FRISCO, Texas, July 13, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University student Melissa Stephens of Jackson, Missouri, loves interacting with fans during sporting events and giving back to the community through sports, so she knew she was batting a thousand when she was selected to intern with the minor league baseball team, the Frisco RoughRiders.
Stephens found herself in a league of her own this summer, chosen from hundreds of applicants to intern in the sales and promotions department of this AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
“The Frisco RoughRiders are ranked among the best minor league teams in the country in terms of revenue drawn each year, and they are well-connected to professional sports teams across the country, so the skills and networks I am building here are incredible,” Stephens said.
She spends much of her time calling customers to buy ticket packages and inventing ways to boost ticket revenue. She also works behind the scenes to run game-day promotions and provide fans with an unforgettable ballpark experience. By interning with the RoughRiders, based in Frisco, Texas, she has learned to sell products to customers from some of the top executives in minor-league baseball, Stephens said.
“Sales is the most important aspect of sports since ticket revenue is what drives a team’s overall revenue, so working as a sales and promotions intern has helped me develop the most important skill needed to work in sports,” Stephens said.
She said securing internships with professional sports teams is challenging, but she is enjoying the opportunity to enrich her experience in the field.
“Because of my young age I was rejected by other minor league teams, so I was really excited when I got the call from the RoughRiders,” Stephens said. “My dream is to some day break into the world of professional sports, which can be extremely difficult, so when an opportunity to work for the Frisco RoughRiders came along, I knew I could not turn it down.”
Stephens has met celebrities, such as Texas Rangers star Joey Gallo, but one of her most memorable experiences was accompanying the team mascot to a hospital.
“My favorite memory was going with our team mascot to greet children at one of the hospitals in Dallas. Getting to talk to the kids and seeing them light up when they got an autograph and picture with our mascot was really special,” Stephens said.
Stephens also continues enhancing her event planning and fundraising skills.
“Our team hosted Dirk Nowitzki’s celebrity baseball game at our stadium. The game was completely sold out, and it was really cool to see some local celebrities gathering to raise money for the Heroes Foundation,” Stephens said.
Attending Southeast has offered her many opportunities to expand her sales skills and broaden her horizons. She participates in the Jane Stephens Honors Program and is an active member of Future Business Leaders of America–Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL). She recently competed in the PBL State Leadership Conference, and was elected to serve as the community service committee chairperson for the upcoming year.
“These organizations have molded me into a stronger leader and taught me the definition of hard work, which are qualities that have definitely carried over into this internship,” Stephens said.
Stephens is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in sport management from Southeast. For the last two years, she has interned with the marketing and promotions department for Southeast Athletics – her first experience working in sports.
During both her internships with Southeast Athletics and the Frisco RoughRiders, she says she has learned to do anything from calling customers, to editing game scripts, to running the scoreboard, to executing on-field promotions during games, the foundation of which she built at Southeast.
“The internship [with Southeast Athletics]has allowed me to experience many different aspects of working in sports, which has helped me a lot since I spend a lot of my time on the phone selling tickets and running promotions with the RoughRiders,” Stephens said.
After graduation, she said she hopes to work for a professional sports team as a community relations director, so she can plan special events to give back to fans and charities.
“I love getting to interact with fans at games and find ways that I can give back to them through sports,” she says. “One of the first things I learned from working in sports is that there is a major difference between being a fan of watching sports and actually working in sports. It is definitely not a 9-5 job, and it takes a lot of commitment and hard work, but when you get to come to work every day and be around the athletes and the fans, it makes it all worth it.”