UCM alumni travel with chiefs to 2020 Superbowl

By Emily Kepley, Marketing Undergraduate Student

Superbowl 2020 action

Photo by Andrew Mather/Kansas City Chiefs

On the beat

BJ Kissel grew up attending Chiefs games at Arrowhead Stadium with his dad. “We took the same route every morning, we stopped at the same McDonald’s, we parked in the same parking lot; it was our routine pretty much my entire childhood.”

The tradition continued into Kissel’s college years when he enrolled at Central Missouri State University in fall 2001. Even though he played for the national title-winning 2003 Mules Baseball team, he had always enjoyed watching football and wanted to get closer to the action.

“From the day I first stepped on campus, I knew I wanted to get into sports broadcasting,” Kissel says.

Fast forward to 2010, when Kissel was living in California and writing for the blog Arrowhead Pride. When he and his wife moved back to Missouri four years later, Kissel pursued the opportunity to transition from part-time blogging to full-time reporting. He took the initiative to travel to the Senior Bowl to gain experience in front of athletes. A heartfelt story he wrote about a player he met during that experience ultimately landed him a position with the Kansas City Chiefs.

BJ Kissel 2After six seasons with the Chiefs, he found himself en route to the Super Bowl with the team he has followed his entire life.

“It was awesome to see all those Chiefs fans and just know I was part of a team that gave that experience to all those fans,” Kissel says.

The week leading up to the Super Bowl was filled with media engagements. During the game, Kissel was on the sideline relaying information to the radio broadcast, as well as experiencing the game as a fan. He could be seen in several clips yelling and celebrating in the background — and says he lost his voice completely.

When he returned to Kansas City, Kissel saw right away how widespread the excitement was among fans who were lining the highway from the airport to the Chiefs headquarters, hoping to catch a glimpse of the buses as they passed.

“That’s when it hit that this was something special,” Kissel says. “I think the coolest part of the whole experience, to me, was the parade because it changed the city. … The whole experience was just surreal.”

 

Chiefs Rumble Drumline

On the Drumline

“It was surreal,” Ian and Kelsey McClaflin recall of their experience at Super Bowl 2020. This UCM alumni couple had the adventure of a lifetime traveling to Miami with Chiefs Rumble, the drumline for the Kansas City team.

Ian, ’12, and Kelsey, ’15, met while studying music and playing in UCM’s Marching Mules. Today, Kelsey teaches elementary music, and Ian is assistant coordinator of UCM Marching Percussion. “It’s cool for me to continue and help build something that I was a part of initially,” he says.

Superbowl 2020 drumlineEstablished 11 seasons ago, Chiefs Rumble is a key part of the fan experience at Arrowhead Stadium. Since Ian has played for 10 seasons and Kelsey for nine, they were among the five veteran musicians selected to travel with the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.

Prior to game time, the drumline participated in a collaboration with the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders at the friends and family tailgate. Percussionists were able to “bring the next level of excitement as people were coming in,” Ian says. This led into several more pregame performances at Hard Rock Stadium before they were able to sit and enjoy the game.

“We got to experience the game as fans with other fans,” Kelsey says of this unusual experience. The drumline typically plays the halftime show and doesn’t get to sit in the stands. “Watching the reaction of the fans and the players was probably my favorite part.”

After the game, the drumline attended the Chiefs after-party. Ian and Kelsey recall the level of excitement and raw emotion from all of the players and individuals closely involved with the team. The entire trip gave them an opportunity not only to do what they do best but also to interact with both players and fans on a whole new level.

 

Supwerbowl 2020 sideline

Photo by Andrew Mather/Kansas City Chiefs

On the Sideline

UCM alumnus Andrew Mather, ’12 and ’15, was one of three photographers to join the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami to capture images of Super Bowl 2020. It was a full week of photo assignments prior to the big game, including charity events and press conferences. One day was spent with the Chiefs cheerleaders as they participated in the Baskets of Hope community service project and the Special Olympics Flag Football Championship game.

“Once game day arrived, it was just a whirlwind of excitement,” Mather says. “The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.”

Andrew Mather

Andrew Mather (Photo by Steve Sanders, Chiefs Team Photographer)

Does your career take you interesting places? How are you using the skills you developed at the University of Central Missouri? We'd love to hear your story! Email the editor at ucmmagazine@ucmo.edu.

 

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