Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Training 2015; Grapefruit Edition

Last year, I visited the Cactus League in Arizona twice and they were both amazing trips. I met so many people and learned so much in the two weekends I was there. During those two weekends, I saw seven games in a span of five days and you could say I was in my own kind of heaven.

After talking to a few people about that weekend, they were somewhat surprised I wasn't sick of baseball yet. As I've posted in previous blogs, I then worked for an independent minor league team where I worked (mostly) everyday for three months. Still wasn't sick of baseball. As stated prior to this, I knew I wanted to work in baseball this year which is why I applied for so many jobs and was willing to move across the country to do so. Going into this job in Florida, I was so excited for spring training. All I could think about were my trips to Arizona last year and how much fun it would be. 

Now don't get me wrong, working a baseball game everyday in the month of March watching all of the big leaguers is more than an experience. But as a fan, the Cactus League is more 'fan friendly'. Mainly because all of the stadiums are so close together. In Florida, there's a few on the east coast, but most are 3 hours west on the other side of the state. So in my opinion, the Grapefruit league isn't considered a destination spot in comparison to Arizona.

But as far as Spring Training goes, I haven't done anything like this. Sure, everyone has had long work days, but I have worked everyday since February 16th and I don't get a day off until April 3rd. I'm exhausted just thinking about that first week or so of nonstop work. Now that I'm on week three of it, it's become more and more like a routine but there's still some unexpected curve balls in there (pun intended). During each game, I'm in charge of what goes on upstairs in the press box. I control the production of the game whether it's the stats, what is up on the video board, the PA announcer, etc.

But the crazy thing is, the game is the less stressful part. It's the preparation that can make your brain feel like mush - mainly because mine does now. The preparation to make all the graphics, have them in order and well as the videos is about two to three hours. On top of that, I'm writing weekly stories for a local newspaper, managing all the social media platforms, scheduling radio booths for the incoming broadcasts, and preparing for the Advanced-A season that starts April 9th. In other words, I really enjoy each day from 1:05pm to about 4:00, because I only have to focus on one thing.

The only downfall to working for two teams during spring training is the inability to see other spring training games. The closest one to Jupiter is in Port St. Lucie, which is about 45 minutes north of where I am, and the Mets have games at the same time as us. Every other park like I already said is two or more hours away. If I could, I would have toured all the parks by now, but I can't complain about working each game!

Since I'll be working for 53 days straight, it's been somewhat difficult trying to balance schoolwork, work, a social life, and maintaing a healthy lifestyle. I wake up extremely early to workout, then go to work, do (or try) schoolwork assignments and maybe hang out with friends. For school, I'm taking two online classes, an independent study with Dr. Cellini and an online class through another graduate program at USF. In the online class, I'm grouped with three other students, two in California and one in Chicago. The schoolwork isn't necessarily difficult, but it's more on the lines of communication since we're spread out through three different time zones. For a good three weeks, I was staying up until about 2am ET just to finish assignments or talk to my classmates on the west coast. I'm coming up on my last week of this class, so now it's about finishing my independent study with Dr. Cellini.

Until next time, here's a few pictures of spring training thus far!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Global Immersion Elective

Every two years or so, the Sport Management Program offers a unique elective that requires world travel. 2015 Destination? South Africa. Students within the program were given the ability to travel to South Africa for 10 days in replace of a 6 week elective class. Flights and expenses were not included within tuition, this was extra.

I was originally scheduled to go, but the move to Florida hindered that. Fortunately for me, I lived vicariously through my classmates as the updated their social media platforms daily! After the trip, I asked a few that went on the trip a few questions.

1. What was the most interesting part of the trip?

Amanda - The most interesting part would be learning about the people, the culture and the traditions of South Africa. Getting to experience it through everything from volunteering with orphans to watching our first cricket match in the SA Cricket Associations luxury box. Living what we learn is so beneficial!

Nate - The most interesting part of the trip was not sports related. It was seeing how South Africa is moving forward as a very new country that includes all races "equally". The prevailing income disparity and the juxtaposition of rich (mainly white) neighborhoods within a few miles of extremely (mainly black) poor townships was incredibly eye-opening to witness first hand.

Alyssa - The most interesting part of the trip was spending time with some of the orphans from an orphanage in Soweto. We took them to a local park and played soccer, cricket, and had a picnic. It was fascinating to be able to get to know some of these kids. They are all full of life and so appreciative of the little things in life. I think it was a special experience for us all.

Maddie - The trip was very interesting from day one till we left. But seeing how different South Africa is compared to other countries with cultures, race, economy was very interesting. Seeing how the apartheid has formed the country was extremely interesting.

2. What differs in sport in South Africa compared to USA?

Amanda - Sports differ quite a bit in South Africa. There are only really three main sports and they are separated sometimes by race and or economic differences. Also, the business side of things differs because some areas have less advancement or infrastructure/regulations than the United States so people are challenged to be more creative. 

Nate - The main difference in sport in my opinion is the older technology in South Africa, and the problems they continue to have with filling stadium attendance. Attendance is not as much of a problem in the US, and our technology is on the forefront of the world.

Alyssa - Sport in South Africa is much more behind in development than in the USA. For example, Loftus Field will soon be adding WiFi into their stadium--making them the only sporting venue in the country to have WiFi. At the Witswatersrand (WITS) College, the athletic department personnel we spoke with were taking notes from us and our experiences on how to develop the sport teams and interest around their athletic programs. At SuperSport, there was a man in the production area of the company running about 3 different things at once during their show. Compared to ESPN here in the States, their employee count is far much lower at SuperSport. Social media is also now just making a stride into the sport world in South Africa.

Maddie - They are so many years behind in sport,the infrastructure is not getting utilize enough after the World Cup. And there is many people (especially children) that are never going to get the same opportunities as us in the states. 

3. How do you hope to use your international knowledge with future sport endeavors

Amanda - I won't assume things. I guess I thought that business was the same all around the world, but i learned there are big differences so moving forward I might not just assume things are a certain way - I will take the time to challenge the norm and do something different. 

NateWhat this trip helped to teach me is how sport and education can be related on a much needed level. Working with non profits in South Africa that intertwined soccer and HIV Aids education, for example, or soccer with messages of a strong community and the need to stay in school, it was really inspiring. Although those types of job will probably pay significantly less than an average job in the sport industry, it would be so fulfilling to help make a difference like that.

Alyssa - This experience definitely opened my eyes to a much more broader spectrum of the sport world. I hope to be able to spend more time traveling outside of the US and working on development projects for certain industries within sport in these other countries. We learned a lot about the mega-event impacts to a country, specifically South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010--so I hope to be able to expand on that knowledge in the future if I ever get a chance to work for a mega-event such as FIFA or the Olympics.

Maddie - Getting to understand how the sport there will be very beneficial, South Africa is a big country with huge potential. And with them being part of the British take over for several decades ago, they have many of the same sports as Europe, so for me that is a plus.

Here's a link to all the pictures the group took during their trip!

Monday, January 19, 2015

3,074 Mile Journey

First and foremost, Happy New Year and Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday before the back to school and/or work rush. My new year was spent in the car, which could explain the title of this blog post.

If familiar with my postings, you could probably pick up that I can be a bit of a workaholic with a passion and love for baseball. Between my spring training trips, summer trip with my dad and working with a minor league team last season, the love for baseball has yet to die. 

After a year and a few months into this program, each turn on my career path has directed me to the position I recently accepted. Knowing baseball started in late March, or the beginning if you want to include Spring Training, I had my sights set on landing a position this upcoming season. With that, I began to network with any and every person I already knew in the industry as well as reaching out even further. I sent out random e-mails and cold called those in positions I hoped to eventually have. 

Towards the end of September, I began to apply to any media related position with baseball I saw. Whether it was at the lowest level of the minor leagues or at the top in the majors, I applied. I applied for positions I was overqualified for and under qualified, just to put myself out there. Most job postings I saw were through (professional baseball employment opportunities) or team websites. 

Within the first few weeks of October, I started to hear back from teams and interviewed for certain positions, but a lot of their job descriptions ended up seeming right for me. Nothing was standing out until the end of October. Around then, I interviewed and was offered a position with Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. Roger Dean is a 13 field complex within the Grapefruit League of Spring Training, playing host to the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. It's the only stadium to host two teams during spring training. Once the MLB teams go back to their hometowns at the end of March, the Advanced-A teams of the Cardinals (Palm Beach Cardinals) and Marlins (Jupiter Hammerheads) call Roger Dean home in the Florida State League. The teams alternate throughout the year, making it the busiest minor league park in the country. Knowing all this information, I was a bit enticed.

After a weekend of thinking about the job offer, I decided to accept. On January 5th, I stepped into the role as the media representative for the Palm Beach Cardinals. This means I am in charge of all social media accounts, the MiLB website, managing the press box during games, writing game recaps and much more.

Prior to moving across the country, I was able to sort out the rest of my classes out to where I can finish the program online and still graduate in May. With where I am in the program, I need 6 credit hours of electives to complete my degree. As mentioned in previous posts, if an opportunity outside of the Bay Area is within reach, the Sport Management department will do everything in it's power to help you balance your schoolwork. Being told the information on orientation night back on July 9, 2013, I've always had in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to today, I've been working at Roger Dean for two full weeks. It's been such a blast and everything I could have wanted. Having the support of the USF program that allows me to finish my degree while I venture off on my own means the world to me. I honestly think I wouldn't be able to do this anywhere else.

So from here on out, I'll be blogging from the east coast! Be sure to follow the updates that I'll be doing about the Palm Beach Cardinals on Facebook and Twitter (@GoPBCardinals). 

Until next time, check out these pictures and article about Roger Dean!
Outside of the stadium
View from my desk

Monday, December 22, 2014

12 Days of... Grad School

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday season. Before you indulge in traveling, family time and presents, here's 12 days (actually reasons - that was my lame attempt at a holiday themed post) why I chose USF. Just remember, I'm from a suburb of Dallas and went to small town Fayetteville, Arkansas for college. So if I can educe the change, so can you.. And yes I brought back the GIFS.

#1 - You're in one of the most influential cities in America, if not the world.

USF is located in a city with a population over 825,000 along with numerous athletic teams, outdoor recreation businesses and fitness facilities. While taking classes, students have access to multiple internships or practicums with the variety of business opportunities that will enhance the learning experience while preparing for a career. 

#2 - Gain over 1,000 hours of hands-on experience.

Your internships with leading professional sport teams, universities, or agencies can start as soon as day one. Don't wait around, jump right in!

#3 - Grad school is job preparation.

Always be looking for ways to enhance your skills because this is the time to learn. As a follow up from the previous reason, do your research. Find out what’s hot in your field, what’s necessary, what’s in demand. Be proactive during your time in grad school.

#4 - Learn from leaders in the field.

The teaching faculty and influential guest speakers have all experienced multiple scenarios  to share with students new to the industry. They're insight and lessons can be valuable and help your path in this industry.

#5 - Join an active alumni network.

The USF network is huge. You have access to over 1,500 alumni who are leaders in the sport industry, use them! Even if they aren't in your specific field you want, making those connections could lead you to the dream job you've always wanted.

#6 - Attend evening class once a week.

Going to class once a week has it's perks. Rather than hitting a brick wall like you probably did once you graduated with your bachelors, this program allows you to get that job before you even graduate. Earn your Master's degree in 23 months!

#7 - This might be more like a graduate school reason but, the research.

As a grad student, you work on problems/issues that have no known solution, or are up for discussion and debate. It brings our your creative and intellectual side. Boundaries are pushed which can cause second guesses. You can head down a path combining two completely different ares of research, and see what you discover. The goal isn’t to do what you know, but to push yourself beyond that, and find your limits. 

#8 - The in-between stage.

I’m not sure how many grad students like this, but I really do. Being a grad student is a bit like being in limbo. You’ve got a lot more responsibility and respect than an undergrad, but you don’t have all the administrative work and extra stress of being a professor. In the work place, most employers know you're a student and remember what it's like, allowing you time to balance your schoolwork (that is if you have a USF alumni in your workplace). Being a grad student is a chance to make mistakes and know that someone is around who is there to help you catch them and fix it. Take advantage of any learning opportunity that is thrown your way!

#9 - Don’t be afraid to take on volunteer work and part-time gigs.

It's usually the smaller based jobs that give you a large learning curve. Try new things and let your résumé and character build. That will give you skills that will be useful both in and out of school and your jobs. Plus, the more experience you have, the more examples and talking points you'll have during interviews!

#10 - Meet others who share the same passion.

The cohort experience fosters life-long personal and professional relationships with a diverse group of students. When new cohorts start, mingle with them too! You never know who you'll become friends with or even be working with in the future.

#11 - Is grad school and working in sports supposed to be this much fun?

If you're as passionate about working in sports as I am, each day is a new adventure. After dipping my toes in multiple organizations, I never imagined I would be doing the amount that I'm actually doing. While I watch and be a part of history, I'm obtaining my Master's. How cool is that?

#12 - It's seriously the best program. 

Sure, I'm biased but come on. You're living in one of the biggest cities in the world and have so much more than you could ever imagined right in front of your nose. You can't beat it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Series Champs!!

The last month has been crazy for the city of San Francisco to say the least. It's such a special thing to have your favorite team win a championship, but living within the city makes it that much cooler. But do you know what could make that experience greater far beyond just living here? Working for the winning team. My cohort was lucky enough to live vicariously through 4 members, each working in a different department. 
Top left to right: Joe Alioto, Spencer Serafin, Stephen Ellis
Bottom left to right: Alyssa Nakken, Stephen Ellis
After the win, I spoke to all of them about their experiences and this is what they had to say:

1. What is your position and what are your duties?

Spencer - My position is Ballpark Operations Intern. The main groups i work with are the operations team, security, guest services, maintenance, and the grounds crew.

Stephen - My position is the Media Relations Intern. I help take care of the Media's needs, help with stats, help with game notes, help run the Giants' Twitter accounts during the games, distribute notes and stats to the players, broadcasters, and coaches, create and distribute daily and weekly minor league reports, write field passes, etc. 

Alyssa - My current position is the Baseball Operations Intern. My day to day duties include editing amateur video sent in to us by our scouts all over the nation. I input many scouting reports into player profiles located in our scouting system software along with communicating any trades or transactions that take place across the MLB to our entire department. 

Joe I am an Intern in the Client Relations department. The duties of this position consist of supporting the Client Relations Vice President, Director, and Account Managers, while also helping the Suite Department.  Generally, this involves assistance with special events, projects, and daily tasks.  My primary responsibility is to answer customer questions, issues, and requests on our Season Ticket Member hotline. 

2. What was the application/interview process like?

Spencer - The application process started in November when the position was posted on the Giants website and I received notification from one of the many USF job posting emails. I submitted my application and resume online at the end of November and heard back from the Giants in early January. Since I was living in Southern California at the time my first interview was over the phone. I then received an offer for a second interview which i accepted and made the trip up to San Francisco. About a week after the second interview I received a call with an offer of an internship and without hesitation accepted.

Stephen - For the application, I had to submit a cover letter and resume. There were two rounds of interviews: in the first round, I met with the whole department and they all took turns asking me questions. In the second round, I met with the person who became my supervisor and the head of HR. They both just asked me a few additional questions. The whole process was relatively easy and the department was very welcoming. 

Alyssa - I noticed the internship opening during Thanksgiving break last year. I applied in early December. The application process was pretty simple--they asked for a resume, cover letter, and references. I had my first telephone interview with our Director of Player Personnel right before Christmas. In early February I went in for an in-person interview. I sat in front of about 10 people (the majority of the front office operations department including our VP, Director of Quantitative Analysis, and Assistant General Manager). My final interview was that same day and was one-on-one with Brian Sabean, the General Manager. The Giants look for a good "fit" for their organization. It wasn't so much about the things that I had accomplished, it was more about the passion I showed for the game of baseball and passion for working hard to add value to the organization.

Joe - The interview process was a very cool learning experience for me.  First, I had a phone interview with three employees that went really well.  Unfortunately, a few days before I was brought in for an in-person interview, I fractured my tibia and was in pretty bad shape.  I needed a lot of help being brought to my interviews, and preparing my thoughts was very difficult.  Luckily, the Giants did not hold my injury against me, and in fact, I think they respected the fact that I still made it to my interview despite my situation.  Everyone who interviewed me was very friendly, and they definitely liked that I was a student in the USF Master’s Program. After one phone interview and two in-person interviews, I was offered the position and happily accepted!

3. Besides being a part of a winning team, what was the coolest experience of being a Giants employee?

Spencer - The Giants really do a lot for their employees. There are numerous activities a month for employees to engage in such as movie screenings, trips to a minor league game, or even brewery tours. Also, they are a very open organization and even interns opinions are heard. But best of all has been the experience of working at a baseball stadium every day and experiencing almost every home game of the season.  

Stephen - Growing up in the Bay Area, I was always a Giants fan. As great as it was having my favorite team win in 2010 and 2012, I never felt as if I had actually contributed to the team and was never truly part of the experience. I think one of the best things about being a Giants employee was that this time I could say "we" won and not "they" won. 

Alyssa - The coolest part about being a Giants employee is knowing each and every day that I get to represent one of the world's top organizations. We are more than just the best baseball team--we continuously strive to make positive differences in the community and the world. This organization and the people that make it up are like family. That may be the coolest thing about being an employee. All of the perks are cool, too, of course--free games, health & fitness events during lunchtime, World Series trips, etc.

Joe - One was definitely working in one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world. Whether it was walking around the ballpark during a day game, watching batting practice, or helping out with pregame events on the field, I really enjoyed being a part of such a great experience at such a great venue. Obviously, being able to watch my favorite baseball team play during work hours was amazing too! I could go on forever about all the cool stuff I was a part of.

4. With there being 81 home games, how were you able to balance school work?

Spencer - The nice part about our program is that it is built around students working and having internships. With class only one night per week I was able to rarely have to miss a day of work or a game. The biggest part for me was being focused because I know this internship is a great step towards the career I want and I needed to do the best I possibly could. I found time to do my homework either after work when the team was away or in the mornings before a night game. It did get tricky on longer home stands to leave time to do school work but in the end I was able to handle it without missing out on too much sleep. 

Stephen - Luckily, my department had two people in it who had graduated from our program. So, when it came to games on Wednesday nights, they were very understanding about me going to class. Although there was a lot of work to balance, I was able to catch up when the team was on the road. 

Alyssa - I was fortunate enough to not have too many game-day responsibilities which allowed for me to have a more consistent schedule, making it easier to balance the school workload. It also helps that all of my supervisors went through the Sport Management program. They have all been able to help me with papers/projects, and understand that sometimes I need to take time during the workday to complete an assignment or catch up on reading. It's not easy, but it pays off.

Joe - The Giants were great at making sure I always had adequate time to get my school work done.  If I needed to leave early to practice a presentation or get some extra work done, they would ALWAYS accommodate. That being said, I think I did a good job of managing my time so that school and work rarely conflicted. Since I usually worked Monday-Friday, I did most of my work on Sunday. 

5. If you could do it all over again, would you do it and why?

Spencer - Without question I would do it all over again. Baseball has always been a passion of mine and to have the opportunity to work for a major league club was a dream come true. While it was difficult moving, I knew that if i wanted to work for a team the options were limited and moving  a major possibility. I believe that you need to do whatever is necessary to achieve your dreams and not to settle. Plus it didn't hurt to be a part of a World Series Champion Organization.  

Stephen - No question. I would definitely do it all over again. In just one season, I met a lot of people and have a good sense about how PR departments operate in Major League Baseball. This internship was great because I was treated as a coworker (not just an intern) and was given the opportunity to get hands-on experience.  

Alyssa -  If I could do this all over again, I would. This has hands down been the best year of my life thus far. I've learned so much not only about the baseball world, but about myself. I've been challenged in so many ways. Being the only female in the department definitely made me tough. Some days have been harder than others, but looking back I'm so happy to have gone through those hard times--it pays off and I've definitely earned the respect from some of the top people in the MLB. This has been a fascinating experience, and has opened a lot of doors for me. I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Joe - Without question I would do this internship again! At first I was skeptical that I was going into a department that was fairly unrelated to what I want to do with my career (basketball operations), but it ended up being valuable in so many ways. I learned so much about myself, and I now have a better understanding of my strengths and my weaknesses. I know I sound like a broken record, but there were really so many cool experiences that I will never forget. When a team you work for makes the postseason, especially in baseball, there are just endless fun activities and celebrations. It definitely helped that the team was very good on the field, but regardless, I still would've had a blast this season.

6. What lessons did you learn/will you take away from your experience when moving forward in your career?

Spencer - Some of the biggest things I have learned interning for the Giants is to stay humble and work hard. While working for a sports franchise is very fun it also requires a lot of work. To get the best product to the field requires many departments coming together to create something bigger. Working as a team really makes a difference and makes everyone's jobs that much easier. If you do your part and make sure to help everyone around you then you really can be a part of something amazing, which is what happened this year with the Giants. 

Stephen - I think one of the biggest things was overcoming the anxiety of talking with people that you don't know. It was extremely helpful getting to know the PR personnel from visiting teams. Also, during the playoffs, a lot of people come to your stadium who work for MLB. Creating positive relationships with these types of people can only spell good things for your career. 

Alyssa - The biggest lesson I've learned is to hold on to the vision, and trust the process. I've always been someone that sees the future and focuses solely on that, but forgets to enjoy and learn from the present. We have to trust the entire process and the vision will one day become a reality. I couldn't agree more, and I've applied this to my own life in and out of the office and will continue to embrace this lesson throughout my career.

Joe - One lesson I took away from my experience was to ALWAYS ask questions. It is so much better to get clarification on something than to try and figure it out yourself. Often times I tried to do things by myself and got tangled in my own confusion. Rather than putting myself in a tough position, I know now that I should always ask for help if I am unsure on anything. 

7. Lastly, will you get some bling!?

Spencer - I sure hope so! I haven't heard anything yet but i know the process of designing the rings and getting the orders takes a while. If not the experience alone was more than enough of a reward. 

StephenI think so! Stay tuned. I know that I'll at least get the opportunity to buy a ring, which is a pretty tough opportunity to pass up.

Alyssa - Yes, I will be fortunate enough to get a World Series ring! The hardest part is figuring out which finger to put it on.

JoeI am not 100% sure, but I believe so!

A big thank you to Spencer, Stephen, Alyssa and Joe for being a part of the blog to share their experience as a Giants employee during the 2014 World Championship season. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Hope You Dance

During the rarity of spare time I have in my life, I found myself sitting on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This beach is located in the Outer Sunset District of the city, as far west as you can go as I like to say. For the first year I lived in San Francisco, I lived just three blocks from Ocean Beach and visited it regularly. Whether it was running five miles or just sitting listening to the waves crash, I found a sense of relief. I haven't been back in a few months, which makes me realize that it had been a little too long.

If you were to talk to my close friends, they'd tell you I'm terrified of the ocean. And for that matter, I'm not a big fan of the sand. I just hate the way it sticks to you and it never seems to escape your body. But, for the year I lived by the beach, it made me realize and see changes in myself I never thought possible. I guess you could say the beach is a giant metaphor of my experience in California.

Each time I visit the beach no matter if I run or sit, I always listen to Lee Ann Womack's 'I Hope You Dance'. If you're in need of an inspirational song in your life, that's the one I recommend. The song is about taking chances, something I've learned in my last year and a half. For example, visiting a place like the beach on a weekly basis even though it scares me. 

Moving out was scary, I won't deny it. So if you're from out of state or even down in SoCal and looking into this program up in the Bay Area, it'll be scary. But, the good news is, you're not the only one. As cliché as it sounds, the lyrics definitely describe everything I've been in taught from USF.

And in case you don't listen to the song, here's a few verses:

- - I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance / Never settle for the path of least resistance / Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin'

I hope you dance / Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along / Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean / Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens - -

First of all, there are a lot of mountains in the distance. I'm from Texas, the best mountain we have is made out of concrete and windows in the heart of downtown Dallas and it's not as scenic as the ones out here. 

The path of least resistance. Now that is a huge lesson you'll learn at USF. The first class you'll take with Dr. Cellini will remind you over and over again to get out of your comfort zone and to be different. There's a reason people you work with stay at the same position for years, they don't get out of their flow. Be different.

Taking chances that are worth taking. If I had the opportunity to go back and do it all again, hands down I would. Maybe I'm biased in the sense that I have come to like moving and experiencing new things, but that's something this program has done for me. Overall, this chance is worth taking. I'm 22 years-old, have worked in over five sport organizations and made so many connections, if not friends, along the way. I know they say life after undergrad is different, but they didn't tell me how much fun I'd be having too!

Time is always rolling. I think that sums up my last 5 days and the next 5 days coming up. In the last five days I've ran a half marathon, went to a country concert, worked a Warriors game with the PR team, and worked my day job at Pac-12 Networks. In the next five days, I'll work both Pac-12 men's and women's basketball media days, go to Arkansas for homecoming weekend and be back to work at Pac-12 Networks on Monday. And if you're wondering if I sleep, the answer is yes. I'm sort of like the human energizer bunny so not that much sleep is required.

Doors opening. With this program, doors are constantly being opened. I can guarantee there's someone from USF at each sport entity in the Bay Area, you'll always have some sort of connection. With that being said, finding a foot in the door isn't as hard as you may think, but it definitely takes a little bit more to get a job or internship than just having USF next to your name. For example, with my new position with the Warriors, a classmate in cohort 41 who is interested in basketball and PR was looking for an opportunity to fill the downtime he had during his weeks. I was able to help him get in contact with the Warriors.

So, when I'm sitting at the beach and listening to this song I picture my whirlwind of a time I've had in San Francisco. My experience here can definitely resemble a wave, always moving quickly. I've learned that the amount of effort I put into jobs and connections will only help what I get out of this program. And if Lee Ann Womack ever asks, you can tell her I've been dancing during my time at USF.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Full Circle: Why I Work In Sports

So that saying, “everything happens for a reason”, is a phrase I totally believe in. No matter what the situation is, I always know it’s for a purpose. For my experiences this last month, I know there was a build up that was longer than a month, but it was the best feeling knowing it all came full circle.

For obvious reasons, sports have always been a part of my life. Being a competitive gymnast since I was seven and up until college, I’ve had my fair share of what it’s like to win. Whether it was individually or next to the teammates on the Arkansas Gymnastics team, each time had a different feeling to the win.

After retiring from gymnastics after my sophomore year, I sort of felt like my glory days were over. Since I had been competing in gymnastics for over half my life, I never expected to have a winning feeling again. Because of my competitive nature, I knew sport would be the industry I worked in, mainly to try and fill that void of competition I no longer had in my life.

Because of my early and unexpected retirement, it allowed me to build my resume before applying for grad school. Without those jobs, who knows if I would have been accepted into this program, and who knows where I’d be now. As much as I didn’t want to realize it, I knew my early retirement had a meaning.

After moving here and being a gymnastics coach in the Bay Area, I still had yet to experience winning again. Last season I worked with the Oakland Raiders and they as well did not have a winning season. Then, I worked with Stanford women’s gymnastics team and even though they qualified to nationals, I didn’t travel with the team to witness it. I still had that missing feeling.

When Vinny Espinosa from my class talked to me about his job with an independent minor league baseball team, I sort of thought the league he was explaining was a joke. It’s not affiliated with a major league team and the guys were already graduated from college, so in all honesty I thought it was sort of like an adult league.

I really didn’t expect to be as attached to this job just because it had such a short time period. But, being around the same people for 90 or more days, those feelings changed. When I first started with the San Rafael Pacifics, there was hype that they’d be the best team in the league. After a few games and seeing outings of the other teams, I started to believe that they could be the best by the end of the season.

After winning the first half of the season I started to look forward to the end knowing I would get to be a part of the championship. Even though I knew it meant the season would be over, I was really looking forward to it.  With about a week left of play, it was looking as if the Pacifics would win the second half even before the season was over.

Of course with baseball, or any sport for that matter, anything can happen. That’s the beauty of sport in my eyes. No matter the amount of talent on a team, the preparation, a ranking or record, it all comes down to that moment. Sure enough, it came down to the last game of the regular season before the Pacifics won it all.

The anxiety and nervousness I felt that whole weekend was unreal. As an athlete I rarely got nervous, if anything competing was fun. Getting to perform and show what I had been training for was always a blast. But now that I’m behind the scenes and can no longer participate, I was sort of a wreck. Maybe it was because I knew I could have that winning feeling again and I wanted it really bad.

After losing two games in a row that could have clinched the championship, the Pacifics finally won it all in the most dramatic baseball game I’ve ever witnessed. They won 11 – 8 and the teams battled back and forth the entire game. Each inning had its own drama that made it that much more exciting. As I sat in the dugout for the last inning, I just knew we were going to win. I videoed the last out, that transitioned into a dog pile, and then to the team popping champagne.

Everything had finally come full circle for me and I was finally a part of that winning feeling again.  It may have taken three years since that last feeling, but it was well worth the wait. It sounds silly, but that was the energy and moment I needed to keep me going. Everyone has those ‘stuck in a rut’ times and for me I felt like lately I had just been going through the motions.

The Pacifics reminded me that winning tastes so sweet. Being a part of this win made me realize why I fell in love with sports in the first place: working hard, seeing results and being considered a champion.

With only eight months left until I graduate, I feel as if I’ve started to realize why everything in my past has led me to where I am now. Through the ups and downs, sports were always the common denominator. More importantly, USF has opened so many doors in the business world, but even more importantly, it helped me grow as a person. Without my retirement, I probably wouldn’t be attending USF. Without USF, I wouldn’t have worked for the Pacifics. Without the Pacifics, who knows when I would have experienced another winning feeling.

Sometimes it takes a moment like this to reflect on why things happen the way they do. With eight months left until graduation, I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I know they’ll put me in the place I’m supposed to be.

2011 Regional Champions - University of Arkansas
2014 San Rafael Pacifics - Pacific Association Champions