My name is Jake Horan. I am currently finishing up a major in Physical Education with a minor in Sports Management. This summer, I have been hired by the Waterloo Bucks as a Stadium Operations Intern. The Bucks are a summer collegiate baseball team that compete in the Northwoods League, which consists of over 20 teams in North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Canada. This season has looked anything but normal for us, and the rest of the league. Two weeks before the season was set to begin, the league indefinitely postponed play for all teams, casting doubt as to whether I would even have an internship for the summer. Eventually, the league reorganized into smaller “pods” where each team would play less games than normal in a more regional grouping, cutting down on travel and exposing everyone to a smaller number of people. Each team needed to create their own COVID-19 plan to reduce stadium capacity and increase safety at the ballpark for fans and employees. We were put into a pod with four teams from Minnesota, playing a total of 40 games (down from the normal 72). Our stadium was also reduced to about 1/3 capacity, allowing us to have just under 1,000 fans in attendance at games. As employees, we are also required to wear masks at all times while at the stadium, and the clubhouses are restricted only to certain personnel (of which I am one). There also several other policies in place this season to increase safety. Another thing that makes this season more interesting than most is that not only did several teams in the league end up not playing this season, but also many other leagues that are at the same level were canceled. This means that most of the top talent ended up in our league, which is normally the second best league at this level (behind the Cape Cod league that isn’t playing this season). This has allowed us to not only see some of the top talent at our ballpark, but has also led to us have several MLB scouts at games (we had as many as 5 at one game).
Since I began my internship back on June 18th, I have had many responsibilities and duties that I have had to perform. Preseason, we had to prepare the stadium for fans to be present, including reorganizing certain areas of the ballpark, setting up our social distancing protocols, hanging sponsorship signs, and much more. During this time, we also had a few local high school games at the ballpark as we were able to better accommodate social distancing. During these games I worked the ticket booth, concession stand, and even as the PA announcer (that one was nerve-wracking). Since the season began, I have shifted to a game day only role, meaning I only work when we have a Bucks game or other event at the stadium. Each game day, I work anywhere from 12-15 hours preforming many different duties. We spend most of the morning and afternoon preparing the stadium through cleaning the stadium, restocking concessions, doing team laundry, and any other duties that need to be done to make everything presentable. Once gates open I have been responsible for working the will call table, guest services table, souvenir stand, and concessions stands.
This internship has allowed me to see many different aspects of a sports organization that will help me in being very versatile in a future job. The reason I took this role was to give myself experience in another sports organization (I already have a lot of experience in sports through the UW-Platteville athletic department), as well as to give myself more connections in the sports world. I hope that this internship will help open many doors for me in the sports world, as I always say that working in sports isn’t really work, its a hobby that I can get paid for.