My years growing up in high school, I always expected to become an engineer. My dad owned a machine shop, in which I had worked since middle school, and I excelled in STEM classes. It seemed like the obvious choice; I felt I could have a very successful career in mechanical engineering. Then in May of my senior year, I played my last baseball game. After a few weeks of thinking, I realized I couldn’t give up the sport. Since I was a kid, I always wanted to work in baseball. But that’s exactly what it was: a dream. I come from an extremely small town called Huntland, TN. No one from my hometown had ever made a name for themselves in sports other than former Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors. However, with the support of my parents, I soon decided to chase my dreams of working in Major League Baseball.
After orientation, I changed my major from mechanical engineering to sports management. I took the intro level sport management class my first semester, and it served as the stepping stone for working with the baseball team. I told my professor, Dr. Rob Hardin, that I wanted to work in baseball operations. He gave me the contact info for Chad Zurcher, the director of operations for the Vol Baseball team. Soon after I contacted Chad, he offered me a position as an equipment manager, and I started the next spring.
My first month working with the team, my roles along with the other managers was setting up the field for practice, helping with drills during practice, restocking the nutrition station, doing laundry, and anything else the coaches asked. Once the season started, I transitioned into a role in our video room, working under Sean McCann, Tennessee’s video coordinator/scouting director. My duties mainly consisted of tagging games of our future opponents in our scouting database system BATS and noting any personal evaluations for scouting reports. I loved my new role in the video room; I felt it would be great experience for my future career.
After my first year and talking with many people in the baseball industry, I changed my major to business analytics. Baseball is one of, if not, the most analytically inclined sports in the world. 10 years ago, MLB teams would have 1, possibly 2 people doing analytics for their teams. Now there are entire analytics departments for nearly every team. I decided that specializing in this field would benefit me most when looking for a job upon graduation.
This year, my roles have expanded with the video room. We no longer need to tag other teams’ games in BATS, as we now have Synergy, which is a service that tags games from nearly every team in Power 5 conferences. We use Synergy to scout opposing teams, using their data and video to implement in our scouting reports. A typical week for me would begin by filling in stats and other data for our midweek game scouting report while making evaluations from watching video. If Coach McCann finds anything in my evaluations useful, he’ll put it in the report. During our midweek game I keep charts for catchers’ performance and quality at-bats (QABs). After the game, I’ll log our QABs in an excel sheet and give players their QAB results from the game and give Coach Vitello the up-to-date season totals. After our midweek game, we start the process all over again for the weekend series.
I believe being required to intern as part of the HLP is a great requirement, as it makes you do real work while gaining valuable experience in the industry you seek. In my experience, not only have I learned baseball-related knowledge, I have been exposed to so many different leadership styles and how they work best from each of the coaches. In my opinion, our coaching staff is one of the best in the country. They all complement one another with their coaching/leadership styles, from head coach Tony Vitello, all the assistant coaches, down to Coach McCann; the experience has been amazing.
This summer, I am participating in a scouting internship in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Wareham Gatemen. I will learn first-hand how to professionally scout amateur players the way they do in the MLB. I first learned about this internship from another Tennessee Baseball manager Theo Hooper, who did the Cape Cod internship in 2016. He will be graduating this spring and has received a job from the Tampa Bay Rays, using his skills and experience from Tennessee baseball and the Cape Cod internship to help him get his foot in the door. I’ve learned so much from him as well and owe him the world for helping me further my knowledge in this industry. I plan to do the same thing as Theo. I am hoping to graduate in the fall of 2020. Upon graduation, I hope to obtain a job with a Major League Baseball organization. By then, having been with Tennessee’s baseball team for three years, I will gave gained so much experience and will be forever grateful for the knowledge they have given me in helping a small-town kid get started in his lifelong dream.