Garion Warr knew about Pau Gasol’s National Basketball Hall of Fame credentials when he was growing up in Memphis.
Gabriella Treviño admitted she was star-struck when she sat behind Gasol and fellow NBA legend Dwayne Wade.
But neither Warr nor Treviño, students in the Grand Canyon University Colangelo College of Business, got caught up in the hype and concentrated with aplomb, instead, on performing the biggest duties of their young careers.
“You stay normal because it’s your job,” Warr, a sophomore, said of the duties he and Treviño fulfilled as interns with the Position Sports Media team assisting with the Naismith Memorial National Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement this summer in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“After working with them (the Hall of Famers) and being around them for the entire weekend, you learn they’re just another human being as well,” Treviño said.
Neda Barrie, Faculty Chair of Sports and Entertainment for the college, recommended Warr and Treviño because of their willingness to learn all facets of the profession and because they possess an elevated level of maturity and professionalism.
“They’re not afraid to do the little things or the big things,” Barrie said. “It is a sign of someone passionate and hungry to do well.
“I worked in the NBA for 20 years. I mentored and had been around it. My whole job was athletes. I can tell within five minutes how somebody is going to be, or not, around players, and I would never recommend students that want to be more of a fan than want to do a job.”
Barrie said Warr and Treviño did not know each other before their internship but were delighted to learn how they flourished assisting basketball’s greatest players.
“It was the first time I picked a freshman,” Barrie said of selecting Warr. “But I felt Garion was a special kid.”
Warr knew the importance of making sure every Hall of Fame player was at his or her station for interviews and to keep them on schedule.
“Everyone has their own agenda,” Warr said. “But I will say during that time period, it was great.”
The two interns got a behind-the-scenes look at Hall of Famers' Enshrinement obligations, such as autographing jerseys, basketballs and cards for the HOF, and later escorting them offstage after receiving their HOF ring and jackets to take photographs with the jacket and ring sponsors.
Warr and Treviño treasured the time they spent with recent inductees Dirk Nowitzki and Gasol, but the experience was extra special for Treviño, a member of GCU’s Women in Business club.
“I had a lot of fun working with the 1976 U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team, as well as Becky Hammon,” Treviño said. “Women in sports is big and important to me. So getting to talk to them – not just about sports – made me as excited as them to be there.
Treviño was particularly honored to assist Hammon on the red carpet and fulfill interview and photograph obligations on a tight schedule.
Hammon arrived the morning of the ceremony because of coaching obligations the previous night for the Las Vegas Aces and needed to return immediately after HOF Enshrinement ceremonies to coach the next day.
“She was so excited to be there,” said Treviño, who also was honored to be asked to take photos with Sue Rojcewicz of the 1976 team that represented the U.S. in Olympic women’s play for the first time and won a silver medal.
Patrick O’Connell, Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Market at Position Sports, characterized Warr and Treviño as“outstanding" interns.
“From the start, they jumped right into the controlled chaos of the weekend and provided essential support at the Class of 2023 press conference, Tip-Off Celebration and Gala, red carpet event and Enshrinement ceremony,” said O’Connell, who served in media relations positions with Major League Baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox for 20 seasons.
“They handled themselves as professionals, and we can’t wait to work with them again at a future event.”
The relationship between Position Sports and the National Basketball Hall of Fame was nurtured by Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the HOF and the namesake of GCU's College of Business.
For now, Warr and Treviño hope to enhance their GCU experience.
“My overall experience has been just staying true,” Warr said. “I have a lot of stuff I am dealing with outside of school. I am staying more focused on the school end, and my theme throughout my whole life is striving to be the best I can be.
“GCU has helped me feel like I have a potential I can reach,” Warr said.
Treviño appreciates the support of Barre and networking through GCU’s Women in Business and Sports and Entertainment Business clubs.
“The opportunities I've received here have prepared me for these events, expanded my curiosity and have very much made me want to go further, like further than I thought I could even go before I was at GCU,” Treviño said.
“The classes (in sports management) taught me background things that I need to know, as well.”
Warr, who worked in fan services at the Super Bowl in February, was scheduled to work with the guest service team for the Arizona Cardinals this fall.
“GCU made me realize sports is more than what you just see on TV,” Warr said.
Treviño is looking for more duties after earning experience in sales (with the Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Camelback Ranch), events (Phoenix Raceway) and media (National Basketball Hall of Fame).
“My goal before I graduate is definitely to dip my toes into a little bit of everything,” Treviño said. “I haven't done everything yet, but I want to be able to experience a little bit of everything before I leave so that once I am ready to graduate, I know what I like, what I don't like and what I really want to focus on in my career afterward.”
GCU senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]