This isn’t an ode to Bon Jovi, and furthermore — this ain’t a song for the broken hearted… I’ve had a few requests asking how I got to my position with the Reds and what I would recommend to those looking to get started.
Let me start with my story.
I grew up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a medium-sized city of about 50,000. Fond du Lac is located about 1-hour northwest of Milwaukee. I attended the University of Wisconsin – Fond du Lac for my first two years of college, earning my associate’s degree. After that, I transferred to UW – La Crosse where I earned a bachelor’s of science degree in sport management. While at UW – La Crosse, I worked for the campus Rec Sports program as a special event/promotions supervisor. This experience primed me better than any education I received. I knew I wanted to work in sports and baseball was my passion, so I looked for every opportunity to get involved.
The summer before my senior year, I obtained an internship with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners (they have since switched affiliations to the Milwaukee Brewers). The Timber Rattlers play in Appleton, Wisconsin, about 45-minutes north of my hometown. The summer-long internship allowed me to see all aspects of the business. As an intern, I rotated between departments every few weeks. By the time I was finished, I was certain of the career path I wanted to follow.
To complete my degree requirements, my program at UW – La Crosse called for a semester-long, full-time internship. I applied and interviewed all over the country with many different sports. I was offered positions with the Charlotte Bobcats, Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers. My decision was a fairly easy one to make. I accepted the full-time internship with the Milwaukee Brewers media relations department. While in Milwaukee, I met some great people that have become good friends of mine. My direct supervisor was John Steinmiller, media relations manager but I also worked under Mike Vassallo, director of media relations and Ken Spindler, coordinator of media relations.
After a year-plus with the media relations folks in Milwaukee, I was searching high and low for a way to stay involved in the Brewers organization. An opportunity became available in the ticket office as a sales representative of season and group tickets. I was asked to stay on and accepted. I worked in the ticket department through the 2008 Postseason, while helping in media relations whenever I could. I enjoyed meeting new people, interacting with fans and gaining new experiences in another side of baseball/sports.
Once my stint with the Brewers ended, I knew that I wanted to get back into media relations. I asked Mike Vassallo, my boss from Milwaukee, if he knew of anything open around the league. Mike worked in Cincinnati for the Reds for 6 years under Rob Butcher, “the best in the business.” (I’m not just saying that because I work here; he really is the most respected media relations guy in baseball.) He checked with Rob and he thought he might have something available. I already had plans to attend the annual Baseball Winter Meetings (in Las Vegas last December, in Indianapolis this December) and arranged to meet up with Rob while there. We met up at the Bellagio and agreed to keep in touch.
After being back from the Winter Meetings for about a week, I was offered the position with the Reds. And here I am, Intern, Media Relations with the Cincinnati Reds. My hope to is parlay this internship into full-time work somewhere in baseball media relations. It’s been a long journey. Hopefully I can add the next step this winter.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I offer up my suggestions and tips to those looking to get started in sports.