Southeast Sports Management Students Work Behind the Swing with Gateway Grizzlies

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Southeast Missouri State University seniors Jacey Clemens, Raymond Killian and Terry Pletka are learning what it takes to work behind the swing with the Gateway Grizzlies.

This summer, Clemens, Killian and Pletka, all sports management majors, are interning with the organization and learning it takes long hours, overcoming challenges and meeting expectations to provide an undeniable experience in the sports industry.

“My career goal has always been to work in the baseball industry,” said Clemens, of Warrenton, Missouri.

The Gateway Grizzlies, located in Sauget, Illinois, are members of the Frontier League, a professional, independent organization featuring teams that have no affiliation with Major League Baseball. Interns are tasked with planning and creating their own events in a real-world setting, among other responsibilities.

As a marketing intern, Killian operates the video board and cameras for the video board, and creates graphics, ideas for theme nights, and sound bites for in-game use.

“I knew an internship like this would give me an invaluable experience,” said Killian. “I have learned a little bit of everything from this experience — how to run a box office and sell tickets to creating graphics and clips to running a camera and video editing.”

Clemens works as a promotions and in-game entertainment intern. She conducts fan games in between innings and is involved in fan engagement and promotional planning for themed nights. Clemens creates the game day script read by the announcer which discloses the sponsors, provides details for the in-game entertainment and a report on the performance.

“A typical day averages about 13 hours and involves prepping before games for sponsors and corporations that may need a concourse booth, as well as making sure I’m prepared for fans and all the engagement promotions we’ve created for them ready,” Clemens said.

Pletka, of Yorkville, Illinois, works as a stadium operations intern with responsibility for preparing the stadium’s suites for various events such as pre-game picnics and buffet lines. He is learning the everyday routine of running a successful ballpark.

“I wanted to work this internship because I love baseball,” Pletka said. “I am learning how much work goes into basic routines every night.”

One of Pletka’s favorite moments has been the Fourth of July game where veteran player, Blake Brown, hit a walk-off homerun securing a win for the team.

There are many hours and a lot of hard work that goes into every game, but it’s worth seeing his work featured on the big screen, said Killian, of Barnhart, Missouri.

“This experience has shown me how awesome it is to work in this field from the people I get to work with to getting to help create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for the fans,” he said.

Engaging with the fans and making each game a memorable experience is a rewarding moment for each of the interns.

Her favorite moment this summer has been when she secured a $1,500 partnership with a local pest control company that sponsored a Ghostbusters themed night supplying the players with jerseys, Clemens said. She created the design for the jerseys that were then auctioned off to fans.

“I have loved the ability to be constantly engaged with fans. I always aspire to be involved with fans and love the interactions I’ve had thus far,” Clemens said.

The experience has proven to be a great source of education and hands-on experience for Clemens, Killian and Pletka, confirming they are in the right career field. The students hope to build networking relationships and gain knowledge from the experience that can be used in their future careers.

“I hope to gain enough experience and to improve my skills to where I will be able to receive a job that I want once I graduate,” Killian said.

Pletka added, “I hope to gain the knowledge and experience to advance me into my career and to allow me to be successful.”