted the longest-running Ironman streak (consecutive games played by a single player). (Coyotes winger) Phil Kessel is 35 games away from playing in 1,000 straight games. He is now the active player with the longest streak.

Q: What advice would you give to students thinking of interning with a big-league sports franchise?

A: One thing I would tell students is get out there and shake hands with people. Create those connections because the sports industry is a small community, and you never know when you can call on someone from your past to help you out. Another piece would be to ask questions, ask to get involved in different departments. If you have an internship, ask to do things outside of the description. It will help build your skills, you will become more well-rounded for future jobs and you will be able to learn more about the different processes that go into running a professional sports franchise.

During the pandemic everything was online, but now that we’ve come back a bit, I’m making a point to do things in person. They’ll remember you. You’ll make better connections. After interviews, send them an email thanking them. I feel that really has paid dividends for my upcoming career.

Take pride in your work, so when someone does vouch for you, you have something to speak about, something you’re proud to attach your name to. It’s old school, and it still works.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?

A: With my degree I hope somewhere along my career I can give back to my community in the form of youth sports. I grew up playing youth sports; one of my first jobs was coaching at a YMCA. This internship has given me the ability to see how community impact and grassroots marketing take approaches to growing different sports. It is something I would love to pursue because it is a rewarding experience to give kids the ability to play sports and make friends in the community.

Q: What is something you think would surprise people to learn about you?

A: I think something that would surprise people is my love for cooking and baking. I come from a family that enjoys cooking, and I grew up watching Food Network on Saturday morning growing up. My mom showed me how to make a lot of different recipes and passed down recipes since I was a kid. I also use the office as guinea pigs for new cookie recipes. I am also big into music, and Spotify is by far a staple in my life, on the way to and from work, even while sitting in the office.

Q: What is in your Netflix queue, or what movies/shows have you been recently hooked on?

A: I am really big into movies right now and am trying to learn more about the game of hockey and all sports in general. So, the ESPN “30 for 30” series is what I have been hooked on recently. I just finished “King’s Ransom,” and it was great to see a major part of NHL history when Wayne Gretzky was traded to my hometown LA Kings. I have been watching different “30 for 30s” on boxing, soccer, football, basketball. If you want to learn about major events in sports, definitely check out that series. Now they have smaller episodes for smaller events, too.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Next-generation laboratory course developed for online chemistry students

School of Molecular Sciences Professor Jeff Yarger pioneers an innovative approach to a laboratory course

April 28, 2022

Contemporary trends in commercial chemistry laboratory techniques are moving toward incorporation of more automation and remote access to scientific instrumentation and analysis.

Modern analytic scientific techniques increase efficiency and accuracy, and decrease costs by using cameras, autosamplers and other aspects of automation in concert with cloud connectivity to make measurements on samples and process data. ASU Professor Jeff Yarger speaking and gesturing with his hands in a laboratory setting. School of Molecular Sciences Professor Jeff Yarger is developing an updated version of the CHM 343 laboratory course taken by ASU Online students. Download Full Image

NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy, for example, has already embraced this approach, and routine NMR analysis at Arizona State University is now fully automated. 

Jeff Yarger, a professor in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences who oversees the NMR research facility, believes that teaching methods should prepare students with skills that will benefit them in the workforce after they graduate.

Students need to be prepared for the new automated world of instrumentation in chemistry and biochemistry, yet there are essentially no courses in the current chemistry or biochemistry curriculum at any academic institution that teaches these skills. This is the goal of a major update to the CHM 343 Physical Chemistry Laboratory course taught to ASU Online students.

“There is a rapid increase in automation of scientific and medical instruments in industry and the private sector,” Yarger said. “It is also becoming more common in academia, and to not see that future for the lab sciences would be short-sighted. Getting our students ready for that future is critical.”

Yarger is developing an updated version of the CHM 343 laboratory course that is taken by ASU Online students built around remote access and control of instrumentation.

The online class size is smaller than the on-campus course, which is helpful in this development stage, since there is no existing laboratory courses of this type that can provide guidance on how to make it all work. The advantage of this approach for online students is obvious, however, the longer-term goal is to bring this new laboratory course to all chemistry and biochemistry students, online and on campus.

Online students in Yarger’s course are taught to run a variety of analytical instruments remotely, and then view and interpret the results through internet-based interfaces. In one experiment, students use a remote-controlled acoustic interferometer equipped with a camera and microphone system to view and listen to the instrument as if they were in the same room with it. Data analysis is performed in real time using readily available soundwave analysis software.

Students gain experience working with state-of-the-art instrumentation and contemporary data analysis. In some experiments, Yarger has also had students submit their own samples for analysis, giving them additional ownership of the experience. Yarger has had to tackle some challenges along the way, specifically that different instruments have different interfaces, which represents an additional cognitive load for students who have to learn each interface.

“I would like to see the computer interface become more generalized for instruments, which would make it easier for students and researchers alike,” Yarger said. “A real benefit of this approach is that it allows students to focus more on the scientific analysis and less on the instrument, which puts them in the position to make new discoveries that benefit humanity.”

Yarger’s experience with this course development lays the groundwork for building a suite of remote-controlled instrumentation for both teaching and research. The future of molecular-based research will increasingly rely on robotics and remote analysis of samples and of data. Yarger’s own graduate students currently perform significant parts of their research remotely through the use of live video feeds and robotics.

“Chemistry is an inherently experimental subject that has required (the school) to come up with novel ways of providing authentic laboratory experiences to online students, and Jeff’s new course represents the next step in innovation in hands-on chemistry teaching and learning” said Ian Gould, associate dean for online learning and innovation in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Jeff is positioning (the school) and ASU as a leader in giving both online and on-campus students the experimental training they will need to be competitive in the job marketplace.”

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences