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Bentley student Andrew Lussier ’26 competes in the CLTX Shamrock Showdown Collegiate NBA 2K Tournament against a Northeastern student in front of a crowd at Harry's Pub at Bentley
Andrew Lussier ’26 (seated right) faces off against a Northeastern student during the CLTX Shamrock Showdown Collegiate NBA 2K Tournament.

As part of a multiyear partnership between Bentley University and the Boston Celtics, a group of Bentley University students worked with management from CLTX Gaming — the professional esports team affiliated with the Boston Celtics — to plan the Boston region’s first-ever collegiate NBA 2K24 championship tournament. Held in spring 2024, the CLTX Shamrock Showdown Collegiate NBA 2K Tournament featured students from select schools who competed in the popular NBA 2K24 basketball video game. Following an online bracket playoff series, the in-person championship was held on the Bentley campus at Harry’s Pub. It was standing-room only as the crowd watched the faceoff between Bentley and Northeastern University — with Bentley student Andrew Lussier ’26 securing the victory. The event included a special appearance by Boston Celtics player Jordan Walsh, who awarded the trophy to the tournament champion and posed for photos with students. 

Bentley students designed the event, developed branding and promotions, and managed logistics for the inaugural collegiate tournament as part of the “Marketing Projects” (MK 411) and Honors Capstone (HNR 440) courses taught by Senior Lecturer in Marketing Erin Flynn

“These are the first experiential learning courses offered as part of the Bentley partnership with the Boston Celtics, so it’s exciting for students, faculty, staff and the whole Bentley community,” Flynn says. “The students got a hands-on immersive experience with leadership from Celtics Gaming.”

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Jim Ferris, managing director of CLTX Gaming, regularly came to campus to meet with students, who presented ideas for event design, branding and promotional strategy for both the online tournament and the in-person championship. This is exactly the kind of experience that Sid Goel ’24 was looking for when he enrolled in HNR 440.

“I studied abroad my junior year at the London School of Economics and, through some of my coursework, I became intrigued by corporate consulting,” says Goel, who is a Data Analytics major. “I really wanted to dip my toes into the world of consulting — working with a real company to help them analyze data to solve a problem or make a change — before I graduated Bentley. I had heard other students talk about a corporate immersion course where they got to work with amazing companies, so I wanted to do everything I could to get into that course. When I found out that we would be working with Celtics Gaming, I was even more excited.”

Goel was on the promotional strategies team for the championship while Ariana Pena-Herrera ’24 was part of the student team that organized the playoffs, but the pair and their respective groups worked closely to coordinate initiatives like a social media campaign, digital signage and tabling events with giveaways. The team connected with student organizations across campus, including the Bentley Student Gaming Organization, for their support promoting events. They also enlisted the beloved Bentley mascot, Flex the Falcon, to engage students by making random appearances around campus with a mini basketball hoop. 


Both Flynn and Ferris were impressed by the students’ dedication throughout the process. “From day one, the students’ passion surrounding the project was apparent,” Ferris says. “I was also pleasantly surprised early on with their level of creativity and ability to turn ideas, like early branding and trophy concepts, into quality executions. With every visit and interaction, they were highly engaged and asking interesting and relevant questions. I credit their energy throughout the classwork as a key element to making the Shamrock Showdown Finals event at Bentley such a success.”

Ferris was particularly impressed by their approach to problem-solving. “Students showed up with passion, commitment and a drive to succeed. As we worked to introduce a new competition, there were plenty of unknowns and challenges we had to deal with along the way. Although there were times that the students were likely disappointed that things might not play out exactly as they had hoped, they quickly recalibrated and focused on the next/new opportunity.” 

Students showed up with passion, commitment and a drive to succeed.
Jim Ferris
Managing Director of CLTX Gaming

Pena-Herrera, who is a Marketing major and marketing chair on the Bentley FirstGen Presidential Fellows leadership development program, appreciates how Ferris engaged with students during brainstorming sessions. “Jim valued our opinions just as much as a regular colleague and on countless occasions he was open to revisiting ideas if we advocated for them. He was always transparent about his opinions and concerns, which allowed us to learn a lot.” 

As a program manager in the Bentley Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center, Pena-Herrera has developed project management skills — but says the corporate immersion course added even more perspective. “Working on the CLTX NBA 2K Tournament helped me learn that any and every project you will work on in the real world is everchanging. You need to constantly adapt and go back to the drawing board to accomplish the key objectives you want to achieve, but the only way you will attain a result that you are proud of is if you remain optimistic, driven and passionate about your initial vision.” 

Goel, who has served as secretary general for the Bentley Model UN team and vice president and build leader for the university’s Habitat for Humanity group, agrees on the importance of resiliency, along with collaboration. “Being able to work with people of different mindsets and backgrounds and bring them together to a unified mission was important. We also had to maintain passion and a sense of adaptability throughout the process given curveballs and on-the-spot changes that event-planning requires. The experience was indicative of a real corporate scenario.”

But Goel cites effective communication as the No. 1 skill that contributed to his success. “Everything was changing so fast — variables, deadlines, dates — that as soon as new information came in, we had to share it across student teams from both classes to figure out what needed to be done.”

It’s these kinds of takeaways that help advance a key objective of the Bentley-Celtics partnership, which includes providing Bentley students with learning opportunities through access to Celtics executives. The corporate immersion courses complement other programs created from the Bentley-Celtics partnership, like an on-campus panel discussion held last fall with Celtics President Rich Gotham. During a career day at TD Garden and the Celtics headquarters, Celtics executives and Bentley students spoke with high school students about professional sports careers and the college admission process and college life, respectively. 

“Our intention for the Collegiate NBA 2K Tournament was for it to be student-led, and they delivered on that,” Flynn says. “Students created the vision for the tournament and learned to be flexible when the vision needed to change — particularly around budget and operational constraints. It took a lot of work to edit and adapt, but it was a great learning opportunity as students experienced how CLTX Gaming works within the context of a global brand like the Boston Celtics.”

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